When is it required to use 's in phrases like below (examples taken from Wikipedia)?

  • James Bond theme
  • 007 theme
  • Boba Fett motif
  • Droids motif
  • Yoda's theme
  • ...

Are there any rules for eliding Saxon genitive?

How does the situation change if we have something instead of somebody?

  • If you add The in front, it would even become The Yoda theme
    – mplungjan
    Dec 17, 2013 at 12:24

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't think of it as "eliding" anything: there are two different constructions:

possessive + noun

modifying-noun + noun

The first is mostly limited to animate possessors, and denotes something belonging to or specifically associated with the possessor, whereas the second is not so limited, and denotes a less specific association.

In the cases you have given, either is possible*, with little or no difference in meaning. But sometimes one is impossible, or there is a difference in meaning. So

007 theme

Means a theme associated with the idea or the person 007, whereas

007's theme

is specifically thinking of 007 as a designation of a person, and specifying a theme associated with that person. Similarly

James Bond theme

is ambiguous as to whether it means a theme specifically associated with the character of Bond, or more generally associated with the phenomenon (or brand) James Bond.

*At first I didn't think "007's theme" was possible, until I remembered that "007" can refer to the person.

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