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41. Possessive case; rule. The possessive case denotes possession or a similar relation (genitive, §§ 604, 606). In the singular number nouns regularly form their possessive case by adding 's; in the plural, by adding the apostrophe (') when the plural ends in s, and by adding 's when the plural does not end in s (this rule, adopted by the Oxford University Press, is in accordance with the best usage, and prevents confusion of singular and plural forms; for exceptions, see §§ 42, 43):

1. Singular: girl, girl's; Davis, Davis's; man, man's; manservant, manservant's; son-in-law, son-in-law's; Knight Templar, Knight Templar's; year, a one year's course (§§ 46, 502, N. I).

2. Plural: girls, girls'; Davises, Davises'; men, men's; menservants, menservants'; sons-in-law, sons-in-law's; Knights Templars, Knights Templars'; years, a four years' course.

NOTE. The irregular expression 'savings bank' is owing to confusion; the original form is 'saving bank' (= a bank for saving), in which saving is a gerund (§§ 215, 227).

The rule for the formation of the possessive case applies to modern proper names, whether English or foreign, and to ancient names (except as noted in §§ 42, 43):

1. Burns's, Charles's, Cox's, Fritz's, Hans's, Hicks's, James's, Jones's, Mars's, Marx's, Reuss's, Vaux's, Voss's, Zeus's.

2. Augustus's, Bardoux's, Burroughs's, the Countess's, Cousins's, Darius's, Davis's, Dickens's, the Duchess's, Dumas's (Dumas is pronounced dü ́mà', § 423; Dumas's is pronounced dü ́maz'), Edwards's, Francis's, Lewis's, Louis's, Marcus's, Harry Moses's, the Princess's (§ 432), Venus's.

3. Cassius's, Junius's, Pamphilius's, Theophilus's.

42. Exceptions to rule. Ancient proper names ending in es usually form their possessive case (genitive, §§ 604, 606) by adding the apostrophe only; so, also, the name Jesus, and a few words like conscience in for conscience' sake; it is often better to use a phrase with of:

1. Moses' law, Achilles' friend, Aristides' house, Ceres' daughter, Xerxes' soldiers, Demosthenes' orations.

2. Jesus' disciples, for conscience' (goodness', or righteousness') sake.

3. Phrases with of: the law of Moses, the friend of Achilles, the house of Aristides, etc.

43. Freedom in poetry. In poetry the meter often determines the use or the omission of the s:

You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.


44. Joint ownership. In joint ownership the sign of the possessive case is added to the last name only:

1. Ray and French's bookstore; Smith, Nye, and Elder's office; Davy and Davy's logic; Frank and Mary's horse; at the time of father and mother's last visit; Soldiers and Sailors' Home.

2. But, Spenser's and Milton's spelling; Frank's and Mary's studies.

45. Noun omitted after possessive. When the meaning is clear, a noun following a noun in the possessive case (genitive, §§ 604, 606) is often omitted; the third and fourth examples are idiomatic variations of this usage (possession being shown both by the possessive and by of):

1. They are visiting at Mary's [home].

2. The time came for my leaving Doctor Strong's [school].DICKENS.

3. I was a pupil of Doctor Strong's.

of Doctor Strong's pupils.)

DICKENS. (= I was one

4. That tongue of Bob's (or of his) is ever wagging.

46. Misuse of possessive. Neuter nouns (§ 18) seldom admit of the possessive case (genitive, §§ 604, 606), but use a phrase with of instead. The correct use of the possessive of neuters is illustrated by the following examples of wellestablished idioms; the incorrect use is illustrated below these:

The moon's light; the earth's shadow; the world's progress; the sun's rays; heaven's gate; the ship's wheel; the water's edge; for convenience' sake; for honor's sake; for pity's sake; at swords' points; their journey's end; the cannon's roar; the mind's eye; to his heart's content; the law's delay; the day's work; today's papers; two years' time; a moment's notice; a stone's throw; an hour's repose; by a boat's length; ten cents' worth.

NOTE. Sometimes either the possessive form or the uninflected form of a noun may be used as an adjective, with a difference of meaning; in such cases the uninflected form generalizes or characterizes the world's literature (= the literature existing in the world), world literature (= literature touching all mankind, not confined to race, nationality, or creed); schoolboys' tales, schoolboy tales. The possessive case should not be substituted for such phrases as the following:

1. The legs of the table.
2. The seat of the chair.
3. The top of the desk.

4. The veto of the bill.

(Not 'The table's legs'.) (Not 'The chair's seat '.) (Not 'The desk's top '.)

