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..." ?
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."
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.
Er, I beg to differ. It is not incorrect at all. Either are possible and both are correct.
"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.