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Robert Zakiev
Possessive case with inanimate objects (Advanced English) Hello there, folks! As far as I understand, many writing guidelines frown upon using the possessive case with inanimate objects (e.g. company's employees -> employees of the company). I remember learning this rule when I was taking English classes a few years ago. However, I do encounter the usage of the possessive case with inanimate objects fairly frequently; even when I'm reading pieces written by some highly experienced writers. I was wondering if that rule is a thing of the past. Or perhaps it's a regional thing? It would be grand if native speakers from various Anglo-Saxon countries shed some light on the matter. Many thanks!
2016年10月25日 14:57
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Answers · 6
I would say that it's less of a rule than a preference. Sometimes I might say/write "company's employees," but I will more often say "company employees" -- use the inanimate object as an adjective (this is similar to "the employees of the company" but is better phrasing because it is more economical, efficient use of language). It partly depends on context. If I was writing an article or telling a story, I would say/wrote (for example), "The company's employees were underpaid and then illegally fired when they complained." But within a company, if I was giving a rule or writing a contract, I would say/write, "Company employees must report to work no later than 8:00 in the morning."
2016年10月25日
I have never heard this rule before. That said, I probably do not use possessive case with objects very much.
2016年10月25日
I'd also never heard this rule - but as it's possible my school's teachings were incomplete, I did a quick check. The Chicago Manual of Style's FAQ more or less calls the idea ridiculous (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/PossessivesandAttributives.html?page=2). So, go ahead and let your writing's possessives use "'s" as is nature's intent.
2016年10月25日
"As far as I understand, many writing guidelines frown upon using the possessive case with inanimate objects.." This is not true at all! Using the apostrophe+s genitive is not substandard English, and it is not regional, either. Nobody's frowning upon anything. Please be assured that it is correct, standard and extremely common to use this form for a wide range of inanimate nouns. This is especially the case with geographical terms (countries, regions, cities), organisations (such as companies, committees, teams) and time nouns (seasons, months, days of the week). NB There's no such thing as an Anglo-Saxon country!
2016年10月25日
I would not waste even a moment of extra time worrying about this, Robert. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, for example, "A company's employees are its most important asset."
2016年10月25日
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Robert Zakiev
Language Skills
English, French, Russian
Learning Language
English, French