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  1. #1
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    Aug 2004
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    Default "apostrophe s" or "of" (possessive usage)

    Hello,

    I'm from Japan. I have a question about possessives.

    I know, and checked with grammar books, that
    "apostrophe s" is used with people and animals (animate) and
    "of" is used with things (inanimate), as shown bellow:

    *The color of the house...
    *Tom's new baseball glove...

    In my English textbook, there is a sentence:
    "The leader of the Mongols... ."

    Is it incorrect to say,
    "the Mongols' leader..." ?

    Best regards,
    M.K

  2. #2
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: "apostrophe s" or "of" (possessive usage)

    You can say the Mongols' leader in the same way you can say an Englishman's home. In is not incorrect. Sometimes saying the leader of the Mongols just sounds better, more poetic.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: "apostrophe s" or "of" (possessive usage)

    Yeah,

    It is incorrect to say that. The correct phrase would be -- "The Mongols' Leader" -- Please notice that the Apostrophe come AFTER the alphabet "s" Hope this satisfies.

    Arindam Atlekar
    Mumbai, India

  4. #4
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    Default Re: "apostrophe s" or "of" (possessive usage)

    Quote Originally Posted by kk
    Hello,
    I'm from Japan. I have a question about possessives.
    I know, and checked with grammar books, that
    "apostrophe s" is used with people and animals (animate) and
    "of" is used with things (inanimate), as shown bellow:
    *The color of the house...
    *Tom's new baseball glove...
    In my English textbook, there is a sentence:
    "The leader of the Mongols... ."
    Is it incorrect to say,
    "the Mongols' leader..." ?
    Best regards,
    M.K
    Please don't be fooled by over-prescriptive grammar books. This is a guide NOT a rule.

    For example, it is perfectly acceptable to say "The car's headlights were out of alignment." In fact, the supposedly 'correct' form "The headlights of the car were out of alignment." is rare in actual usage. It is less common than the non-genitive alternative "The headlights on the car were out of alignment."

    Caveat dictator

  5. #5
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    Mar 2006
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    Default Re: "apostrophe s" or "of" (possessive usage)

    Quote Originally Posted by Arindam Atlekar
    Yeah,
    It is incorrect to say that. The correct phrase would be -- "The Mongols' Leader" -- Please notice that the Apostrophe come AFTER the alphabet "s" Hope this satisfies.
    Arindam Atlekar
    Mumbai, India
    Er, I beg to differ. It is not incorrect at all. Either are possible and both are correct.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "apostrophe s" or "of" (possessive usage)

    Both are correct, though as it's a formal grouping, the 'leader of the Mongols' is actually very likely to be used.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: "apostrophe s" or "of" (possessive usage)

    "Leader of the Mongols" usually means the leader of the Mongol nation as a whole. "The Mongols' leader" usually means the leader of a group of individuals, who happen to be Mongols.

    West Side Story tells the story of two gangs, a gang of white Americans and a gang of Costa Ricans. The Costa Ricans' leader has a sister who falls in love with a member of the other gang. Here we are talking about that specific group of Costa Ricans living in New York, not the entire Costa Rican nation.

    You may find examples where this rule is not observed, and it's not a "must", but it is often followed.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: "apostrophe s" or "of" (possessive usage)

    Hi.

    Thank you all for your replies.
    Each of them have been truly helpful.
    Especially the examples were very clear for
    a non-native English learner like me to understand.

    I will not be checking on this tread any longer as no
    additional posts seems to be added.

    Thank you

    kk

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