Home « Forum « Author Hangout

Forum: Author Hangout

Possessive apostrophe with time spans

Crumbly Writer

I seem to remember a discussion where someone said that possessive apostrophes are not used with time references, but when I went back to check, each reference I found specifically states that the correct form is "in a few day's/year's" time (with the apostrophe before the s). It also stated that, in most cases, you only use the apostrophe when there is an assumed "of" in the sentence (ex: "in a few days of time").

So what's the official deal. Do you use possessive apostrophes with time or not?

awnlee_jawking

@Crumbly Writer

each reference I found specifically states that the correct form is "in a few day's/year's" time (with the apostrophe before the s). It also stated that, in most cases, you only use the apostrophe when there is an assumed "of" in the sentence (ex: "in a few days of time").


What's the contraction of "a few days of time"? "A few days' time". All your references are wrong when they claim the possessive of a plural ending in 's' is formed by putting the apostrophe in front of the 's'.

I'll let Ross answer the question. The source he quoted last time sounded quite reasonable.

AJ

awnlee jawking
Updated:

@awnlee_jawking

Alternatively, Ross's quote from New Hart's Guide:


An apostrophe is used in a similar way when the length of a period of
time is specified:
~ a few days' holiday
~ three weeks' time
but notice that an apostrophe is not used in adjectival constructions such as three months pregnant.


AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Do you use possessive apostrophes with time or not?


The first question to ask is, Can a day own time?

If not, then you can't use an apostrophe to indicate possession.

Personally, I can't see a day owning time. So, no apostrophe unless you are using it to indicate a contraction.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

This is what CMOS 5.19 says.
The genitive case denotes
(1) ownership, possession, or occupancy [the architect's drawing board, Arnie's room];
(2) a relationship [the philanthropist's secretary];
(3) agency [the company's representative];
(4) description [a summer's day];
(5) the role of a subject [the boy's application (the boy applied)];
(6) the role of an object [the prisoner's release (someone released the prisoner)]; or
(7) an idiomatic shorthand form of an of-phrase (e.g., one hour's delay is equal to a delay of one hour).

That does not answer the question of whether the apostrophe goes before or after the 's'.
New Harts Rules suggests after - but that is BrE.
Frankly, I was astonished when I saw it placed the apostrophes after.

I'm not going to start researching this at 4 AM local time. I'll post a considered tomorrow.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee_jawking

What's the contraction of "a few days of time"? "A few days' time". All your references are wrong when they claim the possessive of a plural ending in 's' is formed by putting the apostrophe in front of the 's'.

I'll let Ross answer the question. The source he quoted last time sounded quite reasonable.

But alas, that is contradicted by my sources, who insist that "a few day's time" is correct, because it stand in for "a few day OF time" and thus you specify "day's time". (The source is an English for foreigner's website, explaining WHEN to use punctuation when discussing time.)

Replies:   awnlee_jawking
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Alternatively, Ross's quote from New Hart's Guide:

An apostrophe is used in a similar way when the length of a period of
time is specified:
~ a few days' holiday
~ three weeks' time
but notice that an apostrophe is not used in adjectival constructions such as three months pregnant.

Meaning, you WOULD use the apostrophe for "a few days" (in whichever form) but WOULDN'T when using it as a qualifier. THAT answers my question, which means the only question remaining is whether the "'" goes before or after the "s", and they specifically state the ONLY TIME you use apostrophe's when specifying time is when it replaces "OF".

As usual, trying to confirm something I thought I already understood just raises more questions!

Replies:   robberhands
Crumbly Writer

@REP

The first question to ask is, Can a day own time?

If not, then you can't use an apostrophe to indicate possession.

Personally, I can't see a day owning time. So, no apostrophe unless you are using it to indicate a contraction.

My source indicates it IS a contraction, but an unusual one, contracting "days of time" into "day's time". Thus you're NOT using a possessive with time, instead you're using the apostrophe to remove the "of". (Confusing, I know.)

Replies:   REP
awnlee_jawking

@Crumbly Writer

a few day OF time


Oh dear. I wonder what their first language is :(

AJ

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

After some research I trashed my initial post because I came to the conclusion that the English use of the possessive apostrophe 's' is a convoluted mess.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Thus you're NOT using a possessive with time, instead you're using the apostrophe to remove the "of". (Confusing, I know.)


I agree. As I indicated in my post, I do not believe the apostrophe is inserted to indicate possession. I believe it is being used to indicate the omission of the word 'of'.

However, the title of the thread is about a 'Possessive Apostrophe' and almost all of the posts are addressing the use of the apostrophe to indicate possession.

I don't know the rules for the use of an apostrophe to create a contraction, but it seems logical to place the apostrophe where the omitted characters would have been located. If that is true, then it should be days', instead of day's.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

The best way I can answer this is to give a couple of examples of similar things, but the use of the possessive with time can provide a slightly different emphasis on what you're saying, so you need to be clear on what you want to say when you word the sentences using them.

Fred said, "We'll deal with that in next week's meeting."

This makes it clear the matter will be dealt with in the meeting being held next week, while it also implies the meeting is a regular one.

Fred said, "We'll deal with that in the meeting next week."

This also makes it clear the matter will be dealt with in the meeting being held next week, but it leaves open the question of the meeting being a one of meeting or a regular occurrence. I'd tend to use this wording for a meeting called for a special purpose.

However, for this question, the use of the possessive with time is allowed where there's a close ownership. Other examples would be:

That'll be covered in tomorrow's class.

He thought he'd get there in two day's time.

edit to add - as others have said, in the second example the word 'of' can be used instead, but it also sounds more cumbersome. The other aspect to keep in mind is if the text is narrative or dialogue. In the last example as narrative I'd write it as:

He thought he'd get there in two days.

While I'd use 'two day's time' in dialogue.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Prepare to have your gob smacked ;)

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=a+few+days+time+apostrophe

The only time it's valid to place the apostrophe before the 's' is when it's a single unit eg "a day's time".

AJ

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


someone said that possessive apostrophes are not used with time references


They are. Grammar Girl says at http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/possessives:


Well, there IS a possessive in expressions like "two weeks' notice" or "a year's pay."


I haven't finished the blog yet, but it's interesting. She says it all started with:


that happened in the 1700s. That's when the grammarian Robert Lowth decided to rename the grammatical cases in English


There's too much to copy and paste here, but I'll leave with this quote from the article which explains where the confusion stems from:


The nearest Latin case to what we call the possessive was called the genitive. But in 1763, in his Introduction to English Grammar, Robert Lowth introduced the term "objective" for use instead of "accusative," and explicitly endorsed the word "possessive" instead of "genitive."

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage, other 18th-century grammarians followed his lead. On the one hand, this was a good change, since it's easy to remember that objects go in the objective case. Calling the genitive case the possessive showed the connection between case forms such as "my" and "our" and the idea that they could show possession.

