Formation of the Possessive Case
(1) When the noun is Singular, the Possessive Case is formed by adding ‘s to the noun; as,
- The boy's book; the king's crown.
Note: The letter s is omitted in a few words where too many hissing sounds would come together; as,
- For conscience' sake; for goodness' sake;
- For justice' sake; for Jesus' sake; Moses' laws.
(2) When the noun is plural and ends in s, the Possessive Case is formed by adding only an apostrophe; as,
- Boys' school; girls' school; horses' tails.
(3) When the noun is Plural but does not end in s, the Possessive sign is formed by adding 's as,
- Men's club; children's books.
(4) When a noun or a title consists of several words, the Possessive sign is attached only to the last word; as,
- The King of Bhutan's visit.
- The Prime Minister of Mauritius's speech.
(5) When two nouns are in apposition, the possessive sign is put to the latter only; as,
- That is Tagore the poet's house.
(6) Also when two nouns are closely connected, the possessive is put to the latter; as,
- Karim and Salim's bakery.
- William and Mary's reign.
(7) Each of two or more connected nouns implying separate possession must take the possessive sign; as,
- Raja Rao's and R.K. Narayan's novels.
- Goldsmith's and Cowper's poems.
To Read Noun Part-I, Click Here: Noun (Part I)
Use of the Possessive Case
The Possessive Case is now used chiefly with the names of living thing; as,
- The Governor’s bodyguard; the lion’s mane.
So we must say:
- The leg of the table [not, the table's leg].
- The cover of the book [not, the book's cover].
- The roof of the house [not, the house's roof).
NOTE: The Possessive is also used with nouns denoting time, space or weight; as,
- A day's march; a week's holiday; in a year's time; a stone's throw; a foot's length; a pound's weight.
The following phrases are also in common use:-
- At his fingers' ends; for mercy's sake; to his heart's content; at his wit's end; a boat's crew.
The possessive of a proper name or of a noun denoting a trade, profession, or relationship may be used to denote a building or place of business (church, house, school, college, shop, hospital, the theatre; etc.) as,
- She has gone to the baker's (baker's shop).
- Tonight I am dining at my uncle's (uncle's house).
- Can you tell me the way to St .Paul's (St. Paul's church)?
- I attend the Town High School but my cousin attends St. Xavier's.
- He was educated at St. Joseph's.
When you are in doubt whether to use a noun in the possessive case or with the preposition of, remember that, as a general rule, the possessive case is used to denote possession or ownership. Thus it is better to say 'the defeat of the enemy' than 'the enemy's defeat', even though no doubt as to the meaning would arise.
Sometimes, however, a noun in the possessive case has a different meaning from a noun used with the preposition of; as,
- ‘The Prime Minister's reception in Delhi’ means a reception held by the Prime Minister in Delhi.
- ‘The reception of the Prime Minister in Delhi’ means the manner in which the people welcomed him when he entered Delhi.
- The phrase 'the love of a father' may mean either 'a father's love of his child' or 'a child's love of his father'.
Nouns in Apposition
Read the following sentence:-
Rama, our captain, made fifty runs.
We see that Rama and our captain is one and the same person. The noun captain follows the noun Rama simply to explain which Rama is referred to.
When one noun follows another to describe it, the noun which follows is said to be in apposition to the noun which comes before it.
[Apposition means placing near.]
A noun in apposition is in the same case as the noun which it explains.
In the above sentence, the noun captain is in apposition to the noun Rama and is in the Nominative Case (because Rama is in the Nominative Case.)
- Kabir, the great reformer, was a weaver.
- Yesterday I met your uncle, the doctor.
- Have you seen Ganguli, the artist's drawings?
In sentence 1, the noun in apposition is in the Nominative Case.
In sentence 2, the noun in apposition is in the Accusative Case. [Why?]
In sentence 3, the noun in apposition is in the Genitive Case. [Why?]
Things to remember:
Except for the possessive forms (usually formed by the addition of an apostrophe and the letter s), nouns do not change form in English. The chart below illustrates the different forms among the cases.
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