Possessive grammar relations


New Member
Portuguese - Brazil
Hi there!

I would like to ask you, especially English native speakers, to clarify this doubt that I always have concerning the use of possessive relations between words in sentences.

I have this quote from a translation job I am doing now, to exemplify the kind of case I am talking about.
It’s a text that talks about a computer software.

In this example:

Substitute Item Revision Date”

would it be possibile to use other possessive relations?

Would it be correct to say, for example,

Substitute Item’s Revision Date


Revision Date of (the) Substitute Item?

Why do we use “´s” as possessive in some cases, “of” with a possessive value in other cases, and, sometimes, none of them?
Are there any rules for theses usages?

I would really appreciate your help!

Thanks a lot,

  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I have only the vaguest idea of what a substitute item revision date might be, so I think it would be better to use a much simpler illustration than yours to discuss this issue, mfpicano.

    What is the difference between
    1. the chicken's house and
    2. the chicken house?

    1. Builds a transient relationship between this chicken and this house. The chicken could live in my house today and yours tomorrow.

    2. Creates a concept, and gives it a name. The chicken house that the speaker has in mind is likely to conform to conventional notions of the kind of house that chickens live in.

    Having said that, in many cases the difference betwen genitive structures and noun modifier structures is one of habitual usage, rather than following any rule. A bird's nest is a concept that follows a well defined plan, but still we don't usually refer to a bird nest.

    Linking two nouns with of can be done to avoid an identified problem - an ambiguity of other clumsiness - caused by options 1 or 2. It can also give a grand or literary nuance - compare New York gangs with Gangs of New York.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    British English
    “Substitute Item Revision Date”
    The problem with this is that, without context it is ambiguous. It could mean.

    "The revision date for the substitute-item"
    "The substitute date for (the process of) Item-Revision"

    The second of these makes more sense. However neither phrase involves a possessive as far as I can see.
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