What do they mean? And which is correct?

1.The penguin's natural habitat is in polar regions.
2. The penguins' natural habitat is in the polar regions.
3. Penguin's natural habitat is in the polar regions.
4. Penguins' natural habitat is in the polar regions.

thanks a lot

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Original Post
1. "The penguin" in this sentence means the generic class of penguin. "The penguin's" is correct.
2. "The penguins" in this sentence means a particular group of penguins, a group that has already been identified. "The penguins" is correct to identify this group of penguins, but not generic penguins.

Sentences 3 and 4 are not correct.

Rachel

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thanks for your reply. But as i know, 'penguins ' can mean the generic class of penguin. Why is it incorrect in this sentence?
And is 'a penguin's ' correct here?


thanks
It is not usual to use a singular count noun (habitat) with the plural possessive noun (penguins') as generic.

Plural count nouns are not used in the possessive form without an article when the possessive noun modifies a singular count noun.

We would NOT say, for example, to refer to the generic "policemen":

Policemen's life is not a happy one.

We would say, instead:

The policeman's life is not a happy one
or
A policeman's life is not a happy one.
or
The life of a policeman is not a happy one.
And
Policemen's lives (plural count noun) are not happy.

We would NOT say, to refer to the generic "citizens":

Protecting citizens' right to privacy is all-important.

We would say instead:

Protecting a citizen's right to privacy is all-important
or
Protecting the citizen's right to privacy is all-important
or
Protecting the citizens' right to privacy is all-important.
And
Protecting citizens' rights (plural) to privacy and other matters is all-important.

So, your sentences about penguins -- used in the generic sense of penguins -- could be:

1. The penguin's natural habitat is in polar regions.
2. A penguin's natural habitat is in the polar regions. (Yes, in answer to your question.)
3. The natural habitat of penguins is in the polar regions.
4. Penguins' natural habitatS ARE in the polar regions. (While the word "habitats" itself seems awkward here, it is possible, and is illustrative to show that plural head nouns can go with plural possessive nouns.)

Rachel

Last edited {1}

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