Let's look at a few examples:

  • The history of the Titanic is marvelous.
  • The Titanic's history is marvelous.

And a few more:

  • The hull of this airplane is made of steel.
  • This airplane's hull is made of steel.

Which is preferable and most correct with objects, and which is with names?

1 Answer 1


First of all, both forms are correct. In American English they are certainly correct, but...

There are people—usually British—who'd say you cannot use the possessive 's with non-living things and can use only that with people.

For example I have a book, the New English File Elementary Student's Book, which teaches the so called Oxfordian English. In it on page 124 it has examples explaining how to use the possessive 's. Basically what it says is that you use it with people but don't use it with things. There's nothing about proper names and if you think about it, an object with a proper name is still a non-living thing.

According to that logic only the first from both of your examples are correct. But since not even the University of Oxford Style Guide says such things (it says "Use ’s after singular nouns, plural nouns which do not end in s and indefinite pronouns"), it doesn't really matter, it's up to you but keep your sentence clear and stay consistent.

  • That's untrue about BrE. The point is that "Descriptive genitives" are unusual in that they are a somewhat unproductive class. For example "a summer's Day" and "A Sainsbury's catalogue" are fine, but *"an autumn's day" and *"a school's doctor" are marginal.
    – BillJ
    Mar 24, 2017 at 8:27
  • It is untrue but still there are books from the Oxford University Press that claim it is and there are teachers who actually teach this to their students as a general rule. I don't know why and how. I looked up the Oxford Style Guide just to be certain, this "rule" is not there of course.
    – Korvin
    Mar 24, 2017 at 9:00

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