I read the following sentence and I was wondering if this is correct:

"Society and activist, non-governmental organizations monitor the sustainability performance of firms."

Or is "monitor firms' sustainability performance" preferable, using the Saxon genitive?

Thank you!

  • 2
    The firm's is singular and indicates one specific firm, not all firms. Since the difference between singular and plural would depend on apostrophe placement with a preposed genitive, I'd go with of because it doesn't require silent letters. Apr 25 '20 at 14:04
  • Unfortunately, this was my mistake. It is supposed to be "monitor firms' sustainability performance" due to the plural form. Is the first sentence grammatically wrong? What´s about the sentence mentioned here.
    – Zev
    Apr 25 '20 at 14:15
  • This is a good place not to use the apostrophe genitive. If anything, the first sentence is more grammatical. Some days I just want to line up all English textbook writers and shoot them. Apr 25 '20 at 14:35
  • @John Lawler Along with all the greengrocers? Actually, they're key workers, so I'd oppose this step. Apr 25 '20 at 14:42
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Can one explain the different distributions of the Saxon and the analytic (Norman) (periphrastic, 'of') genitive Here, 'monitor the sustainability performance of firms' sounds far better than 'monitor firms' sustainability performance' partly because it just sounds better, but partly because the periphrastic (of-) genitive adds gravitas: the formal, professional touch. The Saxon genitive hints at familiarity, intimacy. Apr 25 '20 at 14:43