Possessive ‘s / Saxon Genitive

Today’s blog is going to deal with how we express possession in English. We are going to focus on one structure; Possessive ‘s or Saxon Genitive.

To start with, let’s see some examples:

  • I like Mary’s jacket.
  • John’s new car is very fast.
  • My father’s dog is very big.

As you can see we use ā€œ’sā€ after a noun or a name to show that an object belongs to someone. So, the jacket belongs to Mary, the car belongs to John and the dog belongs to my father.

When we have a noun with a final -s (because it is plural, or not), we may only add the apostrophe (‘).

  • My friends’ house is very near.
  • Charles’ sister is coming to the party.

If you try to translate these sentences into Spanish or Catalan, you will see that we use a completely different structure:

  • English: possessor + ‘s + object
  • Spanish or Catalan: object + de + possessor

If we used these sentences following the structure in our language, we would be making a mistake:

  • I like the jacket of Mary. (No!!!!!!)
  • The new car of John is very fast. (No!!!!!!)
  • The dog of my father is very big. (No!!!!!!)

However, in English, we sometimes use the structure of + object. Check these

  • The end of the street is very crowded.
  • The employees of the new supermarket are doing training week.
  • The leg of the table is broken.

In these cases, we can use of + object, because we are talking about a part of a thing, so the relation is not that of possession.

Did you notice that the name my blog contains an example of the possessive ‘s?


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