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Thread: possessive

  1. #1
    High on grammar is offline Junior Member
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    Post possessive

    Dear English language teacher:
    According to “ The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language”: a ship’s doctor is is accepted , a school’s doctor is not( should be “a school doctor”)



    I saw many examples “the school’s doctor” on Googlebooks but none of “ a school’s doctor”. I would like to know the difference between the two.

    If “ a ship’s doctor” is acceptable in English then what is it about “ a school’s doctor that makes it non-English but when you use “the” before it, it becomes acceptable.

    Here
    is what I found on googlebooks:


    Source:

    "The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings: A Five-Generation History-page 9"

    A frail thirteen-year-old freshman with barely skin on his bones, Jack tired of being treated by
    the school's doctorfor weeks on end; at dinner, rather than chatting with the rest of the kids, he sat quietly next to the doctor and the headmaster's ...



    Thanks a million.
    Last edited by High on grammar; 18-Nov-2012 at 22:31.

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: possessive

    Welcome to the forum, High on grammar.

    A ship's doctor is resident on board and his full-time job is to care for the crew and passengers.

    No school is big enough or wealthy enough to employ its own doctor, so a school doctor will visit a number of schools.

    (We do not have school doctors in the UK.)

    The articles 'a' or 'the' before either of these terms do not make them English or non-English.

    'He is a ship's doctor' means he works on an unspecified ship.

    'He is the ship's doctor' is how the captain of a particular ship would refer to him.

    Rover

  3. #3
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    Default Re: possessive

    When I was a child, we had a nurse who worked full-time at my primary school. She was referred to as the "school nurse", not the "school's nurse". It's similar to "the school principal" and "a university professor".
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  4. #4
    High on grammar is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: possessive

    Sorry, Rover!
    I included the wrong citation from Googlebooks.
    Here is what I meant
    Source:

    "The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings: A Five-Generation History-page 9"

    A frail thirteen-year-old freshman with barely skin on his bones, Jack tired of being treated by
    the school's doctor for weeks on end; at dinner, rather than chatting with the rest of the kids, he sat quietly next to the doctor and the headmaster's ...


    In the example above, "school's doctor" becomes possible because it is preceded by "the". But, a school's doctor is not possible. Could you elaborate on this for me?
    Thanks a million

  5. #5
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    Default Re: possessive

    Can I clarify something? Are you asking about the difference between "school doctor" and "school's doctor", or between "a school's doctor" and "the school's doctor"?
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  6. #6
    High on grammar is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: possessive

    My question is why is it possible to use " the school's doctor", as the citation from Googlebooks shows , but not "a school's doctor"

    A frail thirteen-year-old freshman with barely skin on his bones, Jack tired of being treated by
    the school's doctor for weeks on end; at dinner, rather than chatting with the rest of the kids, he sat quietly next to the doctor and the headmaster's ...


    In other words, I am asking about " "school doctor" and "school's doctor"

    Thanks again

  7. #7
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    Default Re: possessive

    Quote Originally Posted by High on grammar View Post
    My question is why is it possible to use " the school's doctor", as the citation from Googlebooks shows , but not "a school's doctor"


    In other words, I am asking about " "school doctor" and "school's doctor"
    I'm still confused. I have left just two sentences from your previous post above. Your first sentence says you are asking about the difference between "a school's doctor" and "the school's doctor". The second says you are asking about the difference between "school doctor" and "school's doctor".

    1. What is the difference between "school doctor" and "school's doctor"?
    2. What is the difference between "a school's doctor" and "the school's doctor"?

    Would you like us to answer question 1 or question 2?
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  8. #8
    High on grammar is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: possessive

    Question 1
    Sorry for the confusion.
    Thanks

  9. #9
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    Default Re: possessive

    The Kennedy family were, and are, very wealthy. The school was probably an expensive and rich private school with its own full time doctor.

  10. #10
    High on grammar is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: possessive

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    The Kennedy family were, and are, very wealthy. The school was probably an expensive and rich private school with its own full time doctor.
    Thank you all. Your answers have been really helpful.

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