Monday 26 May 2008

AAE Q144: 'apostrophe s'


I have a question concerning apostrophe –‘s.

I have been taught that apostrophe “-'s” is not applicable to things, ideas etc. just to people, animals, places and time.(English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy). But very often I can see in the technical standards using -‘s for objects. For example:

The fire scenario's primary purpose is to identify the product's potential contribution to each

hazardous aspect of the developing fire and, thereby, those aspects of the product's fire

performance which affect the outcome of the fire scenario. Once the key contributors are

established, methods for their quantification or measurement must be identified as illustrated

in Flowchart 1.

Is the use of apostrophe in this context correct?

I wonder because there was a discussion between people having English as mother language and people learned English as second language. Some English speaking people insist that using the apostrophe for things is correct and Murphy has wrong.

I appreciate your answer very much.

Best regards,
Irina Ekblad

Hi Irina,

I have been doing some research on the subject and, to be honest, finding a set of rules which works all the time is impossible.

Firstly I would like to say that all of the highlighted examples above are completely fine; using the apostrophe for things, people or animals is correct.

However sometimes it is not necessary to use an apostrophe: if the noun is a building, an object, or a piece of furniture

room of the hotel = hotel room

door of the car = car door

leg of the table = table leg

Hope this helps.



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