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Articles with Countable Nouns Modified by Nouns in the Genitive Case
Genitive TypeThe Specifying Genitive
denotes a particular person or thing.
He didn’t quite like the fellow’s manner.
(the man’s voice, the boys’ books,
X Robert’s books)
She is a neighbour’s daughter.
There must be some poison in lions’ / a lion’s teeth.
The poet’s talent is born with him.
(Whose manner, voice, books etc.?)
Note: These phrases may usually be substituted for by an ‘of’-phrase.
The Classifying (= Descriptive) Genitive
Refers to a whole class of objects, to give additional characteristics to the head-noun.
(*Similar to the use of adjectives).
a children’s book
a mile’s distance
a doctor’s degree
(What kind of book etc.?)
Note: These phrases cannot be substituted for by an ‘of’-phrase.
Reference of the Article The article refers to the noun in the genitive case (GC).
The noun in the GC functions as a determiner to the head-noun.
a) The noun in the GC comes first in the noun phrase.
b) It cannot be preceded by other attributes referring to the head-noun (they all follow the noun in the GC).
the girl’s new English text-book
the little girl’s (new English) text-book
They saw the old woman’s house in the clearing before them.The article refers to the head-noun in the common case.
The noun in the GC does not function as a determiner to the head-noun. It serves as a descriptive attribute to the head-noun.
a) It may be preceded by other attributes referring to the head-noun.
What a beautiful doll’s house!
The expensive widow’s weeds only emphasized her prettiness.
Have a good night’s rest.Choice of ArticlesThe article is chosen in accordance with the general rules before the noun in the GC.
Note: There is no article before:
a) a proper noun
b) an adverb
yesterday’s concertThe articles are chosen in accordance with the general rules before the head-noun in the common case.
a soldiers’ canteen
a three miles’ walk