Possessives Do More Than Just Show Possession

Unfortunately, this last name change had a side effect. The genitive case in Latin had several functions, only one of which was to show possession. Similarly, the genitive or possessive case in English has several functions, only one of which is to show possession. But the clear relationship between the adjective "possessive" and the verb "possess" led various grammarians over the years to believe that any noun in the possessive case must refer to something capable of possessing. As the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage puts it:

The argument is a case of fooling oneself with one's own terminology. After the 18th-century grammarians began to refer to the genitive case as the possessive case, grammarians and other commentators got it into their heads that the only use of the case was to show possession. ...

Simply changing the name of the genitive does not change or eliminate any of its multiple functions.

red61544

@Crumbly Writer

Crumbly, I'm curious. Which references did you use. The ones I checked a few days ago said differently! If you use that apostrophe, you are simply eliminating the words "of". The apostrophe is with the word "days" so "...in a few of days time" makes no sense at all.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

GOTCHA! You little rascal!

CMOS agrees with New Harts Rules - the apostrophe is placed before or after the 's' in the same way as for possessives.
CMOS 7.24 states:

Analogous to possessives, and formed like them, are certain expressions based on the old genitive case. The genitive here implies 'of'.
in three days' time
an hour's delay (or a one-hour delay)
six months' leave of absence (or a six-month leave of absence)

Switch Blayde

The following is also from the blog. It has nothing to do with the question, but it does with possessives.

Sometimes the idea that inanimate nouns don't have possessive forms shows up in a more specific claim: That the relative pronoun "whose" cannot refer to an inanimate noun. This is the idea that a phrase such as "the car whose windshield got cracked by a piece of gravel" should actually be phrased "the car of which the windshield got cracked by a piece of gravel." As I wrote in episode 108, "'whose' is the only English word we have to refer to inanimate antecedents. Perhaps someone will invent a new word for this purpose, but as of now we're stuck with 'whose.' "

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

After some research I trashed my initial post because I came to the conclusion that the English use of the possessive apostrophe 's' is a convoluted mess.

Not really. Since "day's" ISN'T possessive, merely a contraction, it REINFORCES that you DON'T apply possessives with dates. Now that I know how everything applies, it's all consistent.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

However, the title of the thread is about a 'Possessive Apostrophe' and almost all of the posts are addressing the use of the apostrophe to indicate possession.

That's because, when I first posted the question, I couldn't understand why I was getting contradictory information from different sights. After examining the information and getting feedback, I now see that everything confirms the guidelines I've been following. Thus my 'confusion' has lifted.

I don't know the rules for the use of an apostrophe to create a contraction, but it seems logical to place the apostrophe where the omitted characters would have been located. If that is true, then it should be days', instead of day's.

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing it's to avoid confusion by listing it as "days'" (where you wouldn't know whether it's the correct for of possessive or a contraction).

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Not really. Since "day's" ISN'T possessive, merely a contraction, it REINFORCES that you DON'T apply possessives with dates.


"Day's" is not a contraction. It's a possessive. Read Grammar Girl's article.

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP
Crumbly Writer

@red61544

Crumbly, I'm curious. Which references did you use. The ones I checked a few days ago said differently! If you use that apostrophe, you are simply eliminating the words "of". The apostrophe is with the word "days" so "...in a few of days time" makes no sense at all.

The reference is for GrammarMonster. Check towards the bottom, where it says "Beware:" (though it also says, it using the "of" doesn't make sense, don't use the apostrophe).

The question is "two day's time" possessive or not. "Two days" in regards to time is a duration, NOT a possessive. Since it's a time reference, you DO NOT use the possessive form (from what I understand from everything that's been said so far).

But it looks like we can argue about that distinction, as it's not so black and white.

Ahh, Ross arrived at the same distinction, which uses the exact case of "xx day's time" (again, it's not "days'" because it's NOT a possessive). The time isn't the possession of two days, it's simply a contraction, where there's some confusion over whether the placement of the ampersand might cause confusion.

Replies:   Ross at Play  BlacKnight
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Perhaps someone will invent a new word for this purpose, but as of now we're stuck with 'whose.' "

Who's whose are those whose?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

"Day's" is not a contraction. It's a possessive.

It is not a real possessive, but it looks exactly like one.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Who's whose are those whose?


They belong to owl number 3 in the big barn.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

It is not a real possessive, but it looks exactly like one.

I suspect that's why they chose "day's" instead of "days'", so it wouldn't be as likely to be confused, but I think I'll have to include a footnote, explaining it's a contraction and NOT a possessive, if I use it in a story. I suspect Ernest's solution is the best, simply find another way of saying the same thing.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

They belong to owl number 3 in the big barn.

Whose barn owl in whose barn? Is it Who's barn owl? Is the barn owl's name "Who" (after all, that's what all the other owls call him)? In that case, it would be "Whose barn owl is whose? Why it's Who's, that's whose!"

Damn, I should quit writing novels and switch to Children's stories. It certainly pays better and takes a LOT less time and effort!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Ahh, Ross arrived at the same distinction, which uses the exact case of "xx day's time"

I've changed my opinion during this exchange.
My gut instinct was for "a few day's time".
I was not prepared to accept the quote from New Harts Rules which states it should be "a few days' time". I thought that was some weird British thing.
But CMOS says the same and it explicitly explained they look like genitives even though they are a contraction of 'of'.
I am now happy to use "a few days' time".

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Sometimes the idea that inanimate nouns don't have possessive forms shows up in a more specific claim: That the relative pronoun "whose" cannot refer to an inanimate noun. This is the idea that a phrase such as "the car whose windshield got cracked by a piece of gravel" should actually be phrased "the car of which the windshield got cracked by a piece of gravel." As I wrote in episode 108, "'whose' is the only English word we have to refer to inanimate antecedents. Perhaps someone will invent a new word for this purpose, but as of now we're stuck with 'whose.' "

CMOS has an opinion on that - That is how it is. Deal with it.
5.61 states:

The relatives 'who' and 'which' can both take 'whose' as a possessive form ('whose' substitutes for 'of which') [For example, a movie the conclusion of which is unforgettable -or- a movie whose conclusion is unforgettable].
Some writers object to using 'whose' as a replacement for 'of which', especially when the subject is not human, but the usage is centuries old and widely accepted as preventing unnecessary awkwardness.
Compare, the company whose stock rose faster -with- the company the stock of which rose faster. Either form is acceptable, but the possessive 'whose' lends greater smoothness.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Switch Blayde

"Day's" is not a contraction. It's a possessive. Read Grammar Girl's article.


I read the article. It ran me around in circles about how people changed things. But I never saw anything about why 'days' in the phrase "...in a few days of time" is possessive. In that phrase, 'Days' is being used to modify time by indicating a duration of time. It has nothing to do with the possessive case.

What I would do, right or wrong, is create a contraction by just dropping 'of' without adding an apostrophe. If I were going to add the apostrophe, I would put it after the 's', because that is where the missing characters where; but, I wouldn't do that as it creates confusion. Confusion like what we are seeing in this thread with everyone assuming the presence of an apostrophe means the possessive case.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

simply find another way of saying the same thing.


