I wonder where we can make genitive without 's or of. I know that using "of" in "dorm room door" might be complicated but the question is when we are allowed to make such phrases. enter image description here

  • Expressions such as bathroom door, saucepan lid, bottle top are perfectly standard. – Kate Bunting Mar 20 '19 at 9:12
  • It's not a genitive. In texts the boundaries are sometimes clear, sometimes not, for instance: ( (dorm room) (door) ) ... ( (hotel) (room key) ) or ( (hotel room) (key) ) although in speech the intonation/prosody would indicate the boundary. The speaker might say hotel-room key or hotel room-key. – TRomano Mar 20 '19 at 9:24
  • Is there any rule for using this form or we are allowed to use it whenever we want instead of using "... Of...." – Kazfak Mar 20 '19 at 9:26
  • There will always be exceptions but there's a very good chance that any combination you could dream up would be idiomatic, if the nouns refer to tangible things. Garage window. Candy wrapper. Car tire. Bicycle pump. Salad fork. Rain hat. Nose ring. Gate latch. Park bench. – TRomano Mar 20 '19 at 9:30
  • Thanks. I got my answer so you can write it as an answer for confirmation. – Kazfak Mar 20 '19 at 9:33

Swan in Practical English Usage has an entry called noun + noun: advanced points. In the parts section (p360) he states:

We use the 's structure to talk about parts of people's and animals' bodies.

  • a man's leg -- an elephant's trunk -- a sheep's heart.

But to talk about parts of non-living things, we usually use the noun + noun structure.

  • a table leg (NOT a table's leg)

  • a car door (NOT USUALLY a car's door)

This is not a hard-and-fast rule, as indicated by the not usually in the last example. Nevertheless, it is a useful guideline for English language learners.

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  • Very interesting point. This is related to noun animacy, according to this paper: ac.els-cdn.com/S002438410700023X/… – Tim Foster Mar 20 '19 at 10:25
  • "Leg" and "door" are inherent parts of "table" and "car", and hence are complements. – BillJ Mar 20 '19 at 13:13

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