日本人英文法の意外な穴

帝京大学教授で、ルミナス英和辞典(研究社)をはじめとする英語辞書編纂にも多く関わってこられたクリストファ・バーナード先生が月3~4回、語法、語彙を含めた広い意味での英文法の様々なトピックを解説します。

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129. "-s", or "of" ? (Part 1)

129. "-s", or "of" ? (Part 1) 

It is often difficult for learners of English to know whether to use "-s" or "of", as in expressions like this:
our team's victory vs. the victory of our team.

There is a lot of overlap between these two expressions, but in this Column and the one following this (Column 130) I will present the main rules.

To start with, there is a very general rule to the effect that when the "possessor" is a human being, we use "-s":
1) Mary's pen
2) the girl's toy

A further rule is that the closer the possessor is to being a human being, the more likely "-s" will be used.

For example, when "Japan" is seen as "an area or land", we would use "of", as in the following:
3) a map of Japan
4) the mountains of Japan

However, when "Japan" is seen as "a group of human beings / a society" we are more likely to use "-s", as in the following:
5) Japan's aid to foreign countries 日本の海外援助
6) Japan's hosting of a marathon 日本によるマラソンの主催(日本主催のマラソン)

In the following examples, we can use either "-s" or "of". As can be seen from the examples, these are borderline cases, in which "Japan" is perhaps an area, or perhaps a group of human beings:
7) Japan's economy > of
8) Japan's ancient customs > of
9) Japan's transport network > of 日本の交通網
10) Japan's constitution > of 日本の憲法

In the next Column I will give a list of types of nouns which use "-s" in the possessive.


◆NOTES◆
To start with:まず第一に
to the effect that ...:...という趣旨の
the possessor:所有者
a borderline case:どっちつかずの状態、中間的な場合
the closer the possessor is to being a human being:所有者が人間に近ければ近いほど<the possessor is closer to being a human being(「the -er ..., the -er ~:...すればするほど、それだけ~」のパターン)
be seen as ~:~と見なされる
either A or B:AもBも
As can be seen from ~:~からわかるように




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