The Vampire Diaries/The Carrie Diaries

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Babbit

Member
Italian
Well, I know the rules of possessive case, then I don't understand.
I'd write "The Vampire's Diaries/The Carrie's Diaries" or "The Diaries of Vampire/The Diaries of Carrie".

Since when is Vampire/Carrie an adjective?
Then I thought if I have a friend called Mary who has a diary, I can say "This is the Mary diary" instead of "This is the Mary's diary".
My American friend said it's not correct.
Why?
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    This doesn't refer to the possession of a diary by an individual. It means a particular genre/a specific category of diary. It's an adjective.

    What sort of diaries are these that have been turned into a film? -- They're vampire diaries.

    You might just as well say "They're ridiculous diaries/they're highly commercial diaries/they're adolescent diaries".
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    The two examples you cite - The Vampire Diaries and The Carrie Diaries - are examples of nouns being used as modifiers. The first is quite ordinary because vampire is a regular noun, and we do that sort of thing with regular nouns all the time: The Vampire Chronicles, the vampire lair, the vampire bat. This form would ordinarily be used when the reference isn't to one specific vampire but to vampires in general or to something vampire-like. If it was referring to a particular vampire, you'd normally write it in the possessive case, e.g., the vampire's castle.

    But using a proper name as a modifier is actually pretty unusual. The usual way to use a proper name as a modifier is, as you've noticed, in the possessive case, so the usual way to do this would be Carrie's Diaries (no "the") and Bridget Jones's Diary (again, no "the"). And that is certainly how I'd recommend referring to your friend Mary's diary, too: Mary's diary (again, no "the").

    However, the format of singular name+chronicle/saga/file/folder/case/etc. is sometimes used to refer to groups of documents all related to a single topic or person. Regular people going about their regular lives don't do this very much, which is why I wouldn't recommend it for your friend's diary, but you will from time to time run into book, magazine, TV and movie titles that play off this convention, e.g., The Forsythe Saga (a novel), The Holmes Report (an online publication for public relations professionals) and "Get me the Johnson file" (which is the sort of thing said by executives to their secretaries in old-fashioned movies).

    (Cross-posted with Keith.)
     
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