Simple, don't drop 'of'.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@REP

I read the article. It ran me around in circles about how people changed things. But I never saw anything about why 'days' in the phrase "...in a few days of time" is possessive. In that phrase, 'Days' is being used to modify time by indicating a duration of time. It has nothing to do with the possessive case.

It doesn't matter what it is, or what it is called, every reference mentioned in this thread says use:
one day's leave
two days' leave

They all say treat them exactly as you do with possessives.

BlacKnight
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

It's "a few days' time", or "one day's time".

There are two parts to my conclusion here. The first part has nothing to do with case; it's just a question of number. "A few day's" is always wrong. "Day's" is singular, and "a few" indicates plural. You would (or at least should) never say, "a few day", because there's an obvious number mismatch. Changing the case doesn't change that.

Similarly, "one days'" is always wrong. "days'" is plural, and "one" indicates a singular. You wouldn't say "one days", so you shouldn't say "one days'", either.

The second part of it is: I wasn't sure at first whether "in a few days['] time" was using a genitive plural or a dative plural, because they sound the same in speech. So I considered the singular case. I would never say "in one day time", and by the above logic "one days" and "one days'" are always wrong, so it must be the genitive singular, "in one day's time". So the plural must also be using the genitive, "in a few days' time".

Also, fun facts: The apostrophe in the genitive actually does indicate a contraction. In the most common noun declensions in Old English, the genitive was formed by appending "-es" to the noun root. In the course of its evolution through Middle English to Modern English, the 'e' was elided, and the apostrophe in the Modern English genitive marks the elided 'e'.

The time isn't the possession of two days, it's simply a contraction, where there's some confusion over whether the placement of the ampersand might cause confusion.


What do you believe an ampersand to be?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I've changed my opinion during this exchange.
My gut instinct was for "a few day's time".
I was not prepared to accept the quote from New Harts Rules which states it should be "a few days' time". I thought that was some weird British thing.
But CMOS says the same and it explicitly explained they look like genitives even though they are a contraction of 'of'.
I am now happy to use "a few days' time".

Sigh! OK. I'll concede too, as the almost universal agreement is that it should be "days'", whatever the reason. Also, my source gave NO explicit reason WHY they chose "day's", which makes their decision questionable, at best. (Though I still think I'll need to post a footnote with the story explaining the contraction usage instead of the possessive!)

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Sorry, Ross, but you aren't likely to find many people married to the CMoS's guidelines, since few of us publish with any specific publishing house's requiring their adherence.

Instead, most of us are 'independent publishers', or we've NEVER published anything, meaning we pick and chose our own personal Style Guides, based largely on what's the most used, frequently cited and makes the most sense. CMoS might fit that definition sometimes, but hardly ALL the time.

Generally, we need a better justification than "CMoS says".

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Simple, don't drop 'of'.

'Cept "two days of time" sounds STUPID!!!

But I agree with both you and REP, "days' time" is a duration of time having nothing to do with a possessive case. Unless I see an explicit reference to a day "owning" a length of time, I'll stick to the contraction theory.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@BlacKnight

It's "a few days' time", or "one day's time".

There are two parts to my conclusion here. The first part has nothing to do with case; it's just a question of number. "A few day's" is always wrong. "Day's" is singular, and "a few" indicates plural. You would (or at least should) never say, "a few day", because there's an obvious number mismatch. Changing the case doesn't change that.

I already stated that I changed my mind (again). I now agree with "two days' time", and even "one day of time" makes sense, so the contraction theory holds up in either case.

What do you believe an ampersand to be?

Go back over the thread. We've already covered this repeatedly, with a few references to back it up. Since "xx days' time" is a duration, there is NOTHING to possess, so there's NO reason to believe it's a possessive, while the contraction makes perfect sense and explains ever case of it's use.

Replies:   BlacKnight
BlacKnight

@Crumbly Writer

I already stated that I changed my mind (again). I now agree with "two days' time", and even "one day of time" makes sense, so the contraction theory holds up in either case.

It is not a contraction of "days of". It is simply a place where the genitive case is used. As Switch Blayde cites up above, while the genitive is commonly called the "possessive" these days, indicating possession is not all that it does.

Go back over the thread. We've already covered this repeatedly, with a few references to back it up. Since "xx days' time" is a duration, there is NOTHING to possess, so there's NO reason to believe it's a possessive, while the contraction makes perfect sense and explains ever case of it's use.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the question I asked you.

Again, what do you believe an ampersand to be?

SPOILER: It's this symbol: &

It's a stylized et (Latin "and"). It means "and". Nothing in this thread has anything to do with ampersands, except that you suddenly started talking about them confusing people.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  REP
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@BlacKnight

It is not a contraction of "days of". It is simply a place where the genitive case is used. As Switch Blayde cites up above, while the genitive is commonly called the "possessive" these days, indicating possession is not all that it does.

I understand Switch's point, but he never detailed WHY "two days' time" IS a possessive and NOT a duration of time. He only stated that the transition from Latin to English caused some confusion in the terms. Until I see some reference to the possessive form INCLUDING durations of time, I'll stick to the more logical explanation that it's a contraction of "days of time".

I'm NOT arguing that the case exists, only that no one here has ever SEEN an explanation for WHY it would be a possessive form. (Switch said he never made it through the entire article, since it was unduly long.)

In either case, we ALL agree on the proper form, now we're just arguing semantics out of spite. In which case, there's really nothing left to discuss. Unless, of course, someone has a few puns left over. 'D

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Generally, we need a better justification than "CMoS says".

I don't feel the need to justify or prove anything!
I say what reference I am quoting from - others can make up their own minds what to make of the information.
If you don't like the references people quote - DON'T WHINGE - find another reference and quote that!

If this post sounded like "CMOS proves it", that was because Grammar Girl and New Harts Rules had already been quoted saying the same thing. We're never going to get more conclusion "proof" around here than all of those saying the same thing. And this issue was still causing confusion because it is treated in the same way as possessives although it is not really one.

For questions of grammar, where there usually is one answer, I think it is very good, and sometimes its explanations are good.
But for authors, I only ever think of the rules of grammar rules as a starting point, after which they might choose to disregard them for any number of reasons.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

that no one here has ever SEEN an explanation for WHY it would be a possessive form.

I've SEEN a perfectly adequate explanation.
It's "idiomatic", meaning there is no explanation.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I don't feel the need to justify or prove anything!
I say what reference I am quoting from - others can make up their own minds what to make of the information.
If you don't like the references people quote - DON'T WHINGE - find another reference and quote that!

If this post sounded like "CMOS proves it", that was because Grammar Girl and New Harts Rules had already been quoted saying the same thing.

In that case, you should have said: "CMoS also says the same thing". Instead you simply listed what CMoS said on the matter, as if that defined the entire argument.

A few people have commented that you seem to have a CMOS addiction, as it's typically your FIRST reference to check. My argument, is that few of us here care, one way or another, what the frig CMOS says. We want to hear the logic behind it, rather than a dictum from on high. None of use has been terribly inspired by CMOS's position, since we each despise their advice in multiple instances. We'll accept CMOS as an additional reference, but otherwise, it's inclusion adds little to the argument.