(Not 'The bill's veto'; see § 225, 10.)

5. The parts of the verb. (Not 'The verb's parts'.)

6. The end of the chapter. (Not 'The chapter's end'.) 7. The rules of the university. (Not 'The university's rules'.) 8. The products of Europe. (Not 'Europe's products '.) 9. The streets of Lexington. (Not 'Lexington's streets'.) 10. Essays in the Atlantic Monthly. (Not 'Atlantic's essays '.) 11. The queen of Scotland. (Not Scotland's queen in poetry.)


47. Appositive; apposition. A noun may be added to another noun or a pronoun to explain it. A noun so used is called an appositive of the noun or pronoun which it explains, or is said to be in apposition with it, and is in the same case (for the punctuation, see § 50):

1. Your brother Tom came early. (Tom explains brother by telling which brother is meant.)

2. Miss Davis, the secretary. (Secretary explains Miss Davis.)

3. In her own home, the country, Nature is sweet in all her moods. (Country explains home.)

4. I, your father, ask you. (Father explains I.)

5. They each claim the prize. (Each is in apposition with a part of they, and is called a partitive appositive.)

NOTE. A phrase or a clause (§§ 6, 7) may be used as an appositive: 1. The owner, Mr. William Lane, was away.

2. He had one desire, that he might sleep.

48. Appositive in possessive case. A noun in apposition with a possessive (genitive, §§ 604, 606) receives the sign of possession ('s), which is omitted from the other noun; when the meaning is clear, the noun following the appositive is often omitted; awkward and obscure possessive phrases should be avoided (for the punctuation, see § 50):

1. My sister Jane's pony. (Not My sister's Jane's pony'.) 2. The boys were at Uncle John's (home, farm, or the like). 3. At dinner at our friend Sir Joshua Reynolds's. BOSWELL. 4. The father of Bartlett the bookseller. (Clearer than 'Bartlett the bookseller's father '.)

NOTE. When an appositive is added by way of explanation, being emphatic and set off by a comma, the first noun receives the sign of possession: Johnson and I passed the evening at Miss Reynolds's, Sir Joshua's sister. - Boswell.

49. Apposition denoted by phrase with of. Apposition is often denoted by a phrase with of:

The city of Rome (= the city Rome); the month of April.

50. Essential and nonessential appositive. When a word, phrase, or clause used in apposition is needed to define the meaning of the noun or pronoun which it modifies, it is an essential appositive, and is not separated from the rest of the sentence; when it is not so needed, it is a nonessential appositive, and is separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma or commas (see §§ 92, 270, 472, 489):

1. My cousin Fred lives here. (Essential.)

My only cousin, Fred Brown, lives here. (Nonessential.) 2. Mary Queen of Scots; Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. 3. Doctor Edward Fowler, Vicar of Saint Giles's.


4. War was therefore at once declared against the two most venerable corporations of the realm, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.


5. The spirit of Francis Bacon was abroad, a spirit admirably compounded of audacity and sobriety. — MACAULay.

6. He offered Rochester a simple choice, to pronounce the Bishop guilty, or to quit the Treasury. MACAULAY.

7. The thought that he might be late made him uneasy.

His first thought, that he might be late, made him uneasy.

51. Adverbial noun. A noun, or a noun with an adjective, is frequently used adverbially (§ 252):

1. They waited months. (Modifies verb waited.)

2. She sighed many times. (Modifies verb sighed.)

3. He began a week ago. (Modifies adverb ago.)

4. It is worth a fortune. (Modifies adjective worth.)

5. The pony is three years old. (Modifies adjective old.)

6. They came this way. (Modifies verb came.)

7. This pencil cost five cents. (Modifies verb cost.)

8. We fished all night (day, winter, July, etc., of definite portions of time); but, with the, all the morning (the afternoon, the week, etc., of indefinite portions of time). (Modifies verb fished.)

52. Time when, etc. The time when or within which an event takes place is usually expressed by a prepositional phrase; in particular, a preposition is regularly used with the days of the month (and the days of the week unless modified by next, last, or the like):

1. On this particular morning; on the following day.

2. What did you receive at Christmas?

3. He was born on the tenth of July; on Friday, the tenth of July (here the preposition on is not repeated with the appositive tenth).

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