Genitivo Sajón: ¿Sí o No?

Number 52 of 59 in A2 - ELEMENTARY

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There are three ways to express possession in English:

Las Alas de la Paloma =

  1. The Wings of a Dove
  2. Dove’s Wings    (Genitivo Sajón)
  3. Dove Wings

Option 1. is generally more literary or poetic, OR for inanimate objects that by definition cannot be owners:
The Bridges of Madison County
The Scent of a Woman
The Art of War
The Dawn of Time

Option 2. is more conversational and more common. The possessor must have a personality (You can use this in a very wide sense):

David’s sister
A woman’s scent
My father’s car
The dog’s bone*
London’s tourist attractions**

Option 3. is when something is an intrinsic part of something inanimate OR does not specify possession in a real sense. This is effectively an adjective + noun structure:

The bathroom window
Desert skies
The car door
Madison County Bridges
London tourist attractions**

* = A dog is the possessor of the bone. If you need proof, try to take it from him (or her). The possessor does not have to be a person, but it must have ‘personality’. You can use this in a wide sense.
** = There is no direct line to divide one from another. I prefer “London’s tourist attractions”, although it doesn’t follow my explanation. It is an example of what I have written above (*)

Remember that with the ‘Genitivo Sajón’ (…’s) you should eliminate the article and start from the end:

La hermana del marido de mi amiga = The My friend’s husband’s sister.

Notice the difference between the plural and singular:

My brother‘s friends = Los amigos de mi hermano
My brothers’ friends = Los amigos de mis hermanos

This only applies when the plural has an ‘-s’ at the end. If not:

The children’s games =  The childrens’ games 

 

Choose: Incorrect (I), Possible (P) or Best Option (B)

1a. The friend of my parents.
1b. My parent’s friend.
1c. My parents’ friend.

2a. The main character of the film.
2b. The film main character.
2c. The film’s main character.

3a.  The end of the street.
3b. The street’s end.
3c. The street end.

4a. The wall of the garden.
4b. The garden’s wall.
4c. The garden wall.

5a. The manager of the hotel.
5b. The hotel’s manager.
5c. The hotel manager.

6a. The feet of the sheep.
6b. The sheep’s feet.
6c. The sheeps’ feet.

7a. A fan of Arsenal.
7b.  An Arsenal’s fan.
7c.  An Arsenal fan.

8a. A glass of wine.
8b. A wine’s glass.
8c. A wine class.

 

Answer: Incorrect (I), Possible (P) or Best Option (B)

1a. The friend of my parents. POSSIBLE, BUT NOT COMMON
1b. My parent’s friend.  THE FRIEND OF ONLY ONE OF YOUR PARENTS
1c. My parents’ friend. BEST OPTION
2a. The main character of the film. POSSIBLE
2b. The film main character. INCORRECT
2c. The film’s main character. BEST OPTION
3a.  The end of the street. BEST OPTION
3b. The street’s end. INCORRECT
3c. The street end. INCORRECT
4a. The wall of the garden. POSSIBLE, BUT NOT COMMON
4b. The garden’s wall. INCORRECT
4c. The garden wall. BEST OPTION
5a. The manager of the hotel. GOOD OPTION
5b. The hotel’s manager. INCORRECT
5c. The hotel manager. GOOD OPTION
6a. The feet of the sheep. NOT VERY GOOD
6b. The sheep’s feet. ONE SHEEP – CORRECT
6c. The sheeps’ feet. SHEEP IN PLURAL – CORRECT
7a. A fan of Arsenal. POSSIBLE, BUT NOT COMMON
7b.  Arsenal’s fan. INCORRECT – THE FAN DOES NOT BELONG TO ARSENAL
7c.  An Arsenal fan. BEST OPTION – ‘ARSENAL’ WORKS AS AN ADJECTIVE (BLACK CAT/ARSENAL FAN)
8a. A glass of wine. CORRECT – THERE IS WINE IN THE GLASS
8b. A wine’s glass. INCORRECT
8c. A wine glass. CORRECT – REFERS TO THE GLASS (THERE MIGHT NOT BE ANY WINE)
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