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Is it correct to use possessive case for referring to the time in consideration, like in

  • in today's US

  • in modern's US

  • in last century's England


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closed as general reference by MετάEd, tchrist, Mitch, coleopterist, Cameron Oct 16 '12 at 5:21

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Possessives in English can generally only be used to modify nouns (strictly speaking, noun phrases). In your examples, two are nouns but one is not:

  • in today's US = in the US of today (OK)

  • in modern's US = *in the US of modern (not OK)

  • in last century's England = in the England of the last century (OK, but note we need to add the definite article)

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@Rory Alsop D'oh! Thanks! – Mark Beadles Oct 14 '12 at 0:07
@tchrist It's why I said "generally" - although to be strict, in English the possessive 's actually modifies noun phrases. e.g. My mother-in-law's house; the King of England's wig. – Mark Beadles Oct 14 '12 at 0:10
For modern, one could say: in the modern-day US... – J.R. Oct 14 '12 at 2:46
@J.R. It's interesting to me that the is inserted, whereas one might say "in modern-day Syria" without an article. Is this because we have the United States, or is some other rule in play? – Zairja Oct 14 '12 at 9:42
@Zairja: Great question; I would probably say "in modern-day America" without the article, too. At any rate, I don't think the article is required (I just found this in a Google book search: "Nonetheless, racial disparities persist at the highest level of educational attainment in modern-day US."), but I probably inserted it for the reason you surmised. – J.R. Oct 14 '12 at 9:56

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