FORMATION OF THE POSSESSIVE CASE
1. Case indicates the relations of the noun or pronoun to the other words in the sentence. English nouns have two cases
· the common case, e.g. a girl; Mr. Smith; a ship, etc.
· the genitive or possessive case, e.g. a girl’s dress; Mr. Smith’s car; the ship’s sails; our neighbours’ houses; etc.
2. Nouns denoting living beings – animate nouns, and some nouns denoting lifeless things – inanimate nouns, form the possessive case in the following ways:
· the “apostrophe + s”is added to the noun in singular
· the “s + apostrophe”is added to the noun in plural
· the THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) “apostrophe”is added to the noun ending in “–s”, e.g. (see the table)
|a boy||a boy’s toy||these boys’ toys|
|a man||a man’s job||those men’s clothes|
|my parents||my parents’ bedroom|
|the child||the child’s future||these children’s future|
|Guy Fawkes||Guy Fawkes’ night|
|the Johnsons (a whole family)||the Johnsons’ house|
|a month||a month’s holiday||a three months’ holiday|
|a sister-in-law||my sister-in-law’s house||my sisters-in-law’s sons|
3. In modern English two THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) possessive cases in a row are also possible, e.g.
My brother’s neighbour’s sister is a nurse. = The sister of my brother’s neighbour is a nurse = Сестра соседа моего брата – медсестра.
What is your husband’s sister’s name? = What is the name of your husband’s sister? = Как зовут сестру вашего мужа?
4. The list of nouns denoting lifeless things (inanimate nouns) that can form the possessive case with the“apostrophe + s”orthe“s + apostrophe” is rather limited. It includes:
· nouns expressing time, e.g. a minute’s delay, a five weeks’ holiday;
· nouns expressing space, distance THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) and measure, e.g. a 5 miles’ walk, a kilometer’s distance, 10 shillings’ worth;
· nouns expressing geographic names, e.g. Europe’s territory, London’s streets;
· nouns expressing location, e.g. the world’s population, the Earth’s climate, the city’s suburbs;
· nouns expressing unique notions, e.g. Nature’s sleep, Venus’ orbit, the sun’s rays;
· collective nouns, e.g. the crew’s decision; the school’s future; the hotel’s staff;
· some means of transport, e.g. a ship’s sails; the train’s speed; the car’s wheel.
5. Generally the possessive case of inanimate THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) nouns is anof - form. This form is called partitiveas it shows a part of a whole, e.g. a leg of the table; a door of the car; a drawer of the desk.
6. There is alsonoun + noun possessive case formation, which is called descriptive because it doesn’t show a part of the whole but gives a general description of a thing, e.g. table leg; car door; desk drawer, detective story, apple tree.
|Partitive Meaning||Descriptive Meaning|
|the top of the table the trunk of the tree the top of the mountain the keys of the piano a THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) prong of a fork||a table top a tree trunk a mountain top piano keys a fork prong|
USE OF THE POSSESSIVE CASE
1. The Possessive Case can be used in the following meanings:
· possession, e.g. John’s bicycle was stolen.
· regular use, e.g. Don’t sit on this chair. It’s father’s.
· origin, e.g. William Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into many languages.
· description, e.g. Jane goes to a women’s college.
· measurements, e.g. Bob went on a six-weeks’ vacation in Europe last year. BUT: A five-thousand dollar award is announced for the THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) West Union Bank
2. Pronunciation: possessive endings in the singular are pronounced exactly like plural endings of regular nouns; in the plural there is no change in the pronunciation at all, e.g. my parents = my parents’ car.
3. There is zero article before the proper name if it is in the possessive case, e.g.
Peter’s new teacher; Virginia’s old house
4. Possessive case is usually used with the name of shops if the word shop is omitted:
Mary spent the whole day in the hairdresser’s before her school-leaving party.
There was no bread THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) at the baker’s this morning.
5. If possession, origin, description or measurement refer to a whole group of words, the“apostrophe + s” is added to the last word, e.g.
We decided to have the New Year party in Jane and David’s house.
Peter promised to be back in an hour or two’s time.
This is the man I saw yesterday’s son.
6. The“apostrophe + s”andthe“s + apostrophe”can also have the meaning of “some place”, e.g.
my uncle’s ( = my uncle’s house); at the Browns’ (= in the Browns’ house).
7. It is also possible to use two THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) nouns in the possessive case in a row, e.g.
What is your friend’s sister’s name?
My brother’s neighbour’s sister is a nurse.
8. The double possessive = of + noun’s
· This use can be compared with “he is a friend of mine”, and “she is a friend of his”, e.g.
Mr. Smith is a friend of my father’s. = Мистер Смит – один из друзей моего отца.
What would you like to see at the theatre? – A play of Shakespeare’s. = Одну из пьес Шекспира.
· The use of a demonstrative pronoun alongside with the double possessive often THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) suggests criticism, e.g.
That silly uncle of Henry’s has told me the same joke five times.