But as I said, we've ALL settled this case a LONG time ago. The only argument remaining is whether "two day's time" is possessive or a contraction, and frankly, the answer doesn't change a thing, as we'll STILL use the same wording.

But I apologize, I said I was quitting the thread and I mistakenly clicked the first 'unread' thread I saw, forgetting to mark it as "Done!" I won't make that mistake a second time. We're all arguing for no purpose other than to snipe at each other over definitions at this point.

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP

@BlacKnight

while the genitive is commonly called the "possessive" these days, indicating possession is not all that it does.


To me, possessive case only indicates possession or ownership. So, perhaps you should explain what else the genitive case does besides indicating possession.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Damn, I should quit writing novels and switch to Children's stories. It certainly pays better and takes a LOT less time and effort!


You could go into religious texts, but then you have to be careful to write the right rite for Mr Wright who publishes them.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

In that case, you should have said: "CMoS also says the same thing". Instead you simply listed what CMoS said on the matter, as if that defined the entire argument.

I just saw which post you objected to originally.

You missed the joke.

We all hate CMOS because it is often dictatorial.
SB made a comment out of nowhere bemoaning that 'whose' applies to both humans and inanimate objects.
I spotted a comment in CMOS responding directly to that point while looking for something else.
I quoted their comment as it may have interested him, well perhaps a curiosity.
The comment I added was sarcasm. I did not think anyone could miss I was suggesting they were being extremely dictatorial this time, when the only words I wrote were:

CMOS has an opinion on that - That is how it is. Deal with it.
5.61 states:

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


But I never saw anything about why 'days' in the phrase "...in a few days of time" is possessive.


Unfortunately, this last name change had a side effect. The genitive case in Latin had several functions, only one of which was to show possession


and

But the clear relationship between the adjective "possessive" and the verb "possess" led various grammarians over the years to believe that any noun in the possessive case must refer to something capable of possessing.


were the keys to me.

"Days" can't possess. But "Possessives Do More Than Just Show Possession." "A few days' time" is one of the other functions of genitive (which is now called possessive).

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


To me, possessive case only indicates possession or ownership. So, perhaps you should explain what else the genitive case does besides indicating possession.


From wikipedia

- genitive marks a noun as modifying another noun

- It often marks a noun as being the possessor of another noun

- However, it can also indicate various relationships other than possession

"a few days' time" falls into the last one. It's showing the relationship between "days" and "time" without days possessing time.

The parts I quoted from Grammar Girl explained why the confusion exists. By rewording "genitive" to "possessive" is misleading, making people think it only applies to possessions.

@Crumbly

I did read the entire article. The part about "whose" was at the end. What I said was at the time of my post, I hadn't finished it yet.

Replies:   REP
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Sorry, Ross, but you aren't likely to find many people married to the CMoS's guidelines, since few of us publish with any specific publishing house's requiring their adherence.


The major publishing houses all have their own style manuals. It's possible the majority are based on CMoS, but I get the impression they use it mainly for headings and page layouts etc rather than for grammar rules. Even if I'm wrong, the grammar rules are very poorly enforced, as you'd expect in the fiction market. For example, a recently published novel is in stream of consciousness style and is devoid of punctuation (according to a newspaper review).

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

'Cept "two days of time" sounds STUPID!!!


I agree, although it does permit comparison with eg "two pounds of flour", which never gets contracted or whatever to "two pounds' flour".

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

CW headed off on a rant after apparently misinterpreting what I wrote.
I made a post in which the only words I wrote were:

CMOS has an opinion on that - That is how it is. Deal with it.
5.61 states:

I meant the dash to roughly translate into, "... and this is what their opinion amounts to."
The section I was quoting was a particular bad example of CMOS's often dictatorial attitudes.
It appears CW interpreted the dash as roughly, "... so this is what we here should do."
It never even occurred to me that I might need a smiley so nobody would interpret that literally. :(

REP

@Switch Blayde

It's showing the relationship between "days" and "time" without days possessing time.


Perhaps that is the problem SB.

It sounds to me as though the definition of 'other than possessive' is so ill-defined that it can be applied to any relationship.

So far I have not seen a definition of that category. The only thing people are doing is providing examples and vaguely worded descriptions.

For example, consider your Wikipedia quote:

However, it can also indicate various relationships other than possession


It (the genitive) may indicate 'relationships other than possession', but what guideline or rules are being applied to determine if a relationship is one of those 'various non-possessive relationships'.

If a grammatical source does not provide the criteria being used to determine if a relationship should or should not be one of those other Genitive non-possessive relationships, then we should question the validity of the source's determinations. So until I understand 'Why' the relationship between 'days' and 'time' fits into the niche of a Genitive relationship, when other relationships don't qualify, I will question the validity of their determination.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


So far I have not seen a definition of that category.


Up until this discussion, I never heard the term genitive so that's how much I know about the subject. I've been using Google. I just found a site that is relatively clear (and short). It looks to be a German site (ends in .de) for learning English. https://www.learnenglish.de/grammar/casepossgen.html

The biggest issue English learners have with the "genetive case" is that it's not always used to show possession. It can be used to show a relationship between things.

As with possessives generally, the term 'genitive' should not be identified too closely with ideas of ownership or actual possession or belonging. The genitive case signals a structural grammatical relationship between a noun and a noun phrase, and the actual relationship between the things referred to by the nouns may simply be some kind of loose association." (James R. Hurford, Grammar: A Student's Guide. Cambridge University Press, 1994)


I assume we all know what possessive is, so I'll skip that. For genitive, it says:

You should still use the "of" form of the possessive / genitive case when talking about things that belong to other things.


The good news is that the genitive case "of" is used less and less in English today. Hooray!


It looks like sometimes you must keep the "of" (House of Lords)

Sometimes you use an 's (The top speed of the car is 1000 km/hr. You might also hear, "the car's top speed")

And sometimes you don't even need the 's (The door of the car. You can also say, "the car door")

And then sometimes you hear both ("The father of the bride," but it could equally be; "The bride's father.")

But although the 's is used instead of the "of" version, it is not a contraction.

I hope this helps. As a native English speaker, I think most of it comes natural.

Replies:   awnlee jawking  Joe Long  REP
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

But although the 's is used instead of the "of" version, it is not a contraction.


English used to stick 'es' on the end of a word to indicate possession (so Fred Flintstone would say 'the cares top speed'), then the 'e' got removed and replaced by the apostrophe. Isn't that a contraction?

AJ

Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

I think most of it comes natural.


Naturally.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

then the 'e' got removed and replaced by the apostrophe. Isn't that a contraction?


Crumbly called it a contraction because it replaced the "of."

In your case, technically yes, but who would even know the apostrophe is replacing an "e"?

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

English used to stick 'es' on the end of a word to indicate possession (so Fred Flintstone would say 'the cares top speed'), then the 'e' got removed and replaced by the apostrophe. Isn't that a contraction?


Been thinking about this over lunch. No, it's not a contraction.

A contraction is a combination of two words with the apostrophe replacing part of one of the words. So:

"don't" can be written as "do not."

But you can't write "car's" as "car es."

