1 When I say "This is a pig's trough.", so is the word "a" describing or attached to "pig" or "trough"?

2 When I say "This is the pigs' trough.", so is the word "the" describing or attached to "pigs" or "trough"?

3 When I say "These are the women's wallets.", so is the word "the" describing or attached to "women" or "wallets"?

 

Thanks!

Original Post

Hi, Kimconu,

Interesting question!

"A pig's trough" can be parsed as [a [pig's trough]] (i.e., a trough of the sort that pigs use) -- where the article introduces "pigs trough" as a unit -- or as[[a pig]'s trough] (i.e., the trough of a particular pig) -- where the article introduces the singular noun to which the possessive morpheme is attached. I would parse "The pigs' trough" in the second manner, but it could be parsed in the first.

"The women's wallets" can be parsed as [the [women's wallets]] (i.e., wallets of the sort that women use; feminine wallets) -- where the article introduces "women's wallets" as a unit -- or as [the women]'s wallets] (i.e., the wallets belonging to a specific set of women) -- where the article introduces the plural noun to which the possessive morpheme is attached.

P.S. I've changed the title of the thread from "Can you help me explain this?" to "possessives," so that visitors might have a clue as to what the thread is about.

David, Moderator posted:

Hi, Kimconu,

Interesting question!

"A pig's trough" can be parsed as [a [pig's trough]] (i.e., a trough of the sort that pigs use) -- where the article introduces "pigs trough" as a unit -- or as[[a pig]'s trough] (i.e., the trough of a particular pig) -- where the article introduces the singular noun to which the possessive morpheme is attached. I would parse "The pigs' trough" in the second manner, but it could be parsed in the first.

"The women's wallets" can be parsed as [the [women's wallets]] (i.e., wallets of the sort that women use; feminine wallets) -- where the article introduces "women's wallets" as a unit -- or as [the women]'s wallets] (i.e., the wallets belonging to a specific set of women) -- where the article introduces the plural noun to which the possessive morpheme is attached.

P.S. I've changed the title of the thread from "Can you help me explain this?" to "possessives," so that visitors might have a clue as to what the thread is about.

So am I correct?

 

1 When you say about a bird in general, you say "This is a feather of a bird", you can also say "This is a bird's feather".

a. So when you say "These are feathers of a bird", so will you say "These are bird's feathers" or "These are a bird's feathers"?

b. You will not say "This is a cage of birds / This is a birds' cage", because there is not a cage belong to all birds in the world, right?

2 When you say about a bird in particular (the bird you bought yesterday), you say "This is the cage of the bird", you can also say "This is the bird's cage".

a. So when you say "These are the cages of the bird" (several cages for one bird), will you say "These are bird's cages"?

b. So when you say "This is the cage of the birds (the birds you bought yesterday / one cage of those birds)", so would you say "This is the birds' cage"?


3. When you say about a man in general, you say "This is a wallet of a man" / "This is a man's wallet", you can also say "These are wallets of men. / These are men's wallets.".

But you will not say "This is a wallet of men. / This is a men's wallet." because there is not a wallet belong to all men in the world, right?

4. But when you say about a men in particular (the man you told to me yesterday):

a. You can say "These are the wallets of the man." / These are the man's wallets.", right?

b. And if those are some men, you can say "This is a wallet of the men." / "This is a men's wallet.", right?

 

Thanks!

I agree with David that this is an interesting topic, Kimconu.

1.a. So when you say "These are feathers of a bird", so will you say "These are bird's feathers" or "These are a bird's feathers"?

Since you haven't said "These are the feathers of a bird," I understand you want to refer to "bird's feathers" in a generic way, not to "a bird's feathers" (used to refer to the feathers of a specific bird).

1.b. You will not say "This is a cage of birds / This is a birds' cage", because there is not a cage belonging to all birds in the world, right?

"This is a birds' cage" is correct, meaning "a cage for birds." The plural does not refer to all the birds in the world, but to birds in general, and is therefore generic.

