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Can I say "Our school rugby team is good"? or should I say "Our school's rugby team is good?"

Is there a difference?

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  • Semantically, it makes no difference whether you use a noun adjunct (as in User Guide) or a possessive (User's Guide). And that's the same with your school's rugby team or my car's radio - but as a general principle, the shorter the better. Especially for common collocations like these examples. Nov 30, 2020 at 18:41
  • That answers it, thank you!
    – Kramen
    Nov 30, 2020 at 19:05
  • @FumbleFingers I agree that "our school rugby team" and "our schools' rugby team" are equivalent but "my car radio" and "my car's radio" aren't necessarily the same thing. A car radio doesn't need to be fitted in a car to be a car radio so it possible to own a car radio without owning a car. This does not apply to school rugby teams, of course, because you can't have a school rugby team without a school. Having said that it is possible to have a colliery or mill band arfter the colliery or mill has closed.
    – BoldBen
    Nov 30, 2020 at 20:08
  • @BoldBen: I understand the point you're making, but it seems to me it's at least possible to imagine a context involving an entity validly referred to as "a school rugby team" that doesn't actually have an specific associated school. For example, if most/all the players in some existing school's team are moving to a different school, but it's not even known yet which school will "take over" that team. Dec 1, 2020 at 14:21
  • @FumbleFingers But that would only mean that there is a case of non-equivalence between the possessive and adjunct forms in most, if not all cases, it doesn't weaken my point, it strengthens it.
    – BoldBen
    Dec 2, 2020 at 2:25

2 Answers 2

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in "Our school rugby team is good", "school" is a noun adjunct. Essentially we are no longer discussing [rugby team]s but instead [school rugby team]s. Just as the term "rugby" in "rugby teams" narrows the scope from all possible teams to only those focused on rugby, the inclusion of the term "school" narrows the scope from all possible rugby teams to only those based in schools. the "our" is the possessive.

In "Our school's rugby team is good", "our school's" is the possessive and [rugby team]s is the scope.

So the former implies that schools having rugby teams is prevalent enough to place them in their own category while the latter implies only that the school has a rugby team without implying that this is the norm

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Both meanings are identical. The only difference is in formality, with the apostrophe version being slightly less formal, and thus not appropriate for some contexts.

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