In fact, it's not combining two words at all.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

A contraction is a combination of two words with the apostrophe replacing part of one of the words.

You cannot say that, or if you prefer, you can't say that.
And before you say that 'cannot' is really two words, you can not say that about rock 'n' roll.
The apostrophe denotes anything which is omitted, words or letters.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

The apostrophe denotes anything which is omitted, words or letters.


The "'n" in "rock 'n roll" is not a contraction.
Cannot is not a contraction.

The issue isn't the apostrophe. It's whether "days'" is a contraction.

So "days'" in "a few days' time" is not a contraction.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

The "'n" in "rock 'n roll" is not a contraction.


'n is a contraction of and

robberhands

@Joe Long

'n is a contraction of and

I wonder why it's rarely used.

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

'n is a contraction of and

'n' is a contraction of and, according to both Ox. Dict. and dictionary.com.

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

'n is a contraction of and


I don't get that. The definition of contraction is

A contraction is a word made by shortening and combining two words.

from https://www.gcflearnfree.org/grammar/contractions/1/

"and combining two words."

And wikipedia says:

Contraction is also distinguished from clipping, where beginnings and endings are omitted.


'n seems to be a clipping.

And from: http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/using-contractions.html

Since the word contract means to squeeze together, it seems only logical that a contraction is two words made shorter by placing an apostrophe where letters have been omitted.

REP
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


I hope this helps. As a native English speaker, I think most of it comes natural.


Not really, but thanks. I think it only come naturally if you understand the reasoning behind it.

In your example, "the car's top speed" car's is possessive because the top speed is a characteristic of the car. So it doesn't fit the non-possessive grouping. I would say the same thing of bride's father in that the family relationship gives ownership. He is her father.

So far there hasn't been a rationale what there is about the relationship between 2 words that makes the relationship a non-possessive genitive relationship.

I don't know if the following helps or confuses things. It does seem to shed a bit of light on what non-possessive genitive means:

In grammar, genitive ... is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun. It often marks a noun as being the possessor of another noun.[2] However, it can also indicate various relationships other than possession: certain verbs may take arguments in the genitive case, and it may have adverbial uses (see Adverbial genitive).

Placing the modifying noun in the genitive case is one way to indicate that two nouns are related in a genitive construction. Modern English typically does not morphologically mark nouns for a genitive case in order to indicate a genitive construction; instead, it uses either the 's clitic or a preposition (usually of). However, the personal pronouns do have distinct possessive forms. There are various other ways to indicate a genitive construction, as well. For example, many Afroasiatic languages place the head noun (rather than the modifying noun) in the construct state.

... English does not have a proper genitive case, but a possessive ending, -'s, although some pronouns have irregular possessive forms which may more commonly be described as genitives; see English possessive.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genitive_case

The first paragraph of the quote seems to be saying that the genitive case marks a noun as being used as a modifier of a second noun. It appears genitive is about a noun being identified as a modifier. Now combine that with the third paragraph which says - English does not have a proper genitive case, but a possessive ending, -'s.

The second paragraph is addressing the use of a clitic. Evidently a clitic is a symbol used to indicate the omission of something. In English, 's is a commonly used clitic, but there are others as indicated by the following quote. The second paragraph of the quote is of special interest for it says, we use clitics to form contractions. So in the phrase 'days of time', if we drop 'of', then we need to replace it with the a clitic ('s). That means 'day's time' is the proper format.

In morphology and syntax, a clitic ... is a morpheme that has syntactic characteristics of a word, but depends phonologically on another word or phrase. In this sense, it is syntactically independent but phonologically dependent, always attached to a host.[1] ... A clitic is pronounced like an affix, but plays a syntactic role at the phrase level. In other words, clitics have the form of affixes, but the distribution of function words. For example, the contracted forms of the auxiliary verbs in I'm and we've are clitics.

Clitics can belong to any grammatical category, although they are commonly pronouns, determiners, or adpositions. Note that orthography is not always a good guide for distinguishing clitics from affixes: clitics may be written as separate words, but sometimes they are joined to the word on which they depend (like the Latin clitic -que, meaning "and"), or separated by special characters such as hyphens or apostrophes (like the English clitic 's in "it's" for "it has" or "it is").


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitic

I am going to have to think about this for a couple of days before I put it all together.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Been thinking about this over lunch. No, it's not a contraction.


Drat, we've had this before and I'm still getting it wrong :(

AJ

Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

'n seems to be a clipping.


Fair enough. I considered all shortenings to be contractions. Clipping would be a subset.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


I would say the same thing of bride's father in that the family relationship gives ownership


She doesn't own her father so it's not possessive. It's one of the other relationships between nouns.

ETA: The following is from Ross's post:

The genitive case denotes
(1) ownership, possession, or occupancy [the architect's drawing board, Arnie's room];
(2) a relationship [the philanthropist's secretary];
(3) agency [the company's representative];
(4) description [a summer's day];
(5) the role of a subject [the boy's application (the boy applied)];
(6) the role of an object [the prisoner's release (someone released the prisoner)]; or
(7) an idiomatic shorthand form of an of-phrase (e.g., one hour's delay is equal to a delay of one hour).


So "the bride's father" would be #2.

If it were #1 (possession/ownership), her father would be her slave.

Replies:   REP
Switch Blayde

You know what, I will refrain from responding because if I do I will sound like you and that's not me.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

You know what, I will refrain from responding because if I do I will sound like you and that's not me.

Okay. I'll put up a new version of that post.
In a post of over 500 words, I have deleted five and amended four.
If you do not wish to answer that version, everyone will see "that's not me" means you do not write posts that state relevant facts.

REP

@Switch Blayde

her father would be her slave.


We parents seem to be our kids' slaves from their birth to our death.

Ross at Play

"A contraction is a word made by shortening and combining two words."
from https://www.gcflearnfree.org/grammar/contractions/1/

And wikipedia says:
"Contraction is also distinguished from clipping, where beginnings and endings are omitted."

You've managed to find and obscure reference somewhere that says somebody, somewhere, uses some other word nobody here has ever heard of to divide what we all understand by 'contraction' into two categories.
If you had been saying "that is not a contraction - it's a clipping" then you may have a case. You have not been doing that.
You've found this so-called explanation after the fact ... And, as we shall see, you stuffed up this one too.

You found a reference in gcflearnfree.com? Well who the hell are they. Never hear of it. That means nothing.

Then you found a quote somewhere in Wiki. I notice you don't say where.

So what does Wiki really say? ... in articles that have some relevance to us here.

This is from the article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraction_(grammar)
This is its first line. This is contraction means when used as a grammar term:

A contraction is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word, syllable, or word group, created by omission of internal letters and sounds.


Then there's the Oxford Dictionary ...

contraction noun
3 [countable] (linguistics) a short form of a word
'He's' may be a contraction of 'he is' or 'he has'.

Note #1 - a shortened form a "a word" - not a group of words into one word.
Note #2 - The Oxford Dictionary does not mention any meaning for 'clipping' as any kind of shortening of word(s).

