Lesson 49: GENITIVE

We sometimes need to describe a noun by using another noun with it. We use this other noun:

  • with the -s ending ('s for singular, s' for plural);
  • with of before it;
  • as an adjective (Lesson 64).

-S ending

We usually use this:

For PEOPLE:

Maria's father (the father of Maria)

Ahmed's homework (homework which Ahmed must do)

I went to Bill's (the place where Bill lives)

this student's ability (ability which this student has)

a girls' school (a school for girls)

a children's playground (a place where children can play)

an old people's home (a place where old people live)

NOTICE: Plurals without s use 's (NOT s').

For NOUNS OF TIME:

today's program
three weeks' holiday
a few minutes' rest

NOTICE: The noun with the -s ending goes before the noun it describes.


Of

We use this with most other nouns. For example:

the corners of the room (NOT the room's corners)

the history of Canada

the capital of Alberta

NOTICE: The noun with of goes after the noun it describes.


Adjective

We usually use this when we are talking about a type of something.

car doors (NOT car's doors)

plane ticket (NOT plane's ticket or ticket of a plane)

English lessons (NOT English's lessons)

music school (NOT music's school)

hotel room (NOT hotel's room)

NOTICE:
a teacup = a cup you can use for tea
a cup of tea = a cup with tea in it
a shopping bag = a bag you can use for shopping
a bag of shopping = a bag with shopping in it


-s ending and of

Normally we say Maria's cousin or John's book or my father's friends, especially if we have already mentioned the cousin or the book or the friends. But if we want to be more indefinite, and especially if we are mentioning them for the first time, we say:

a cousin of Maria's
a book of John's
some friends of my father's

We can also use personal pronouns (Lesson 50) this way:
an uncle of mine (I am not telling you which one.)

BUT the second noun must describe a person. We say:
a corner of the room (NOT a corner of the room's)
And we must know which person. We say:
a student's book (NOT a book of a student's)


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