There seems to be a common belief that the possessive form should only ever be used for animate objects. That is, of course, complete bollocks.
Today I received a translation back from a non-native client with multiple “corrections” into Dunglish. You’d be amazed at how often that occurs. And not for the first time, I was informed that I shouldn’t use the genitive/possessive (the form with an apostrophe) for inanimate or abstract objects. Um, right.
- The car’s fuel consumption
- The report’s conclusion
- Belgium’s coal mines
- The Earth’s atmosphere
- … just how many examples do we need?
This is following on from a (presumably well-intentioned) e-mail after the post on The muscles of the legs of the sprinter a week or so ago, expressing this particular myth as one reason for the using “of the” everywhere.
Prevalence: very high. Many Dutch writers will prefer the long-winded “of the” when it’s quite unnecessary, no matter what the context.
Frequency: very high. One of the commonest things I need to change when editing.
Native: hmm. I’ll accept that there’s a tendency to use “of the” somewhat more in formal writing, but the possessive certainly isn’t a spoken form only.