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    #1

    Use of 's

    Dear All,

    I know that you use an apostrophe followed by an s to indicate possesion (Jim's car).

    Why is it however that in some cases that look like it should be used it is not, e.g. we say company house rather than company's house? Reading a book on English Medieval history, at some point it was saying Paston tomb where I though it should be Paston's tomb.

    Is there any rule for differentiating?

    Regards,
    George

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    #2

    Re: Use of 's

    "the company's house" "company's" is a possessive noun.
    "the company house" "company is an adjective modifying "house".

    The above explanation also applies below.

    "Paston's tomb"
    "the Paston tomb"

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    #3

    Re: Use of 's

    As 2006 has indicated, both are possible. From a technical viewpoint the two forms differ in that the possessive-case form is classified as a determiner, whereas the common-case form (i.e. without -'s) is classified as a modifier.

    This technical difference, however, is important, since it relates directly to the use of articles: determinative NPs take the article that is appropriate to them, the entire phrase thus formed standing as determiner to the head noun, so that the head noun itself can take no article. A modifier, on the other hand, takes no article, and is therefore preceded by the article appropriate to the head noun.

    Thus, we have, e.g.

    This is [Paston's] [tomb].

    (Not: *...[the Paston's] [tomb], since proper names cannot normally be preceded by articles.)

    but

    This is [the Paston tomb].


    (with 'the' relating to 'tomb' and adjective 'Paston' simply interposed like any other adjective).

    As to which kind of adjunct, the determinative or the modificative, is appropriate in any given case, the difference may be negligible (as in the case above: provided we understand that Paston was a person who died, there is no risk of ambiguity according to choice of adjunct), but may in other cases impact to a more or less significant extent on meaning/reference, or may simply be fixed by convention.

    Instances are too numerous to cite, so you would probably do best to check any doubtful cases with a native. A good learners' dictionary, however, should provide some guidance.

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    #4

    Re: Use of 's

    Quote Originally Posted by gklcity View Post
    Dear All,

    I know that you use an apostrophe followed by an s to indicate possesion (Jim's car).

    Why is it however that in some cases that look like it should be used it is not, e.g. we say company house rather than company's house? Reading a book on English Medieval history, at some point it was saying Paston tomb where I though it should be Paston's tomb.

    Is there any rule for differentiating?

    Regards,
    George
    a woman's heart
    a her heart

    [a woman]'s
    [she]'s = her

    a woman's heart
    her heart


    Set up on the basis of their position in the noun phrase in relation to each other, there are three classes of determiners:

    -central
    -pre
    - post

    In tree's trunk, tree's belong where? I really do not know.

    the tree's trunk -- the seems to hinge on tree and not trunk, the head noun
    my tree's trunk ≠ my trunk
    my tree's trunk = my tree

    my tree's two trunk = two trunk (genetically modified tree)

    Conclusion: Determiners formed by the use of a generic noun plus a possessive suffix can't be preceded by another determiner that defines directly the head noun. But they can be followed by a postdeterminer. Central determiners comes to mind tentatively. But I have another thought: The taxonomical system of determiners relates to the closed class of words. tree's can't be classified on such basis. Closed class of words can.
    What do you think, Philo? Am I correct?

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    #5

    Re: Use of 's

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    The taxonomical system of determiners relates to the closed class of words. tree's can't be classified on such basis. Closed class of words can.
    What do you think, Philo? Am I correct?
    Not really: determiners are not a closed set (you are perhaps thinking of prepositions or conjunctions, which are), since any possessive-case NP can function as one, and the set of English nouns is, of course, quite open.

    Otherwise, your remarks here appear to be correct.

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    #6

    Re: Use of 's

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    Not really: determiners are not a closed set (you are perhaps thinking of prepositions or conjunctions, which are), since any possessive-case NP can function as one, and the set of English nouns is, of course, quite open.

    Otherwise, your remarks here appear to be correct.
    Coolio! Gracias!

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    #7

    Re: Use of 's

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    Coolio! Gracias!

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    #8

    Re: Use of 's

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    What is your relationship with transformational grammar, Philo? I waded myself through two books. Baas Arts and Radford reformulated my ideas about several concepts that I have learnt in traditional books. Why do you think this forum is mainly traditional in the sense only traditional ideas are discussed?

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    #9

    Re: Use of 's

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    What is your relationship with transformational grammar, Philo? I waded myself through two books. Baas Arts and Radford reformulated my ideas about several concepts that I have learnt in traditional books. Why do you think this forum is mainly traditional in the sense only traditional ideas are discussed?
    I think this is meat for a new thread, Corum, but my view in a nutshell is extremely simple: if the correct structuring of a sentence can be explained satisfactorily with reference to traditional grammar (and at least, in my experience, 99% can), why bother attempting to explain the same linguistic phenomena via other methods? In short, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

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    #10

    Re: Use of 's

    Thanks for your comment, Philo. I can reverse your idea and ask: If the correct structuring of a sentence can be explained satisfactorily with reference to transformational grammar, why bother attempting to explain the same linguistic phenomena via other methods?

    Is TG less popular because it came later?

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