Then from dictionary.com ...

a shortened form of a word or group of words, with the omitted letters often replaced in written English by an apostrophe, as e'er for ever, isn't for is not, dep't for department.

Note - the example of e'er for ever

Then from the British English definition (copied from the Collins Dictionary and quoted within the dictionary.com entry) ...

a shortening of a word or group of words, often marked in written English by an apostrophe: I've come for I have come

Note - a word or group of words

You don't even your pathetic excuse of a rationalisation for what you've been saying right.

There is no explanation for what you want under 'clipping' in dictionary.com - you get redirected to "clipped form".
And what do you find under "clipped form"? ... something completely different!
The examples it gives for "clipped form" are:
deli from delicatessen
flu from influenza
doc for doctor

So when claimed " 'n' " should be called a clipping, not a contraction ...
Wrong #1 – Dictionaries call that "clipped form", not "clipping"
Wrong #2 - Clipped forms actually mean something quite different

Whatever it was you thought you found, it has no relevance to any of us here discussing writing. For us here, a 'contraction' always has, and still means, any shorting of one or more words into a single word, with apostrophes to denote omitted letters or words.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I have noticed you made a third quote in the post I thought was complete rubbish. It is

And from: http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/using-contractions.html
Since the word contract means to squeeze together, it seems only logical that a contraction is two words made shorter by placing an apostrophe where letters have been omitted.

My response to that is:
NO! That is not logical.
Agreed, 'contraction' is derived from the word 'contract', but that does not mean every nuance of the original word is carried forward when creating some new terminology in a specialised field. That's how our language evolves. A word with a similar meaning to what is needed is taken and applied in a new situation with slightly different nuances applied to it.
In short, it is logical to expect some differences between the meanings of the words 'contract' and 'contraction (linguisics)'.

richardshagrin

Clipping is a 15 yard penalty.

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

Not really.

More than fifty posts later I still come to the conclusion that the English use of the possessive apostrophe 's' is a convoluted mess.

Replies:   REP
helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Since the word contract means to squeeze together, it seems only logical that a contraction is two words made shorter by placing an apostrophe where letters have been omitted.


This is faulty logic.

"fo'c's'le" meets the above definition with the exception it's only one word.

This would be correct:

a contraction is one or more words made shorter by placing an apostrophe where letters have been omitted.

HM.

robberhands

@helmut_meukel

"fo'c's'le"

That's just an example for the slurred voice of a drunken sailor.

Ernest Bywater

This thread has drifted a little, but it's still staying close to today's subject.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

When I wrote my insulting post (since deleted) I was convinced you were lying. I could not believe you could have tried to research whether contractions of only one word exist and still believed they do not.
There is an awful lot of total crap out there!
It is certainly true that most contractions join two or more words into one.
There are, however, a number of contractions of single words, most with archaic roots. Examples I can think of are: ma'am, e'er, ne'er, ol', fo'c'sle. What else are they if not contractions?
But we do it all the time! Contractions are not restricted to those listed in dictionaries. The standard practice when dropping letters from a word is to mark the place where letter(s) have been omitted with an apostrophe. I'd be shocked if you've never written something like thinkin'. What else is that if not a routine contraction?

This is how I came to believe you were doing what others here do all too often, become willing to do almost anything to avoid admitting they had made a mistake, or be the first to stop responding once a dispute has started.

I did my research. The first places I looked at were dictionaries: where else would you start if wanting to know the meaning of a word? I looked up what the Oxford and Collins Dictionaries, and dictionary.com (based on Random House) and they all explicitly mentioned "a word or group".
Then I went to Wiki. I typed in 'contraction' and the first choice it offers me is 'contraction (grammar)'. The first line of that is, "A contraction is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word, syllable, or word group, created by omission of internal letters and sounds."

I was suspicious of the sources you quoted, gcflearnfree.org and grammar.yourdictionary.com. I'd never heard of either of them. I wondered why you had not looked up your favourite, Grammar Girl, to quote at us.
It was when I saw how you totally misrepresented what Wiki states that I went ape-shit. It was impossible to believe at the time you had not intentionally misrepresented what Wiki states.

What it looked like to me was:
- the first site you quoted (gsflearnfree) was probably where you got the daft idea from in the first place.
- the other site was something convenient you found – and the point it makes is incredibly stupid. It claims it is "logical" that contractions must join two words - hold onto your chair so you don't fall out when you read this – the meanings of the word 'contract' is joining two things, so 'contraction (for linguistic use)' must have an identical meaning.

I still cannot figure out how you thought the words from Wiki supported your contention that contractions can only be of two or more words. Your quote said 'contractions' are one thing ans 'clippings' another. Yes, clippings are when bits of words are simply chopped off giving us words like fridge, phone, lab, math. Contractions certainly are different. Every example given has an apostrophe marking where letter(s) or word(s) have been dropped.
It was the fact you somehow managed to overlook the first sentence of the article, and you then found something quite irrelevant that convinced me you were just being bloody-minded and looking for anything that would appear to support your contention.

What changed my mind about your intentions was when I tried to replicate the kind of research you might have done. I wanted to see how many reputable sources of information you had to ignore to find some quotes to support your case. I started with a Google search for 'grammar + contractions'. I did not expect to find the sources you quoted near the top of the results, but they were both there.
They are both extremely simplistic and intended only for students.
yourdictionary.com boasts it is the "easiest-to-use online dictionary". (at http://www.yourdictionary.com/about.html) Wow, that inspires confidence in its credibility as a reference source.
This is who gcflearnfree.org says it's aimed at (at https://www.gcflearnfree.org/info/aboutus/who-uses-us), "From seniors learning computer basics to seasoned professionals brushing up on Microsoft Office to unemployed individuals gaining career skills to students practicing math." I am underwhelmed. Perhaps I should contact them and advise them of the existence of things called commas?

Switch, I apologise for misinterpreting your intentions. It did not occur to me that you might have seriously looked for information and the first two things you would stumble across would be complete rubbish, and that you could also misinterpret the Wiki article in such a strange way.
If you are looking for information in the future, please don't start with a Google search. Try grammarly.com ot thoughtco.com (the new name for what used to be grammar.about.com). There are some other decent sites, but you can be pretty confident in those two.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

And I'd suggest you ease up on the 'going ape-shit'. You might need your resources for arguments about something more serious than grammatical disputes.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

And I'd suggest you ease up on the 'going ape-shit'. You might need your resources for arguments about something more serious than grammatical disputes.

I don't have any arguments other than here.
I've given up discussing anything other than writing here.
I would not want people thinking they can get away with intentionally disrupting discussions about writing, simply to keep an argument going, and not risk having me attack them.
I looked at a mass of data and came to a wrong conclusion this time. I have apologised for that, but I will not promise to not be willing to get into occasional fights if others insist on them - in order to keep these forums functioning.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I would not want people thinking they can get away with intentionally disrupting discussions about writing, simply to keep an argument going, and not risk having me attack them.

To begin with, if you wouldn't go ape-shit, you wouldn't need to apologize. Your angry rants are as disrupting to a discussion as any intentional attempt to disturb.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

you wouldn't need to apologize.

