I'm quite sure that I can say the Onegin's score meaning the opera “Eugene Onegin”. However, i feel that it's wrong to say the Onegin's leg meaning the character Eugene Onegin and that the correct form is Onegin's leg. Do I understand correct? Does that mean, that we can use the + possessive only if we talk about inanimated concepts?

  • 3
    No, you can't say "the Onegin's score". Why do you think you can? Jun 19, 2014 at 13:35
  • Peter Shor, thank you! Why is that? Can this rule be applied to any opera name or just to those named after characters?
    – BukvaCe
    Jun 19, 2014 at 13:38
  • 2
    You can say "the Onegin score", "the score of Onegin", or "Onegin's score", but not "the Onegin's score". This rule applies to any opera name. (And in fact, you can't put "the" before a possessive unless you can put "the" before the noun that possesses. That is, if you say "the mother's name", you mean "name of the mother", not "the name of mother". So you can't say "the Onegin's score" because you can't say "the Onegin".) Jun 19, 2014 at 13:42
  • @PeterShor - What if the name of the work includes an article? Is The Phantom's score correct?
    – oerkelens
    Jun 19, 2014 at 14:48
  • If the name of the work includes an article, then you can include the article in the possessive. You can say "The Phantom", so you can say "The Phantom's score". Jun 19, 2014 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


A phrase like "The somebody's thing" means that the 'thing' is owned by "The Somebody". The definite article is applying to 'somebody' not 'thing'.

So you can say "The President's leg", meaning a leg of "the President" (it's implied that there is only one president by the context). "The Onegin's Score" would have to be the score of "The Onegin", and since "The Onegin" shouldn't be used, the rest shouldn't either. The same applies to legs.

Correct English would be "The score of Onegin". or "The leg of Onegin"; also "Onegin's score" or "Onegin's leg". You can also say "The Onegin score", which may sound the same, meaning the score called Onegin.

If the definite article is part of the title, then you can say it - for example: "The Flying Dutchman's score".

  • DJClayworth, it was the clearest explanation I've ever heard. Thanks a lot.
    – BukvaCe
    Jun 19, 2014 at 17:41
  • In this case, "the Onegin" is not referring to a person. "Onegin" is an abbreviated form of the name of an opera, and the score belongs to the opera, not the titular character.
    – Barmar
    Jun 20, 2014 at 23:29
  • @BukvaCe You can show your appreciation by voting up and/or accepting the answer :-) Jun 21, 2014 at 3:29

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