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Which one of the following is correct regarding the possessive forms?

  1. "The effects of music therapy on students’ depression"

  2. "The effects of music therapy on student depression"

(Note: 100 students are recruited into the study)

marked as duplicate by Jim Reynolds, user3169, ColleenV, Nathan Tuggy, StoneyB Aug 12 '16 at 0:32

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    The second one is not a possessive but a compound noun made of two nouns. IMO the second one is better, as you would use "bus stop" instead of "bus' stop." englishclub.com/grammar/nouns-compound.htm – MorganFR Aug 11 '16 at 14:30
  • @MorganFR Shouldn't it be "on the student depression" ? – Cardinal Aug 11 '16 at 14:41
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    @Cardinal - No, I don't think an article is warranted here. There isn't one specific depression we're talking about, just depression of a given kind. – stangdon Aug 11 '16 at 15:28
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    @Cardinal "Depression" is an abstract noun, so a determiner is not necessary here. – user36764 Aug 11 '16 at 17:21
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    @Cardinal Yes, there is no need to mark an abstract noun like "depression" as definite. – user36764 Aug 11 '16 at 17:24

You might be looking for how to express this idea in casual conversation, and you might be using "student depression" merely as a quick example that came to mind, but most professionals writing a formal journal article about music therapy and student depression would entitle it along these lines:

The effect of music therapy on depression among students

that is, "among students" rather than "students' depression" or "student depression".

  • While your comment was useful. but my question is sth else. I would like to know about possessive forms in English if there are e.g. two or more nouns together like " human activities detection, computer networks security, stakeholders’ demands, ..." Now there are 2 questions for me: 1. which of them takes 's for possession? 2. if the noun (or nouns) before the last ones is plural, should we write it in plural form? for example "computer networks security" or "computer network security"? – morteza Aug 11 '16 at 16:37
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    @morteza. If that was your concern, you should have made it clearer in your question. There was no need to add that there were 100 students in the study if your question was not about studies but about the possessive plural in general. We typically say "The security of computer networks" or "computer network security", not "computer networks' security". For one reason, the plural possessive is indistinguishable from the plain plural, in speech: networks' – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 11 '16 at 18:55
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    In "human activity detection" and "computer network security", "human activity" and "computer network" are functionally adjectives, not nouns, and adjectives don't have a plural form in English. "Stakeholder demands" and "Stakeholders' demands" are both valid. In the first, "Stakeholder" is acting as an adjective, meaning to "all people who are stakeholders". In the second, it is a noun referring to a specific group of people which would be clear from the context, for example "the demands of the stakeholders in Company XYZ relating to its takeover by company ABC". – alephzero Aug 11 '16 at 19:16

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