I do my best, I will not fight unless it appears necessary, and I have no problem with apologising if I make a mistake. I'm comfortable with that.

awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

"Bus" used to be written as "'bus", being a contraction of omnibus.

(Did I use 'contraction' correctly this time, or did I flunk yet again?)

AJ

Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

"Bus" used to be written as " 'bus", being a contraction of omnibus.
(Did I use 'contraction' correctly this time, or did I flunk yet again?)

That is correct. Most contractions like that, with letters dropped at either end, become established as a new truncated word very quickly.
It's the ones where the letters have been dropped in the middle of the word that tend to stick around forever. There's not a lot, but they exist.

robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

(Did I use 'contraction' correctly this time, or did I flunk yet again?)

Well, according to what I read here, 'bus' is the 'clipped form' of 'omnibus', which is apparently 'something completely different!'

ETA: But maybe I mixed that up somehow. It's a mess.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

Did you notice the spelling, 'bus?

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

Did you notice the spelling, 'bus?

I didn't, but does it matter? The examples given for 'clipped form' were:
deli from delicatessen
flu from influenza
doc for doctor
And those look the same to me as bus, with or without the '''.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

And those look the same to me as bus, with or without the '''.

The spelling of 'bus and bus are different.
The first is a contraction.
The second is a clipped or truncated word.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

What a sensible explanation. So truncation or clipped means to get rid of the silly apostrophe. In that case I only need to understand why I'd use it at all.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

What a sensible explanation. So truncation or clipped means to get rid of the silly apostrophe. In that case I only need to understand why I'd use it at all.

For something like thinkin', which you make yourself, the apostrophe is needed to indicate something has been dropped.
It's unlikely that pronunciation will become so commonplace that people start dropping the apostrophe from the spelling.
But it's harder for the comma to be dropped from something like ma'am.

Geek of Ages

Keep in mind, there is a distinction between words used by linguists to discuss linguistic phenomena in languages (such as clipping) and words used internal to a language to describe its internal grammatical/pragmatic structure (such as contraction in English)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

Keep in mind, there is a distinction between words used by linguists to discuss linguistic phenomena in languages (such as clipping) and words used internal to a language to describe its internal grammatical/pragmatic structure (such as contraction in English)

I meant the language someone with expertise would use when explaining something to the general population.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@helmut_meukel


a contraction is one or more words made shorter


Yes, I saw that in the definitions but none gave an example of a word that was contracted so I left the single word part out. My mistake.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I meant the language someone with expertise would use when explaining something to the general population.


Heh! Experts use the most impenetrable jargon possible as a form of self-aggrandisement ;)

AJ

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Ross at Play

Let's see: first there was "omnibus", then the omni was ommitted indicated by the apostrophe "'bus", finally it became a word in its own right "bus".

This happens in most languages for frequently used but awkward long words, however not always in the same way.

Automobil was truncated in German to Auto and in Danish to
bil. (plural: Automobile, biler).

I didn't understand however why 'bus is called a contraction until I looked up "contract" in my English-German dictionary and found II. v/t 9. ling. zs.-ziehen, verkürzen

While the german verb "zusammenziehen" always means start and end remain the same, "verkürzen" is mostly used when cutting off a piece.

I've never before encountered "contract" used in the sense of "verkürzen".

BTW, looking up "verkürzen" in the German-English part of the dictionary gives me only "shorten; curtail, cut; reduce" but not "contract". Funny.

HM.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@helmut_meukel

I've never before encountered "contract" used in the sense of "verkürzen".

Welcome to the joys of English ...
As a verb, 'contract' has three very different senses.
- To make or become smaller
- To catch an disease
- To make some kind of legal agreement

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

To win the auction to play a hand of bridge ;)

AJ

REP
Updated:

@robberhands


the English use of the possessive apostrophe 's' is a convoluted mess.


In my rather long post (8/21 2:43), Wikipedia states " 's " is not indicating the possessive case in a statement like "day's time". Wikipedia indicates that the English language does not have a dedicated method of indicating the genitive case, so it uses " 's " to indicate the associated word is modifying another word - typically two nouns.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@REP

Well, that clears the mess up nicely, I guess.

Replies:   REP  Ross at Play
REP
Updated:

@robberhands


I guess.


I know. The genitive case as presented by Wikipedia doesn't seem to match up with what other articles are saying. However, the writers of those other articles don't bother to explain what the genitive case is, but Wikipedia provides a logical explanation. Now all I have to do is decide if they are right.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@robberhands

Well, that clears the mess up nicely, I guess.

Okay, I'll try.
There are two questions:
1. How to form something that needs an apostrophe and an 's'
2. What situations do you need it.

For the How To, there are two different styles. This is the easy one:
- Add an apostrophe then (another) 's' whenever (a) the meaning can only be singular, OR (b) the meaning is plural but the word does not end in 's'.
- Add only an apostrophe when (a) the meaning could be plural, AND (b) the word already ends in an 's'.

For the When, look at the fifth post in this thread. It lists seven situations when this style of punctuation is needed. My guess, if German has a "real" genitive case, you will only recognise the first three as situations that logically require the genitive case. Those are the three situations where there is an alternative of reversing the nouns and putting an 'of' between.

Beware! My confidence level that this advice is sound is not particularly high. However, you and Helmut are welcome to send me emails asking me hat to do with particular example sentences.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

Beware! My confidence level that this advice is sound is not particularly high. However, you and Helmut are welcome to send me emails asking me what to do with particular example sentences.

Nah, I don't want my editor and proofreaders to become bored and careless.

Switch Blayde

@REP

Now all I have to do is decide if they are right.


What you have to accept is that "possessive" (in the genitive case context) does not always mean "ownership" even when it has an 's.

Replies:   robberhands  REP
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

That's actually easy for me since I had to learn long ago that ownership and possession are two totally different things.

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP

@Switch Blayde

What you have to accept


I accepted it. Now I am looking at the non-possessive use of " 's '. According to Wikipedia, 's is a clitic. The clitic signifies the word it is associated with is modifying another word. Another was of saying it would be the clitic is used to signify a noun is being used as an adjective.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

That's actually easy for me since I had to learn long ago that ownership and possession are two totally different things.

When you got married, I presume?

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

When you got married, I presume?

Nope, so far I didn't marry, and can't see it in my future either. Besides that, marriage is usually a case of shared ownership and possession, independent from your desire to share or not to share.

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP
Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

Which reminds me of a joke I heard about what makes a successful Asian marriage: the wife takes care of all the small stuff, and the husband all the big stuff.

So the wife makes all decisions about money, children, housing, education, etc., and the husband makes all decisions about religion.

richardshagrin

con tract: a convict issues a pamphlet arguing a point of view (a tract). Or maybe its a con (when someone cheats you out of money.)

Joe Long

Having to do with possessive time but not apostrophes, I was just in a discussion on Twitter about the proper use of "last", "this" and "next" when referring to units of time.

For example, someone said "this was last May." I checked the source and found it was from May 2017, so I said, "No, that's this May" and then a third person said, "Last May is 2017, this May will be 2018."

