Student or Learner
I did some excercises that said that I had to replace The Common Case with The Possesive Case, whenever it was possible. Here are the sentences where The Common Case cannot be replaced with The Possesive Case, according to the answers:
The walls of the room (I wrote: The room's walls)
The pages of the book (I wrote: The book's pages)
I however can't find the rule which confirms that my answers are wrong.
Could you please help. Thanks.
I would be grateful if you would highlight my mistakes in the post.
Not natural means rarely used? You meant my versions not all of versions where Possessive Case is used, didn't you?
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
(1) The moderator has given you and me an excellent answer.
(2) By chance, do you have a copy of Mr. Michael Swan's
Practical English Usage? He spends many pages discussing
this matter. He is soooooo right when he comments:
"This is one of the most difficult areas of English grammar."
And he gives us all some good advice:
"Consult a good dictionary."
I might add: post a question here at usingenglish.com.
(3) I shall end my post with some advice from Mr. Raymond Murphy's
Grammar In Use:
With things we normally [usually] use ... of ...:
The door of the room (NOT: the room's door)
Sometimes you can use 's when the first thing is a noun:
The book's title/ the title of the book.
It is also possible to use 's with places:
The world's population.
We can also use 's with time words:
Tomorrow's meeting has been canceled.
(a) Mr. Murphy says that "the book's title" is OK.
So why isn't your "book's pages" OK, too?
Maybe a teacher will tell us why.
This is a really thorny topic and I wish I could find the CPE preparation book I used last summer because there was a nice, short advisory statement about when to use 's, of or just make it a noun phrase (instead of saying the door of the car we usually say the car door). The book was Objective Proficiency.
I'm having trouble finding information about the topic (most searches around possession yield results for spelling) but I found a couple good pages.
First, a confirmation that there are no rules from the Chicago Manual of Style.
To further show how fickle this issue can be, why do we have the Chicago Manual of Style, the Guardian Style Guide and the BBC Styleguide?
The next link gives what I think is good practical advice, again from Michael Swan. I don't want to steal the poster's thunder so I won't quote it all but here is the comment that strikes me as particularly useful:
The rule that Michael Swan gives in Practical English Usage is that "we cannot usually put a possessive before another determiner and a noun. We can say 'my friend', 'Ann's friend' or 'that friend', but not 'a my friend' or 'that Ann's friend'(1). Instead, we use a structure with 'of' + 'possessive'." "That policeman is a friend of mine."
Last edited by Mr_Ben; 13-Apr-2011 at 00:03.
Excuse my interfering with the topic but my post somehow concerns it.
A friend of mine is a tricky question for English learners, too. For me, at least. What does it mean? 'It is my friend but not a close one'? In what sense do you use it?
Murphy's book says that for things, ideas, etc. we normally use of:
the door of the garage, the name of the book, the owner of restaurant
But the most exciting thing is that they specifed a list of occassions where The Possesive case is used. Now, I am happy with the explanation.
I wish I had flipped through Murphy's book at first.
Thank you, however, for keeping up the conversation.
TheParser, I'm also referring to Murphy's "English Grammar In Use" book, 2nd edition, the blue one, but there is no example with The book's title/ the title of the book in it.But I guess there it is OK as soon as both versions are correct.
Offtopic: You wrote about consulting a good dictionary and I'm going to buy the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 8th edition. It's the best dictionary I have looked at so far (at least this is my impression after reading the brochure).
What desktop/on-line dictionaries do you use? What could you advice?