2.a. So when you say "These are the cages of the bird" (several cages for one bird), will you say "These are bird's cages"?

No, you have to say "the bird's cages" (the cages of one particular bird).

2.b. So when you say "This is the cage of the birds (the birds you bought yesterday / one cage of those birds)", so would you say "This is the birds' cage"?

Yes, that's correct.

3. But you will not say "This is a wallet of men. / This is a men's wallet." because there is not a wallet belong to all men in the world, right?

"This is a men's wallet" is correct. It means "a wallet for men" (generic use similar to "a birds' cage").

4.a. You can say "These are the wallets of the man." / These are the man's wallets.", right?

Yes, that's correct.

4.b. And if those are some men, you can say "This is a wallet of the men." / "This is a men's wallet.", right?

No, you should say: "This is the men's wallet" (to refer to a wallet owned by several men).

Therefore, the article before a noun phrase in the genitive case can refer:

A. to the owner
B. to the possession

If the meaning intended to be conveyed is specific, the article will refer to the owner:

A.1. a man's wallet (the wallet of a certain man)
A.2. a man's wallets (the wallets of a certain man)
A.3. the man's wallet (the wallet of the mentioned man)
A.4. the man's wallets (the wallets of the mentioned man)

If the meaning intended to be conveyed is generic, then the article will refer to the possession (the thing possessed):

B.1. birds' cage (a cage for birds)
B.2. a bird's feather (a feather of a bird -- any bird)
B.3. the birds' cage (the cage for birds)
B.4. the bird's feathers (the feathers of a bird -- any bird)

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

 

If the meaning intended to be conveyed is specific, the article will refer to the owner:

A.1. a man's wallet (the wallet of a certain man)
A.2. a man's wallets (the wallets of a certain man)

 

So when I say about a bag (or bags) of some certain men, can I say:

These are some men's bag. / These are men's bag. 

These are some men's bags. / These are men's bags.

Thank you for all your help!

Kimconu posted: 

So when I say about a bag (or bags) of some certain men, can I say:

These are some men's bag. / These are men's bag. 

These are some men's bags. / These are men's bags.

*These are (some) men's bag  is incorrect. It should be: This is some men's bag (a bag belonging to some men) / This is a men's bag (a bag for men).

In the plural:

These are some men's bags.

as explained by David in his first post on this thread when he parsed "the women's wallets," "some" may refer to "men" or to "bags": bags belonging to some men or some bags of the type men use.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:
Kimconu posted:  ...
 

Am I correct with this summary?

I. Say about people:

I. 1. When we say about a certain man or some certain men, we say:

a This is a man’s wallet. He is working over there.

b These are a man’s wallets. He is working over there.

c This is some men’s wallet. They are working over there. (In this case, we don’t say “This is men’s wallet.” Because men = all men, so the word “men” will be a general noun )

d These are some men’s wallets. They are working over there. (In this case, we don’t say “These are men’s wallets.” Because men = all men, so the word “men” will be a general noun)

 

I. 2. When we say about a particular man or particular men using the word “the”, we say:

a I met a man and a woman last night and this is the man’s wallet.

b I met a man and a woman last night and these are the man’s wallets.

c I met some men and a woman last night and this is the men’s wallet.

d I met some men and a woman last night and these are the men’s wallets.

 

 

I. 3. When we say about a general man or general men, we say:

a This is a man’s wallet.

b These are (some) man’s wallets.

c This is a men’s wallet.

d These are (some) men’s wallets.

 

e This is the man’s wallet.

f These are the man’s wallets.

g This is the men’s wallet.

h These are the men’s wallets.

