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117

Short answer Yes, this argument does have a basis in linguistic fact, which is why some people do it in the first place, but that doesn't mean it must be correct in Standard English (and it isn't). Longer Answer This argument does hold water in the linguistic sense. "My wife and I" is, in fact, a phrase — a syntactic constituent. The fact that this ...


97

The word "whose" is used in several different grammatical ways. For some of these (see my original answer below), it has been grammatical to use it for inanimate objects, at least since the days of Shakespeare. For others (see my update), it is only used for people or animals. ORIGINAL ANSWER: Many people seem to believe that you cannot use whose for ...


56

As the doctor also has an appointment with you, doctor's appointment is appropriate in its own right. It is also by far the most common as a set phrase: Any other plural usage would be entirely subjective. Graph source: Google Books Ngram


47

The most useful rule — and the most general and the easiest to remember — is simply that you add ’s whenever you actually say an extra /əz/ at the end when forming the possessive, compared with how you say the non-possessive version. Let your own ear be your guide. That’s all there is to it. No fancy rules full of exceptions. Just your own ear (as a native ...


45

The fourth example is the correct interpretation of day's, but with two things to keep in mind. First, in your conclusion you flipped the words around incorrectly*; the journey "belongs to" the day, not the other way around. You could re-write the sentence as: The house is a journey of a full day from here. Second, while the journey is "of a day," this ...


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 ...


42

This seems baffling, but what is special about today's? I think it comes down to this: We cannot use two genitives to modify a single noun. At least not outside Indian English. Today's is a "genitive". I don't want to use the common possessive here, because it's hard to imagine actual possession in this case. For this answer I will use "genitive" to refer ...


41

It's called a "transferred epithet"- the possessive case is incidental, as in... I had a good night's sleep: The good sleep was mine to enjoy, but it is attributed to the night it happened. He put in a honest day's work: The quality or extent of work belonged to the doer, but it is attributed to the day.


40

Both are fine. However, the first response is the most common way to answer. Very empathetic people might say my mum. Turn the sentence around; would you say "I'd apologize to your mum if I were you" or "I'd apologize to my mum if I were you"? Probably the former. If I were you, I'd... is a common way to give someone advice; it is not meant to be ...


39

What you say is “I am her boyfriend”, which most of the time is more true.


34

Simply use we: We are partners. We are seeing each other exclusively. We are boyfriend and girlfriend. (If you really need to spell it out...)


33

English whose is somewhat like Latin cuius or Spanish cuyo in that it is strictly a function word. It is just fine for anything at all. You cannot use which there. However, it does make a difference whether you use whose as a relative pronoun or as an interrogative pronoun. This one is ok: These are the fires whose fuel needs replenishing. But this ...


32

The correct answer is one's! All possessives get an apostrophe, except the standard possessive pronouns and these are: yours, his, hers, ours, theirs, its Apart of these, always add an apostrophe.


31

The apostrophe indicates possession. Without an apostrophe you are indicating plurality. Since the point you are trying to convey is that the assumption you made yesterday is no longer valid, the apostrophe is appropriate. Yesterday's assumption is no longer valid. It's kind of like saying "The assumption of yesterday".


31

Mrs is the written form of missus. The EtymOnline entry writes that missus is a: corruption of mistress; as oral form of Mrs., from 1790; the missus “the wife” attested by 1833. Tracing back further to the entry for mistress uncovers: early 14c., "female teacher, governess," from O.Fr. maistresse, fem. of maistre "master" (see master). Sense of "a ...


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 ...


27

Your teacher is correct that there is ambiguity there, you could be referring to either the company that you own or the company that you work for. However, you are correct that this ambiguity hardly ever arises in practice, for two reasons: first, there is only a small percentage of people who own a company, so you're not too likely to be in a situation ...


26

Professor David Crystal explains it in his book The Fight for English: How language pundits ate, shot, and left (Crystal 2006), pp. 134-135: Its is just as possessive as cat's, but it doesn't have an apostrophe. Why not? Because the printers and grammarians [of the nineteenth century - Alex B.] never thought the matter through [emphasis mine - Alex B.]. ...


26

You offended your mom. So if I were you, I would apologize to your mom when she gets home. But: You offended my mom. So if I were you, I would apologize to my mom when she gets home.


25

It is perhaps worth adding the contrast identified in the ‘Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English’: When the possessive alternative is used, it focuses attention on the action described in the ‘-ing’ clause. In contrast the regular Noun Phrase form puts more emphasis on the person doing the action.


25

That shell is not mine. Nor is it yours. It belongs to that snail over there. That shell is its, not mine or yours. As you can see, this construction doesn't occur often, because possession is not often attributed to neuter nouns, let alone pronouns.


25

Usually, a noun phrase in English must have exactly one determiner: you can say "I drove the car" or "I drove my car", but not "I drove car" or "I drove the my car". Certain nouns (such as plural nouns and proper nouns) don't need determiners: "I love bees", "I love milk", "I love Paris", "I love biology". But I can't think of a case where it's ever legal ...


25

There are a few limited cases for which an apostrophe is not used to indicate possession. For example, if you're referring to something belonging to it or her, the correct form is its or hers, with no apostrophe. Such an exception does not apply to column. If you want to refer to the width of a particular column, you would say the column's width. In the ...


24

There is a bias against the genitive case with inanimate things, that is sometimes found in advice to avoid it in some cases. In some cases that advice is indeed, that one should only use it with people and sometimes that one should only use it with living things. (So "the dog's" is allowed, but "the car's" is not). Fowler raged against it, and blamed ...


24

There have been a number of efforts to create new pronouns that would be gender neutral. Some other posters here have given examples. But none of these have really caught on. I'll hazard the prediction that none will. It's difficult enough to invent a new word and get people to use it. To invent a new word in a context where people are routinely using an ...


24

The difference is in the number of users. User's guide: A guide belonging to one user. Users' guide: A guide belonging to all the users. I'd be inclined to use the first sense rather than the second sense, since the "one" user is really an abstract representation of all the users anyway.


22

Because the dozen isn't the collective property of all bakers, but of a generic baker. It's the same reason it's a carpenter's square, a driver's license, or a greengrocer's apostrophe. You see both farmer's market and farmers' market because there are several farmers selling at a farmers' market, so you can also think of it as a market that collectively ...


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 ...


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