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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?

marked as duplicate by tchrist, FumbleFingers, James Waldby - jwpat7, Lynn, RegDwigнt Jan 16 '13 at 10:10

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Yes, we can.

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

  • 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

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?

  • 1
    +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

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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