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Apostrophe "s" vs "Of"

I want to know what's the different between the ownership usage:

"He's her mother's son"

"He is the son of her mother"

What's the difference between using "'s " and "of"?

Also, because I don't know exactly how this should be called I call it ownership. But what's its proper name?

Another example is:

"Dragon's Year"

"Year of the Dragon"

What's the difference?

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marked as duplicate by JSBձոգչ, z7sg Ѫ, simchona, Thursagen, RegDwigнt Aug 24 '11 at 11:16

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Ok, thanks. so how about the "dragon" question? And what's the name of ownership usage in English? –  Amumu Aug 21 '11 at 11:27
    
@Amumu If you're modifying your question, could you please edit so we know what you're still having trouble with? –  simchona Aug 21 '11 at 12:00
    
What a bizarre example pair of sentences OP's first two are! Obviously "he" must be "her" brother, so that would normally be how one would define the relationship. The only context where either of these statements would be made is if they're half-siblings, and someone asked which parent they have in common. But it's still a weird way of putting it. –  FumbleFingers Aug 21 '11 at 13:01
1  
But consider He is his mother's son. This has its own meaning: that we emphasize that he is like his mother. –  GEdgar Aug 21 '11 at 13:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Also, because I don't know exactly how this should be called? I call it ownership. But what's its proper name?

Formally these are both genitive case (or possessive case), and indicate ownership.

"Dragon's Year" - this is sometimes called the Saxon genitive.

"Year of the Dragon" - this is a noun phrase with "of the Dragon" as a complement in the form of a prepositional phrase.

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I'll change it to "this uses a preposition", or do you have a better name for it? –  Hugo Aug 23 '11 at 20:35
    
according to Wikipedia "year of the Dragon" is a noun phrase with "of the Dragon" as a complement in the form of a prepositional phrase –  Theta30 Aug 23 '11 at 21:11
    
Now edited with your suggestion. –  Hugo Aug 25 '11 at 19:44

This subject seems a little bit complicated--one of the important reasons is that it has lots of exceptions.

The general rule is to use 's for people, like Jim's sister/Jim's book and of is for any objects, like the leg of the table, the food of my cat.

Today, it is different. We do not say the master of the school. It became the schoolmaster, while we still use king of Rome which never changed.

In formal English, at exams, you should still be careful about this rule. By the way, we can say or use this: a CD of Beyonce and a CD of Beyonce's. It seems the same but it is different: the first CD has Beyonce songs. The last CD belongs to Beyonce and it can be any CD in her archive. It should be better to learn it as a phrase.

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