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2. The possessive case and of


1 Form

We use the possessive of a noun in phrases like the boy's name and Vicky's room.
We form the possessive like this.

We can use the possessive form with another noun or on its own.
I've met Rachel's family, but I haven't met Vicky's. (Vicky's = Vicky's family)

2 The boy's name or the name of the boy?

Compare these structures.


the boy's name
the boys' names
the men's names


the name of the boy
the names of the boys
the names of the men

Sometimes we can use either the possessive (the boy's name) or a phrase with of (the name of the boy), but often only one is possible. We normally use the possessive with people and animals.
my friend's house
CIaire's idea
Daniel's brother
our neighbour's garden
the dog's owner
the policemen's uniforms
the women's changing room
the Parkers' car

We normally use of with things, and not the possessive form.
the side of the house NOT the house's side
the result of the match NOT the match's result
the day of the meeting NOT the meeting's day

But we use of with people when there is a long phrase.
the house of one of our teachers at college
the address of those people we met in Spain
NOT those peeple who we met in Spain's address

We can use both structures for places and organizations.
London's museums OR the museums of London
the earth's atmosphere OR the atmosphere of the earth
the company's future OR the future of the company
the government's intentions OR the intentions of the government

3 The possessive of time

We can use the possessive to say 'when' or 'how long'.
last week's concert
today's TV programmes
yesterday's news
about a month's work
a moment's silence
ten minutes' walk

Note also:
in two months' time (two months from now)
a week's wages (wages for a week)

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