Jumat, 11 Februari 2011

[Grammar] Possessive Form (‘s) of Nouns

Generally, the possessive case (‘s) of nouns is used for notions which can also be expressed with a construction using the verb have or have got.

My uncle’s car
= My uncle has got a car.
Rizal’s brother
= Rizal has got a brother.
The dog’s nose
= The dog has got a nose.
Jenny’s patience
= Jenny has got patience.

To make the possessive form of nouns:
¨ Add (‘s) to a singular noun:
His son’s experiences.
¨ Add only an apostrophe (‘) to a plural noun:
His sons’ experiences.
¨ Add (‘s) to an irregular plural noun:
The women’s experiences.
¨ Add (‘s) to singular nouns or names ending in -s:
The witness’s experiences.
Charles’s experiences.
¨ Add only (‘) to older and classical names ending in ‘s. (Sometimes the ‘s is still pronounced):
Archimedes’ experiences. (Pronounced: Archimedes’s).
¨ Add the possessive (‘s) only to the last word of a noun phrase:
The couple next door’s experiences.
Tom and Jerry’s experiences.
(But: Tom’s and Jerry’s experiences means they each have their own different experiences).

Places can be indicated in this way:
I want to go to the butcher’s (shop). (Or: to the butcher).
Let’s have a hamburger at Wendy’s or McDonald’s (restaurant).
He’s at the dentist’s (office).
They were standing in front of St. Peter’s (Cathedral).
He is staying at his grandfather’s (house).

The possessive (‘s) form is normally used when we talk about a person or living thing. But the alternate of- phrase may be preferred for long and awkward phrases:
¨ For example, instead of saying:
The much admired playwright’s beautifully furnished home.
It’s better to say:
The beautifully furnished home of the much admired playwright.
¨ Also, the following phrase using the plural possessive of brothers-in-law:
My two brothers-in-law’s children.
Would sound less awkward when rephrased into:
The children of my two brothers-in-law.
¨ When referring to inanimate things, the of- phrase is usually preferred, e.g.:
The windows of the house.
¨ Often, both structures are possible:
The plane’s arrival     or     the arrival of the plane.
The drug’s effect     or     the effect of the drug.

The possessive form may be chosen for the following non-living things:
¨ A particular thing specified by a time expression:
Today’s paper.
An hour’s (or: a one-hour) delay.
¨ A natural phenomenon:
The sun’s rays.
The earth’s atmosphere.
¨ A name representing a group of people either working or belonging together:
The school’s atmosphere.
The company’s new policy.
The country’s development.
¨ Also expressions using measurement:
3 dollars’ worth.
A stone’s throw.

Notice in the following sentences the difference between a structure using (‘s) and one without (‘s):
¨ Stop by the supermarket on your way home and buy me some dog food.
Dog food = a type of food.
¨ Don’t forget to add some vitamins to the dog’s (e.g. Blakie’s) food.
The dog’s food = food given to a particular dog (Blackie).

Source: Contact Magazine Volume. 6 No. 35, April - May 1999

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