building/building's fire escape route

EdisonBhola

Senior Member
Korean
Hi all, in the following sentence, would you say the apostrophe s after "building" is necessary?

"Don't block the building's fire escape route."

I know I can escape the problem by writing "the fire escape route of the building" instead, but for learning purpose, I really want to know if both "building fire escape route" and "building's fire escape route" are equally correct.

Thank you so much!
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    1. Edison, why do you need the word "building" in the example of #1? Might this fire escape route be confused with another one that is not for a building?

    2. The question does, though, raise the interesting question of the difference between a gerund + noun combination and a noun modifier + noun combination.

    3. When you create a noun modifier + noun combination you are creating a new term, almost a new noun, to create a new permanent concept in the mind. So "building fire excape route" is a category of architectural structure. If you are writing the first ever book about them, you might call it "Building Fire Escape Routes".

    4. On the other hand, the genitive brings together the two noun for the present temporary purpose.

    5. While both are possible in the example of #1, in practice, I would probably use the genitive. You are not asking the reader to consider the features that all building fire escape routes have in common; moreover the noun modifier + noun modifier + noun modifier + noun structure "building fire escape route" is a bit of a mouthful.
     
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    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    You are asking about the difference between a gerund + noun combination and a noun modifier + noun combination.

    When you create a noun modifier + noun combination you are creating a new term, almost a new noun, to create a new permanent concept in the mind. So "building fire excape route" is a category of architectural structure. If you are writing the first ever book about them, you might call it "Building Fire Escape Routes".

    On the other hand, the genitive brings together the two noun for the present temporary purpose.

    While both are possible in the example of #1, in practice, I would probably use the genitive. You are not asking the reader to consider the features that all building fire escape routes have in common; moreover the noun modifier + noun modifier + noun modifier + noun structure "building fire escape route" is a bit of a mouthful.
    If we consider a similar construction: school sports day. Am I right in saying that "school's sports day" and "school sports day" are both correct, but "school's sports day" is less of a mouthful and therefore preferred?
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If we consider a similar construction: school sports day. Am I right in saying that "school's sports day" and "school sports day" are both correct, but "school's sports day" is less of a mouthful and therefore preferred?
    No, "school sports day" (3 nouns) is less of a mouthful than "building fire escape route" (4 nouns); and you have ignored the semantic considerations I tried to explain in my paras 3 and 4 of my post #3.

    The question is: are you talking about school sports days as a general concept, or about one example of that general concept, or about a particular school's particular sports day? You have to decide (or just do as they did at last year's sports day!)
     
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    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    After some digestion, I think I get what you mean now. For example, "car doors" vs "car's doors".

    Car doors: a generic reference to the doors of any car.
    Car's doors: the doors of a particular car, for example, the one my dad owns.

    Am I right? :)
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    To get back to the original question, "the building's fire escape route" sounds wrong to me for another reason.

    Buildings may have fire escapes: special doors, designated stairwells, or metal ladder-and-platform structures attached to the exterior of a older multi-story buildings. People have fire escape routes: their pre-determined path of travel to an exit in case of emergency.
     

    Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    1.
    ...

    So "building fire excape route" is a category of architectural structure. If you are writing the first ever book about them, you might call it "Building Fire Escape Routes".
    You would sell lots of your books to those who want to know how to build fire escape routes. 'Building' as another book in the series, 'Building Retaining Walls'.
     

    Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    If there was a sign in a building which said, "Don't block the building's fire escape route", assuming it was a necessary sign, it would be understood by almost everyone and is correctly worded and punctuated. To me it seems straightforward and unambiguous.

    Actually, it would probably say, "DO NOT BLOCK THE BUILDING'S FIRE ESCAPE ROUTE"
     
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