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43

In The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, the late Burchfield offered a guide to the use of possessive s and of with inanimate nouns. It is the most comprehensive and well founded stylistic advice I could find on the subject. He had worked on the Oxford English Dictionary and knew a lot about language and style. A summary: A noun that is possessive or ...


29

As few people are addressing the '"more scientific™" sources' bit of the question, it should be pointed out that there are a number of English style guides out there, practically all of which should cover the topic of forming possessives with apostrophe-s (as it's a frequent issue even with native speakers). You should be able to find copies of at least one ...


22

The strongest endorsement that I could find from a UK English source in favor of using 's after singular nouns of any kind to indicate possession is this brief treatment from The Oxford Guide to Style (Oxford University Press, 2002): 5.2.1 Possession Use 's after singular nouns and indefinite pronouns that do not end in s: [Examples:] the boy's ...


21

A piece of advice here from someone who did a CS Master's thesis himself: You don't. You write it the way they want it written. Consider it like a house style guide. The rules in style guides aren't the only way to do proper English; just the way they do it there. Your goal here is to get a CS Master's, not a Booker Prize. Look at it this way: Your advisor ...


17

From Charles Darwin's Origin of Species OR THE PRESERVATION OF FAVOURED RACES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. From the First Edition, 1859 One of the most remarkable features in our domesticated races is that we see in them adaptation, not indeed to the animal's or plant's own good, but to man's use or fancy. […] How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of ...


13

"Emily's" can be a contraction – like when you're saying: Emily's going with us tomorrow. However, you've used a possessive, which is not the same thing as a contraction. Remember, if you've used a contraction, you should be able to split the word back into two: Emily is going with us tomorrow. But you can't do that with "Emily's argument." So, I ...


12

Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage (1966) vigorously opposes applying a possessive 's to an inanimate thing (as in "this blog's existence"), calling such possessives "false" and concluding that "we must stick to the ancestral rule which, with a few exceptions, reserves possessives in 's for ownership by a person." Shoe's answer cites a similar (though ...


11

Michael Swan writes in Practical English Usage (2005.441-2) "With nouns which are not the names of people, animal, countries, etc, 's is less common, and a structure with a preposition (usually of) is more common." However, he adds "... both structures are possible in some expressions. [..] Unfortunately it is not possible to give useful general rules in ...


9

Nobody's more standard than Shakespeare, who says: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Blow, blow, thou winter wind! Thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude. How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child! More modern examples (and older ones) can be taken from book titles: The Monkey's Paw. Man's Search for ...


8

"An agent of King Ronald's" is completely correct, as any grammar book will tell you. It is called a "double genitive" and just like "A friend of mine," "A friend of his," etc. are grammatically correct, so too is "An agent of King Ronald's". No doubt some poorly educated teachers have mistakenly taught otherwise but that happens a lot. The Chicago Manual ...


7

To a native American English speaker (at least to me), these have different implied meanings: decoding time - Can mean how long the decoding process takes, if you write "Decoding time will depend upon..." or when the decoding happens, if you write "At decoding time, ..." time of decoding - when the decoding takes place data compression - Can refer to the ...


6

Well, if one wanted to be very picky, Emily's argument is a contraction of the Old English possessive form -es. However, unlike the case of something like: Emily's a nice girl which would be a contraction of Emily is a nice girl the 's is now considered just a suffix and is not really a contraction of any modern English word. Wikipedia reports: ...


6

my son's photo could mean a photo showing my son, a photo belonging to my son a photo taken by my son or any combination of those meanings a photo of my son can only mean a photo showing my son


6

You don't have to do it, but it is common to say (if not write) "a friend of Ronald's", by analogy with "a friend of mine". "A friend of me" might be logically defensible but idiomatically, it is emphatically wrong. The structure is called the "double genitive". Also, if King Ronald owned many paintings, including one depicting his sister, and she owned ...


5

No. It's best to avoid such constructs entirely, and (as this site and others recommend) create the possessive with a prepositional phrase like the parking at McDonald's.


