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Dear teachers,

Would you please have a look at my exercise? Would you have MORE sentences for me to do?

Rewrite these sentences using a genitive whenever it is possible and making the necessary changes.

1) The goal of Bill Clinton is to make a distinction between legal and illegal immigration.

Bill Clinton'S goal is to make a distinction between legal and illegal immigration.

2) The short-term costs of immigration are very high. NO CHANGE (?)

3) The figures published last year show an increase in the number of Asian immigrants. NO CHANGE ?

4) Romeo and Juliet forfeit their lives partly as a result of the hatred and the prejudice of their parents. (is this sentence correct ?)

Romeo and Juliet forfeit their lives partly as a result of their parentS' hatred and prejudice.

5) The leader of the students was an excellent speaker. NO CHANGE

Thanks a lot,
Hela
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Comments  
Hi Hela,

I'd say that in these cases you can use either, and it becomes a question of formality and style.

Do you have a different understanding?

Best wishes, Clive
HelaDear teachers,

Would you please have a look at my exercise? Would you have MORE sentences for me to do?

Rewrite these sentences using a genitive whenever it is possible and making the necessary changes.

1) The goal of Bill Clinton is to make a distinction between legal and illegal immigration.

Bill Clinton'S goal is to make a distinction between legal and illegal immigration.

2) The short-term costs of immigration are very high. NO CHANGE (?)

3) The figures published last year show an increase in the number of Asian immigrants. NO CHANGE ?

4) Romeo and Juliet forfeit their lives partly as a result of the hatred and the prejudice of their parents. (is this sentence correct ?)

Romeo and Juliet forfeit their lives partly as a result of their parentS' hatred and prejudice.

5) The leader of the students was an excellent speaker. NO CHANGE

Thanks a lot,
Hela

1) is good.

I agree that 2) and 5) would sound odd in the genitive form.

In 3), "last year's figures" is OK.

4) is good
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I'd agree with Clive: they're all possible.

2) Immigration's short-term costs are very high.

– this sounds ok to me. I can imagine an MP saying it, in an interview; or you might find it in an article.

5) The students' leader was an excellent speaker.

– this too. "The students' leader" googles up some similar examples.

MrP
So you think that all five sentences can take the possessive case? Even #3 ?

3) The figures published last year show an increase in the number of Asian immigrants. =

Last year's figures show an increase in Asian immigrants' numbers. possible ?

Now we said that time expressions normally take the possessive case but that's not always true:

"Last year'S figures are..." is correct but NOT "The day'S time is 7:00."
How do you explain that please?

By the way is there a difference between "possessive case" and "genitive case"?

See you! Emotion: smile
Hello Hela

Sorry, I missed that!

You might possibly hear a phrase such as "Asian immigrants' numbers" in terse journalistic reporting; but on the whole, "the number of" isn't "genitivised" in this way.

I'm not quite sure why this is, or why phrases such as "the day's time" aren't used (except sometimes in poetry). I'll have to think about it!

As for the "genitive", this usually describes an inflected form of a noun; but the "possessive" can also be used for "of" forms (e.g. "strength of mind", etc.).

See you later,

MrP
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Dear MrP and all the other teachers,

1) So what we call "the genitive case" is the apostrophe s and the relative whose, and the "possessive case" is any expression with of to express possession? Would you please give me sentences where we CANNOT use the 's but rather the of form?

2) Would you please tell me more about factors concerning abstract nouns and give me examples of temporal, locative, human activity (and others perhaps) genitives?

3) What about : "Treasure Island’s author, Robert Louis Stevenson, was a Scotsman born in Edinburgh in 1850."

In which category would you put "titles of books"? Proper noun = concrete noun?

4) Are these wrong ?
The leach of the dog. / The car's door is open.

5) Would you please give me a sentence where a possessive is added to the names of planets: Earth's, Saturn's, Pluto's .....

6) How do you explain this use : The blue bike is my cousin's.

7) And why do we say:
a) The Song of Solomon and the Gospel of John are two of the most beautiful books of the Bible.
b) The computer's hard drive is broken.

Kind regards, Hela
Dear teachers,

In addition to my questions above, would you please tell me why we cannot use the possessive case in the following sentence?

The success of personal computing is the accomplishment of Bill Gates. (and not Bill Gates’(s) accomplishement?)

Thanks a lot,

Hela

Hello Hela

1) So what we call "the genitive case" is the apostrophe s and the relative whose, and the "possessive case" is any expression with of to express possession? Would you please give me sentences where we CANNOT use the 's but rather the of form?

— I would use "genitive" to describe the possessive case where there is a change of form (horses', Bill's, Moses', whose, etc.), and "of-possessive" where "of" denotes possession. But other members may disagree.

You could once use the genitive with any kind of noun; but outside poetry or poetic prose, it's now mostly used with living things (Bill's book); personifications (Beauty's tears); nouns denoting time, space, or sometimes weight (a hand's breadth, a day's wait); symbolic or representative objects (the court's favour, my country's call); objects that produce an independent effect (the moon's influence, the sun's rays); and in certain set phrases (the mind's eye, for goodness' sake).

I would say that there are few instances where the genitive isn't possible (set phrases, perhaps: "The House of Lords"; not "The Lords' House"); but that there are many instances where you'd be unlikely to use it. For instance:

a) He stood at the foot of the bed. ] Here, "...the bed's foot" would be comprehensible, but might seem "mannered".

b) I walked through the valley of the shadow of death. ] "I walked through death's shadow's valley" might be found in bad 6th-form poetry, but nowhere else.

c) It's in the boot of my car. ] "It's in my car's boot" would seem strange; you would be more likely to use "car" attributively, i.e. "my car boot".

2) Would you please tell me more about factors concerning abstract nouns and give me examples of temporal, locative, human activity (and others perhaps) genitives?

a) I took six weeks' holiday. I had a day's grace.

b) It was only a stone's throw away. I feel as if I'm walking on a razor's edge.

c) I'm not quite sure what "human activity" includes: perhaps "duty's call"?

3) What about : "Treasure Island’s author, Robert Louis Stevenson, was a Scotsman born in Edinburgh in 1850."

In which category would you put "titles of books"? Proper noun = concrete noun?

— Somewhere between a person and a personification, maybe! But no; probably a proper noun.

4) Are these wrong ?
a) The leash of the dog. ] Not necessarily. You might use it for emphasis: "I said give me the leash of the dog, not the leash of the cat!" (It's a strange household.)

b) The car's door is open.] Cars, ships, planes, trains seem to have some rights to the genitive. I suppose it's because they appear to exert independent influence.

5) Would you please give me a sentence where a possessive is added to the names of planets: Earth's, Saturn's, Pluto's .....

— Saturn's rings are visible through a good telescope. Pluto's orbit takes it inside the orbit of Neptune.

6) How do you explain this use : The blue bike is my cousin's.

— Cf. "The blue bike is mine." Here "mine" is a possessive pronoun: it stands for "something that belongs to me". "My cousin's" has the same role in your sentence: it stands for "something that belongs to my cousin".

7) And why do we say:
a) The Song of Solomon and the Gospel of John are two of the most beautiful books of the Bible.
b) The computer's hard drive is broken.


a) You can also say Solomon's Song and St John's Gospel; but the of-possessive tends to predominate in contexts that require dignity or formality (for instance, Queen Elizabeth II's official title is "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith").

b) I would take the computer as an object that produces an independent effect.

MrP
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