What is the difference between Moon's Land and Land of Moon? Do both expressions have the same meaning or how do they differ?

When do we use each one of these, if they do have different meanings?

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    Did you have any particular reason for asking about Moon's land? (neither that, nor land of *Moon have any immediately-obvious meaning to me). There's certainly a difference between the land of Nod (a standard idiom meaning sleep) and Nod's land (also meaningless to me, probably because I don't know anyone called Nod). Is it even relevant that the question asks about land? Could the question just as well have asked about *the job of the President / the President's job? I think it's too vague as it stands. – FumbleFingers Sep 23 '13 at 22:52
  • A better suit for ELL? – Mistu4u Sep 24 '13 at 5:37
  • Neither expression is idiomatic. – Hot Licks Mar 16 '17 at 12:39

Normally, a phrase like "the dog's collar" has exactly the same meaning as "the collar of the dog." In this particular case, though, the expression "Land of X" has a special meaning--something like "the land which is characterized by X."

When we speak of "the land of Lincoln" or "the land of cotton" or "the land of 10,000 lakes," we mean that those are the things that people think of (or which we want them to think of) when they think about those places.

So when you say "Moon's land," I assume that you're referring to a piece of property owned by Mr. Moon, whom I presume to be an acquaintance of yours. But when you say "the land of Moon," I immediately think that Mr. Moon must be a public figure or a dictator or even a god who dominates the place.

People can use it unseriously, of course. A friend in Atlanta might tease you with "You can't order a Pepsi in the land of Coca-cola!" (Coca-cola is headquartered in Atlanta, but it doesn't really run the local government.)

  • They are both genitive and plural. – Affable Geek Sep 24 '13 at 3:20

Technically? The "Land of the Moon" is the correct way to phrase it because most often animate objects take the Saxon genitive form ('s). You're personifying the moon; it can not possess anything. So if this is in formal writing, use the form appropriate for inanimate objects like the moon. Otherwise, it's your choice. In fiction, that would be a style issue, not grammar.

At the same time, "Land of the Moon" (with Land capitalized) introduces a bit of ambiguity. Is it the land on the surface of the Moon you're describing? Or are you figuratively referring to a place in which the the sky is so clear, the moon shines brilliantly? It could be another way of saying the landscape is dominated by the moon.

The reason that I mentioned the capital "L" specifically is not only because you typed it that way, but because it appears as if it could be a title or a place name. If that's the case, go with Land of the Moon. Otherwise it should probably be land of the Moon or Moon's land, the former being more of a prescriptive rule.

Anyway, if this is not a formal piece of writing and you're meaning is clear through the context, then choose whichever format you prefer. If it's formal or if there aren't enough contextual clues to dictate the meaning of the phrase, then you probably want to stick with "land of the Moon" in case your reader objects to that usage.

I would offer you something more definitive, but you haven't given me any context to work with. My personal preference is irrelevant to your writing.

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    Your statement "You're personifying the moon; it can not possess anything" doesn't make any sense. Look at moon's orbit / orbit of the moon on Ngrams for instance: books.google.com/ngrams/…. Also moon's shadow / shadow of the moon – Matt Sep 24 '13 at 4:15
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    LOL I knew someone would object to that sentence! I was being rigidly prescriptive. As I said, I would use either form casually; I wouldn't, however, use Moon's land/surface/orbit in an academic paper. Some may object to that usage. I like to err on the side of caution when I don't know why the question was asked. Sorry if that wasn't clear. – Giambattista Sep 24 '13 at 4:49

Mother Shipton, an uncanny English "Prophetess" in the 1500s used the term "The Land of the Moon" in an amendment to a prophesy that is said to be held in the Mitchell Library (now State Library of NSW) in Sydney Australia. Some think that she may have been referring to the area of Turkey/Syria/Iraq held by ISIS (ISIL, Daesh). Nexus Magazine had at least two articles of her allegedly foretelling of the future. However, the place where I read this term was on a Christian website which I visited in searching for some info on this "Prophetess" which held the text of the amendment.

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-The Strange and Wonderful History and Prophesies of Mother Shipton (Ursula)

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    do you have references? – JMP Mar 16 '17 at 12:08

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