I have been thinking about word order and its meaning, thus when we have for instance:

  1. Planet of the apes or Apes planet
  2. Proposal for extra work or Extra work proposal

Which is the more usual way of writing the above sentences and when should we use one or another?

  • 1
    Don't add "thanks" or "best regards" to your questions. They are considered noise, and will be removed.
    – user10893
    Jun 20, 2012 at 0:01
  • 3
    Well, for starts, they're not sentences; they're noun phrases. Second, the rule is: [one-word] modifiers precede the noun, but modifiers [of more than one word] follow it. Jun 20, 2012 at 0:02
  • Simchona my bad, sorry.
    – utxeee
    Jun 20, 2012 at 10:57
  • John Lawler, can you elaborate a little more, please ?
    – utxeee
    Jun 20, 2012 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


First off, if we did use the alternate structure, "Planet of the Apes" will become "The Apes' Planet" and "Ape Planet," but not "Apes Planet."

In "Ape Planet," the first Noun is already acting as an Adjective so it can't be Plural. But its meaning is Plural.

I know the direction your question is going but your choice of examples isn't so good. Everybody knows "Planet of the Apes" as the title of a novel later adapted into TV and film. It works better too with that as a title (better than "The Apes' Planet").

For your second example, we sometimes have a lot of Nouns as Adjectives. For example, "data traffic reduction scheme."

Newspapers usually do this to their headlines. Because they need to save space. But I personally find them harder to read:

Data Traffic Reduction Bill Passed!

So, your example "extra work proposal," you could write it down like that and I'd just read it backwards.

You can also just write it clearer as: "Proposal for Extra Work."

  • Hi Cool Elf, Is there any situation or context where we should one instead of another ?
    – utxeee
    Jun 20, 2012 at 9:04
  • This might help: people and animals = Noun's Noun. things and ideas = Noun of Noun (sometimes Noun Noun). organizations = Noun's Noun or Noun of Noun. places = Noun's Noun.
    – Cool Elf
    Jun 20, 2012 at 11:24
  • However, I have to warn you that these are not absolute. For instance, you can't use Noun's Noun if the first Noun is too long (ex. my friend who has a car's)
    – Cool Elf
    Jun 20, 2012 at 11:25

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