when should you avoid using 'of' as possessive? All I know is that it depends on humanness and animacy. When you are talking about things that are not live, you use 'of' but when you are talking bout 'person, animal, country, organization', you use apostrophe. However there are some exceptions. Now if you look at 'The movie's story', it's not a thing that's alive but many say it sounds natural more than 'the story of the movie'. I tried to figure out why but had no luck. Is it because it's just one of the exceptions? Is there any tip to avoid using 'of' as possessive? If I can figure out when to avoid using it, it would be really helpful.
Aug 29, 2018 4:05 PM
Answers · 3
You've identified the "grey area" in this grammatical area - real things which are not groups ('s is OK) and not abstract ('s is not OK). One rule you could follow (lightly) is to look for the usage of compound nouns in real sentences and use them if they exist and are common. For example, "window pane" is normal and "window's pane" is not. "plot of the movie", "movie plot" and "movie's plot" are all OK and common. Each movie is unique (as opposed to windows) and perhaps we think of a movie as something quasi-personal, and so able to possess things. But don't rely on this idea as a rule. This is worth reading (from ’s or of or either? There are some general rules about when to use ’s and when to use of but there are many cases where both are possible: The film’s hero or The hero of the film The car’s safety record or The safety record of the car The report’s conclusion or The conclusion of the report Sometimes when we first mention a noun, we use of, and later when we refer to it again, we use ’s: The mountains of Pakistan are mostly in the north. At least one hundred of them are above 7,000 metres … Most of Pakistan’s mountains are in the spectacular Karakoram range.
August 29, 2018
"The plot of the movie" and "the movie's plot" are both totally fine. 's on inanimate objects is unremarkable: "The painting's colors were deep and rich", "The car's tires were old and worn", "The table's legs were uneven, so it wobbled every time I leaned forward". You can also go to google and look at the number of search results for "the movie's plot" vs the number for "the plot of the movie" (be sure you include the quotes). That can be an interesting way to see how common different phrases are.
August 29, 2018
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