I argued that any month in the current year is "this", same for days in a week. "This Sunday" is the Sunday in "this week."

richardshagrin

@Joe Long

The days of the week are:
Moanday (because you have to go to work.)
Twosday (seeing double.)
Wed Nes Day (Nes gets married every week.)
Thirstday (time for a drink)
Fry Day (time to fry something to eat, if Roman Catholic,
probably fish.)
Sadder Day (Not happy, probably your team lost.)
Son day (its my day, I am a son.)
Alternate for persons lacking the Y chromosome,
Stunday (the week stuns you.)

Replies:   Dominions Son
REP

@robberhands

Besides that, marriage is usually a case of shared ownership and possession


Until the divorce. :)

Dominions Son
Updated:

@richardshagrin

The real origins of the days of the week are a mix of Roman, Norse and Celtic mythology.

Sun Day

Moon Day,

Tuesday*

Wednesday*

Thor's Day

Freyr's Day

Saturn's Day

*I forget the origin of Tuesday and Wednesday, and I don't feel like looking them up.

ETA: I remembered Wednesday: Woden's Day (Woden is a Germanic variation on the Norse Oden)

Replies:   helmut_meukel
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

I argued that any month in the current year is "this", same for days in a week. "This Sunday" is the Sunday in "this week."

Wow! It has never occurred to me that others might look at 'this' that way. To me, 'last' is always in the past, 'this' in the future, and 'next' more than one in the future.
Apparently interpretations vary widely - so we can't use those expressions from our stories. What do we use.
Does 'on' and a day of the week with a past or future tense mean the same to everybody?
Do we all think 'was on Friday' and 'will be on Friday' both mean less than seven days ago, or in the future?
I guess for months that would have to be 'was in December' and 'will be in December'.

awnlee jawking

@Joe Long

I've met this one before. The problem is the multiple interpretations of 'this': the closest in the past, the overall closest, or the closest in the future. From there, last is the one before and next is the one after.

It's safest to be explicit.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

It's safest to be explicit.

I figured that much out.
What is explicit for closest in the past/future?

Joe Long

@Ross at Play

What is explicit for closest in the past/future?


Perhaps a hundred years ago in the US a custom as to use 'ult.' (a contraction for 'ultimo) the indicate the immediately previous time period.

Example. This is Aug 22. Of an event that happened in July, I could write:

Ross was rude to AJ in a post on the 18th ult.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play


What is explicit for closest in the past/future?


Seriously now -

I reckon you couldn't use a comparative phrasing, so all I can think of is using an exact date.

I will have my fortieth high school reunion during the first weekend of September.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

I will have my fortieth high school reunion during the first weekend of September.

So it looks like you agree with:
'will be in September'
'was in September'
'will be on Friday'
'was on Friday'

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

'was on Friday'


But then I might ask, "Which Friday?" as there are many in the past.

However, this phrasing implies it's the most recent.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

What is explicit for closest in the past/future?


There are probably lots of options but 'two days ago' and 'three days henceforth' spring to mind.

Interestingly I didn't feel any inclination to utilise apostrophes. Should I be worried?

AJ

Replies:   Joe Long  Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@Joe Long

Ross was rude to AJ in a post on the 18th ult.


The scoundrel, I'll have him horsewhipped! ;)

AJ

Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

'three days henceforth'


Yesterday I commented on Twitter, in regards to a 1932 newspaper clipping, that no one seems to use 'hence' anymore.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Joe Long

I'll have him horsewhipped! ;)


First of all you need someone strong enough to swing the horse. :)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@REP

That's why I didn't say, "I'll horsewhip him." :(

My verbal skills have just disappeared down the toilet. When I try to write things like 'the paramedics deambulanced' and 'they returned with a heavily bebandaged patient', it's probably a sign I should give up writing for the day :(

AJ

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


deambulanced'


'deambulanced' I could accept for it parallels deplaned, but bebandage should be bandaged, so you are probably right. Take 2 days if needed. :)

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

'two days ago' and 'three days henceforth' spring to mind.
Interestingly I didn't feel any inclination to utilise apostrophes. Should I be worried?

No, because henceforth is an adverb, not a noun.

helmut_meukel

@Dominions Son

Tuesday*


Tuesday is "Tīw's Day" (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag)
see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Týr

HM.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Joe Long

I was just in a discussion on Twitter about the proper use of "last", "this" and "next" when referring to units of time.


The meaning and use of these words varies with the culture of the country. In some countries saying something like 'This Tuesday' means the Tuesday still to occur that's closest to the day you're experiencing when you say it, while in some other countries they would refer to the same Tuesday as Next Tuesday because it's the next one to arrive. Last Tuesday would be the one previous to the current day closest to it, and that seems to be constant from what I've seen used. And some use 'Next Tuesday' to be the one after the Tuesday closest to you in future time. However, I've never heard of the words 'next' or 'this' being related to a time period in the past, unless qualified in some way like - 'This last June,' or 'June of this year.'

However, the only time I've seen someone use the word 'this' when speaking of time they usually mean it to refer to the time period they're currently in, or they add the word 'past' or 'coming' to indicate which one. Some examples would be about something happening in 'this hour' or 'the next hour' or 'the last hour' or 'the past hour' - in theses cases they mean the current hour and the one either just before or just after it; same usage for other time terms in the place of hour.

Replies:   Ross at Play  Joe Long
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

The meaning and use of these words varies with the culture of the country.

Learning that happens came as a shock to me, but I think we've established the fact that variations exist well enough so it's not necessary for everyone here to list how it was done where they grew up.

Does anyone have ideas about what we should do to avoid using these expressions in our stories?
I think that 'on a day' or 'in a month' works, when combined with a past or future tense, for the closest one before or after now, but I'm not certain others will interpret those in the same way I do.

Dominions Son

@helmut_meukel

10Q

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

so it's not necessary for everyone here to list how it was done where they grew up.


Boo! Spoil sport! :)

Joe Long

@Ernest Bywater

The meaning and use of these words varies with the culture of the country.


This question arose because a fellow Twit told me there must be regional variations within the US

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Does anyone have ideas about what we should do to avoid using these expressions in our stories?


I try to resolve this issue by being more specific, and avoid the confusion.

JohnBobMead

@awnlee jawking

I can certainly confirm the use of es where we would use 's at the end of words in older manuscripts, in my free time I transcribe renaissance fencing manuals. Very slowly. Trying to merely change the font and not the spelling is a lot harder than one would think. I generally end up with two documents, one with the spelling unchanged, and one where it is standardized; one is for the academics, the other for the HEMA types. Hard to say generally, I've only done two manuals so far.

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

I'd probably use "coming" and "past."

This coming Tuesday.
This past Tuesday.

Replies:   Joe Long  awnlee jawking
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

I'd probably use "coming" and "past."


That'll work.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

This coming Tuesday.
This past Tuesday.


'This cumming Tuesday' is very apt for a sex story site. Can we think of something more appropriate instead of past? ;)

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

Can we think of something more appropriate instead of past? ;)

Postcoital.

Back to Top