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Is using the possessive 's correct in “the car’s antenna”?

Can we add apostrophe S, 's, to a word for an inanimate object as in the phrase

the problem's underlying assumptions

to denote possession? Would it be natural and grammatically correct?

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Yes, we can.

I don't think a native speaker would have any problem with your sentence.

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  • Fowler would have objected strongly. Indeed he did. This isn't the only thing I would in term object strongly too about Fowler, though. – Jon Hanna Jan 16 '13 at 10:26
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It can be a grammatically correct use of the possessive if the inanimate object actually possesses what follows.

I am not convinced that the underlying assumptions belong to the problem. They may have been used in constructing the problem or have been incorporated into the problem statement; but are they 'possessed' by the problem?

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    +1 the use of the genitive is fine grammar, but like you I am doubtful of the logic of the statement conveyed. – Jon Hanna Jan 16 '13 at 10:28
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Yes it is grammatically correct.

Though in spoken english, saying "The underlying assumptions of the problem" would be better, to avoid all ambiguity.

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