Fabulous Adventures In Coding
Eric Lippert is a principal developer on the C# compiler team. Learn more about Eric.
just wrote in a comment to my previous entry, "The ability to rate one's knowledge
of a subject accurately is strongly correlated with one's knowledge."
a minute. "One's"??? Word's
grammar checker didn't blink at that. But
nor does it blink at "ones". Well, according
to the OED, "one's" is the genitive declension
of "one". Let's sum up:
always thought that the reason that "its" doesn't take an apostrophe-s was because
the rule "add an apostrophe-s to form a possessive" applied
only to noun phrases, not to pronouns (And of course, we all know that apostrophe-s
does not itself form a genitive noun --
otherwise, in the sentence "The First Lady is the President of America's wife," Laura
Bush would be associated with America, not President Bush.)
the heck is going on here? Surely there
is some grammar pedant out there who can justify this. My
faith in English grammar has been sorely tried.
And my grammar teacher dared to wonder why I struggled in her class!
I am no grammar queen, but I would like to suggest that the Laura Bush sentence, "The First Lady is the President of America's wife," would be better stated another way: The wife of the President of the United States is called the First Lady. The First Lady is the wife of the President of the United States would also work. When there is that much of an issue involving what is modifying which, isn't it better to simply rewrite the sentence and try to eliminate the ambiguity?
I've never heard of presidents being referred to as the President of America, fwiw. The Canadians and Mexicans might object as they are North Americans. We are just plain Americans but he is called the President of the United States.
The newest comment is only more than three years old but what the hay!
One does not belong in the list of I, you , he etc. because one is an indefinite pronoun like somebody, anybody, everybody, nobody, while I, you , he are personal pronouns. Possessives of indefinite pronouns get "'s": somebody's, anybody's, everybody's, nobody's, one's, while possessives of personal pronouns do not: my, your, his, her, its, etc. Perhaps this is because the "'s" is an abbreviation of "his": the man's book, the man his book. Then you use that for indefinite pronouns: somebody his book becomes somebody's book, while you do not use that for personal pronouns: my book, his book, her book etc. Perhaps the same is valid for "The book is somebody's", "The book is ours"?
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_genitive for a discussion of the "his genitive".