 

II. Say about birds:

II. 1. When we say about a certain bird or some certain bird, we say:

a This is a bird’s cage. It was dead yesterday.

b These are a bird’s cages. It was dead yesterday.

c This is some birds’ cage. They were dead yesterday. (In this case, we don’t say “This is birds’ cage.” Because birds = all birds, so the word “birds” will be a general noun )

d These are some birds’ cages. They were dead yesterday. (In this case, we don’t say “These are birds’ cages.” Because birds = all birds, so the word “birds” will be a general noun)

 

II. 2. When we say about a particular bird or particular bird using the word “the”, we say:

a I bought a dog and a bird yesterday and this is the bird’s cage.

b I bought a dog and a bird yesterday and these are the bird’s cages.

c I bought a dog and some bird yesterday and this is the birds’ cage.

d I bought a dog and some bird yesterday and these are the birds’ cages.

 

II. 3. When we say about a general bird or general birds, we say:

a This is a bird’s cage.

b These are (some) bird’s cages.

c This is a birds’ cage.

d These are (some) birds’ cages.

 

e This is the bird’s cage.

f These are the bird’s cages.

g This is the birds’ cage.

h These are the birds’ cages.

 

Thank you for all your help! I hope it's not wrong.

Kimconu posted:

Am I correct with this summary? My answers or remarks about the genitive case in blue (corrections in this color):

I. Speaking (this correction applies to similar mistakes below) about people:

I. 1. When we speak (idem) about a certain man or some certain men, we say:

a This is a man’s wallet. He is working over there.

b These are a man’s wallets. He is working over there.

c This is some men’s wallet. They are working over there. (In this case, we don’t say “This is men’s wallet.” Because men = all men, so the word “men” will be a general noun ) a wallet belonging to some men

d These are some men’s wallets. They are working over there. (In this case, we don’t say “These are men’s wallets.” Because men = all men, so the word “men” will be a general noun) wallets belonging to some men

I. 2. When we say about a particular man or particular men using the word “the”, we say:

a I met a man and a woman last night and this is the man’s wallet.

b I met a man and a woman last night and these are the man’s wallets.

c I met some men and a woman last night and this is the men’s wallet.

d I met some men and a woman last night and these are the men’s wallets.

So far, so good. 

I. 3. When we say about a general man or general men, we say:

a This is a man’s wallet.

b These are (some) man’s wallets.

c This is a men’s wallet.

d These are (some) men’s wallets.

e This is the man’s wallet.

f These are the man’s wallets.

g This is the men’s wallet.

h These are the men’s wallets.

For typification, you can in fact use "man's" or "men's" indistinctly, irrespective of whether you refer to one or more wallets. (Do you agree, David?)

II. Say about birds:

II. 1. When we say about a certain bird or some certain bird, we say:

a This is a bird’s cage. It died yesterday.

b These are a bird’s cages. It died yesterday.

c This is some birds’ cage. They died yesterday. (In this case, we don’t say “This is birds’ cage.” Because birds = all birds, so the word “birds” will be a general noun )

d These are some birds’ cages. They died yesterday. (In this case, we don’t say “These are birds’ cages.” Because birds = all birds, so the word “birds” will be a general noun)

 

II. 2. When we say about a particular bird or particular bird using the word “the”, we say:

a I bought a dog and a bird yesterday and this is the bird’s cage.

b I bought a dog and a bird yesterday and these are the bird’s cages.

c I bought a dog and some birds yesterday and this is the birds’ cage.

d I bought a dog and some birds yesterday and these are the birds’ cages.

 

II. 3. When we say about a general bird or general birds, we say:

a This is a bird’s cage.

b These are (some) bird’s cages.

c This is a birds’ cage.

d These are (some) birds’ cages.

e This is the bird’s cage.

f These are the bird’s cages.

g This is the birds’ cage.

h These are the birds’ cages.

Same comment about typification applies to the sentences above.  

Thank you for all your help! I hope it's not wrong.

My general comments above. I think you've understood the topic.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:
Kimconu posted:

Am I correct with this summary? My answers or remarks about the genitive case in blue (corrections in this color):

 

...

My general comments above. I think you've understood the topic.

Thank you all your help!

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