Possessive ‘s

The genitive case is likely to cause trouble to English students because of its similarity to open compounds. To clarify the issue, a distinction has to be made.

In structures where two nouns are linked by the possessive determinative ‘s, the stress always falls on the second element (my brother’s wife / today’s paper) except for one important case: when the first noun functions as a classifier. In that kind of construction it is the first element that carries the stress, so if the expression is at the end of an IP, the LLI rule will be broken.

(285) sound_loud_speaker This is not a teacher’s job.

(286) sound_loud_speaker Look! A crow’s nest.

(287) sound_loud_speaker We are looking for children’s clothes.

(288) sound_loud_speaker It wasn’t very sensible of you to give all your daughters boys’ names.

Swan (2003) illustrates this relation with the following pair:

(289) sound_loud_speaker doll’s house (a kind of house).

(290) sound_loud_speaker My brother’s house (not a kind of house).

The difference can be appreciated in the following example as well:

(291) sound_loud_speaker What I certainly didn’t like was the doctor’s attitude.

(292) sound_loud_speaker You should try and look at the problem without adopting a doctor’s attitude.



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