the possessive case

Hi! As far as I can remember, I’ve been taught that the possessive case (saxon genitive) can be used only when the owner is a person, an animal, a country or town as well as in temporal expressions. And I’m pretty sure my grammar book says this way… But this morning i read a strange possessive case in a magazine: “stone’s throw”. I know this is an idiom, but why is it correct whereas a stone is a thing? Unless the form ” ‘s” would mean “is”… but it would be a little unusual. All the best. Diego

Some grammar books say that one may not form a possessive of an inanimate object using ‘s. This is nonsense, as you can see in your own example. Plus, using the term genitive case rather than possessive case will help you avoid the myth that the marker ‘s cannot be used with inanimate objects. The genitive case has always had many more purposes than simply indicating possession, and descriptive (and other nonpossessive) genitives are and have always been Standard English.” Examples: the mountain’s top, a day’s pay.

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2 Responses to “the possessive case”

  1. Hi Diego,

    a little more information…this example of genitive is probbly part of an idiomatic phrase, a stone’s throw away, which means that something is within a short distance.
    As a child my school was a stone’s throw away from (very close to) my house.


  2. A big thank you to the staff! I guess I’ll throw my grammar books away…
    As far as the Gemma’s consideration is concerned,i said in my question that I knew this was an idiom. The problem was that all the grammar books I referred to were emphatic in stating that the possessive case is used only when the owner is a person, an animal, a country (or town) as well as in temporal expressions.

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