9. There are also some traditional set expressions with the possessive case, which are worth knowing. Learn them by heart:
· for heaven’s sake/ for God’s sake = Ради Бога
· to do smth to one’s heart’s delight/content/desire = вволю
· to be at one's wit's end/ to bring /to drive/ to one's wit s' end = совершенно растеряться/ поставить кого-то в тупик
· to be a stone’s throw away – в двух шагах = очень близко
· a child’s play = пустяковое THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) дело, легкая задача
· to be at death’s door – на пороге смерти
· to be a cat’s paw/ to make a cat's paw of smb – слепое орудие в чужих руках
· to keep someone at one’s arm’s length – держать кого-то на почтительном расстоянии
· at the water’s edge – у кромки воды
· a needle’s eye/point – игольное ушко; острие булавки
· to move at a snail’s pace = ползти как черепаха
· to keep out of harm’s way – держаться от греха подальше
SUBJECT – PREDICATE AGREEMENT
1. The subject and the predicate must always agree in number, e.g.
The smallest kitten is in the basket, while THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) the others are on the floor.
2. NUMERICAL EXPRESSIONSusually have a single verb, though the plural form is possible, e.g.
Two and three is five.
Twice two is/are four.
3. FORMAL (DUMMY) SUBJECTS “HERE» and “THERE” always agree with the first member of the enumeration, e.g.:
Here is Tom and Jack.
Here are the Johnsons and Mary.
There is a giraffe and 3 zebras in our Zoo.
There are 3 zebras and a giraffe in our Zoo.
4. Most INDEFINITE, NEGATIVE AND UNIVERSAL PRONOUNStake a singular verb,
| SOMEBODY, SOMEONE, SOMETHING |
EVERYBODY, EVERYONE, EVERYTHING
NOBODY, NO ONE, NOTHING
EITHER, NEITHER, EACH, NONE
Somebody is THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) asking for you.
Everybody is here.
Nobody has come yet.
Neither of the students has made a mistake.
Each of them is present.
None of these trades requires a college education. (though plural verb is also
possible in Modern English - None of these trades require …)
5. COMPOUND SUBJECTS connected by the conjunction “AND” have a plural verb,
Sun and air are necessary for life.
Both the bread and the butter are fresh.
When the parts of the subject connected by the conjunction “and” form a single unit or when they refer to the same person or thing, they THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) take a singular verb, e.g.
Bread and jamwas usually served for the five o’clock tea.
Sue’s friend and adviserwas surprised by her decision.
6. In the sentences with COMPOUND SUBJECTSconnected by the conjunctions
“EITHER … OR”
“NEITHER … NOR”,
“NOT ONLY … BUT ALSO”
agree with the subject which is nearer to it, e.g.
Not only my sisters but also my brother dislikes ice-cream.
Not only my brother but also my sisters dislike ice cream.
Neither you nor I am right.
Either my parents or my sister is at home.
Either my sister or my parents are at home THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE).
7. COMPOUND SUBJECTSconnected by the conjunctions
|“AS WELL AS “AS MUCH AS “TOGETHER WITH “ALONG WITH “IN ADDITION TO||“MORE THAN “INCLUDING “RATHER THAN “ACCOMPANIED BY|
agrees with the first subject, e.g.
My parents as well as my sisterare teachers.
My sister as well as my parents is a teacher.
Heavy rain together with high winds damages the crops.
High winds together with heavy rain damage the crops.
8. COLLECTIVE NOUNSmay have either singular or plural verbs depending on whether they denote a group of persons or things as a unit as individuals, e.g.
To some people the Royal Family symbolizes Great THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) Britain. (The family is regarded as a unit)
The Royal Family have different feelings about Lady Diana’s death. (The family is regarded as individuals)
The class respects the teacher.
The class have been debating this question for an hour.
9. When UNITS OF MEASUREMENTSare used collectively, they are followed by a singular verb, e.g.
Three-fourths of the pie has been eaten.
When they refer to individual persons or things, they are followed by a plural verb, e.g.
One fourth of the drivershave been tested.
10. The MAIN WORD IN THE SUBJECT GROUP always agrees with the predicate THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE),
A good set of golf clubs costs about $ 8,000.
Three hundred pounds (taken as a unit) is a big sum of money.
A four-weeks’ holiday was more than I had expected.
11. SINGULAR SUBJECTS THAT HAVE PLURAL FORMStake a singular verb, e.g.
No news is good news.
Aerobics is very popular nowadays.
Mathematics is a difficult subject for some students.
Measles is a dangerous disease.
Drafts is a very simple game.
12. “THE NUMBER” is always singular and has the meaning of quantity, while
a number is always plural and has the meaning of several, e.g.
The number THE POSSESSIVE CASE OF NOUNS (THE GENITIVE CASE) of dangerous diseases has increased.
A number of students have missed the lecture.
14. QUOTATIONS usually agree with a singular verb, e.g.
‘Say No to Death’ is a tragic novel.