Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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

etc?

share|improve this question

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.

1 Answer 1

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)

share|improve this answer
    
@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
1  
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
2  
@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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.