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  1. Junior Member
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      • Spanish
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      • Spain
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    • Join Date: Feb 2011
    • Posts: 99

    Apostrophe S & "of"

    Hi there everyone,

    Why can I say...

    He is John's uncle.
    That’s Jack's new bike.

    but it's not common to say...

    He is the uncle of John.
    That is the new bike of Jack.

    However, I can say any of the following...

    She’s the school’s headmistress.
    She’s the headmistress of the school.

    They’re the show’s stars.
    They’re the stars of the show.

  2. nyota's Avatar
    Senior Member
    Interested in Language
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      • Polish
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      • Poland
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      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2009
    • Posts: 615

    Re: Apostrophe S & "of"

    The genitive with of is usually used with inanimate nouns:
    the leg of the table.

    The of construction can be found with animate nouns if there's a phrase or a relative clause following:
    What is the name of the guest {in the long white dress} {who came first}

    The -s genitive occurs with animate nouns:
    the family's money, the cat's food

    However, there are some cases when inanimate nouns are used with it:
    the country's beauty (country is personified here)
    a month's time (month denotes the length or duration)
    a park's area, five yards' length (measurement)
    fifty dollars' worth of flowers (value)
    the brain's power, the science's development (special interest to human activity)
    to be at death's door (idiomatic expression)
    the nation's problems, the club's terrains (optionally, when inanimate nouns refer to a group of people, to places where people live or human institutions)

    That' a very black-and-white explanation, I bet the usage of the genitive's not so clear-cut and also changing but it's a start.
    Last edited by nyota; 23-Feb-2011 at 21:22.

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