5

My English professor told me that we use of when we are talking about something that is part of or related to another thing. For example, ceiling of my room or subject of the lecture. But 's is used when we are speaking about the ownership relationships and usually related to a person. For example Ali's car or students' room. But according to my researches, ...


5

I think you might be mistaking attributive nouns in noun–noun compounds for possessive nouns with apostrophes, but I’m not completely certain. When you have a child entertainer, the word child is used attributively not possessively. A noun or noun phrase in English is only considered possessive when it is written with an actual apostrophe, as you would ...


4

I sang to John and Mary's daughter. This is ordinarily understood to express your 'I sang to a female who calls her father John, and calls her mother Mary'. John and Mary is a single conjunctive expression standing in a genitive relationship to daughter. If you want to distinguish this from 'I sang to a guy named John and I sang to this girl who said she ...


4

It's true that the Saxon Genitive indicates possession but there is a rule that I think hasn't been mentioned yet (in this question at least), that says that the it is usually adopted with animated objects or better with nouns that refer to living things: Kate's website; Robert's car. This rule is not absolute and strict, and many people use the possessive ...


4

There are actually three possible constructions to express what you want to (using decoding + time): decoding time, time of decoding, and decoding's time. Yes, that's right: I'm going out on a limb here and saying there are cases where you might use "decoding's time" — as odd as that may sound. Let's look at the different meanings (N.B. I am taking the most ...


4

If you are wondering why we don't say 'the motor's speed', it is just that idiomatically, with very specific things we simply drop the apostrophe s. Doctor's and nurses will talk about their patients' 'heart rate', 'pulse rate', 'breathing rate', 'blood count', 'flesh tone'. We talk about having 'kidney trouble', or 'liver trouble'. When driving a car we ...


4

No, these are two very different things: push the weight off of Ira Means there is a weight on Ira, and you want to push it off (saving Ira). push off the weight of Ira Ira weighs heavy on the subject, who wants to discard Ira (saving the subject). To say "the weight of Ira" is "Ira's weight" is ungrammatical in my opinion. When "the" is involved, ...


4

Is it really your supervisor you need to impress? Is it not an external examiner? You have put a lot of work and effort into your research, and you obviously care about the quality of your work. I personally would not concede on true quality just to get the thesis 'through the system'. Having said that, I think that If the humidity of each plant is ...


4

Neither is correct; no apostrophe is needed with this construction. However, if you said '...at our neighbours' house', the apostrophe goes at the end if more than one person lives there, or before the 's' if the neighbour lives alone. My neighbour's house (one person) My neighbours' house (more than one) The house of my neighbour The house of my ...


3

Usually native speakers would prefer the phrase: I'm reading a novel by Steinbeck by denotes authorship, of and the possessive apostrophe are instead associated with ownership. Compare: "I'm reading a book of my father" which is ambiguous without previous or further context. (1) The book might be about my father; (2) he could be the owner of the said ...


3

David Marsh - Production Editor at the Guardian newspaper and contributor to that paper's "Mind Your Language" column - would prefer "Goat's Milk". Here is his rationale: Phrases such as butcher's hook, collector's item, cow's milk, goat's cheese and writer's cramp are best treated as singular. We either don't know or don't care whether one cow, or ...


3

Also, because I don't know exactly how this should be called? I call it ownership. But what's its proper name? Formally these are both genitive case (or possessive case), and indicate ownership. "Dragon's Year" - this is sometimes called the Saxon genitive. "Year of the Dragon" - this is a noun phrase with "of the Dragon" as a complement in the form of a ...


3

My son's photo could mean 'a photo belonging to my son', but it will normally mean 'a photo of my son'. The context will in any case make it clear which is intended.


3

Those are all just fine. Imagine your boss’s husband’s sister’s hairdresser’s salon, for example. Those all just chain together. We don’t have to write the salon of the hairdresser of the sister of the husband of your boss in English, and really should avoid doing so. :)


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