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Which phrase is better: "software developer life" or "life of software developer"? First one sounds better but I would like to get why in a rather formalised way.

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    I think we need more context here. Is this a proposed title for an article, for example? In most other contexts I can imagine, I'd have thought life as a software developer would work better, but we need to know exactly what OP wants to convey, and in what context. Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 16:06
  • @FubleFingers, it is actually a title Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 16:11
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    I suspected as much. In which case - no disrespect - but I think the question should be migrated to writers.se. Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 16:23

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Whichever way you choose, you're going to need either an article or a plural noun:

1) A Software Developer's Life / The Life of a Software Developer

2) The Software Developer's Life / The Life of the Software Developer

3) Software Developers' Lives / The Lives of Software Developers.

The first would refer to a specific software developer, whereas the second and third would be about the generic software developer or software developers in general.

If you're looking for a title, it may be more common to use the The X of Y form, but semantically they're pretty similar. So long as you've got the grammar in place, I'd say don't stress the difference between the wordings.

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  • Mony Python didn't need an article for Life of Brian. Grammar isn't crucial for titles. Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 16:26
  • Eh. Nothing's crucial for anything.
    – user13141
    Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 16:38
  • Thank you! But why is the second about generic software developer if it uses article "the"? Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 17:09
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    Just to clarify for the OP, the nouns should not be capitalized in a regular sentence. I think this answer assumes that it was a title, in which case his capitalization is correct.
    – Fraser Orr
    Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 17:27
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I think what you might mean is "The Software Developer Lifestyle" or "A Software Developer's Lifestyle".

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The life of a software developer is challenging sounds normal. Sounds like you're talking about their career.

A software developer's life is challenging sounds normal too. Although it sounds more like you're speaking about their overall life, not just the software developer aspect of it.

Software developer life is challenging sounds playful, less normal, like a joke. Like "thug life".

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  • I don't agree with your distinction. The two styles of genitive have basically the same meaning, the only discernable difference if there is one, is that the first places the emphasis on "life" and the second on "software developer".
    – Fraser Orr
    Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 17:26

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