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I wrote a possessive sentence:

I'm using the well-educated chemistry teacher with Chinese eyes's computer.

I think this sentence is okay because I use 's to indicate possession. But if I use "of", is it also correct?

I'm using the computer of a well-educated chemistry teacher with Chinese eyes.

Which one is more appropriate?

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "well-educated Chemistry teacher with Chinese eyes". To me (non-native), it might be better to avoid a long phrase referring to a person with 's added. Perhaps, try "I'm using my teacher's computer. S/he is a well-educated Chemistry teacher with Chinese eyes." I'm sure many other native speakers around here can provide better suggestions. – Damkerng T. Dec 9 '13 at 15:22
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    They're both grammatical, but they're both very awkward. – snailcar Dec 9 '13 at 15:37
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    The problem is that in standard English it is not normal or correct to "make it look like a long phrase". The answer to your specific question is "they're both correct, but don't use either of them as they are". They throw too much information at the reader in one sentence, and both are ambiguous. I'll write up a detailed answer a little later if someone else doesn't first. – Jonathan Garber Dec 9 '13 at 15:37
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    It might be clearer for analysis to reduce your teacher to someone. In general you could use either a(n) X of someone's or someone's X. If your teacher is a woman, you can say either a computer of hers (note that hers) or her computer. If you want to emphasize that you use one of her many computers, you can use one of her computers. – Damkerng T. Dec 9 '13 at 15:38
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    May I suggest that you change the expression "with Chinese eyes" for "with almond shaped eyes". Not only will your phrase be longer, which was one of your aims, but also less ambiguous. – Mari-Lou A Dec 9 '13 at 21:46
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The answer is no; we cannot take the phrase

the well-educated chemistry teacher with Chinese eyes

and stick the possessive morpheme on it.

It's completely out of the question in writing (where that morpheme becomes apostrophe-s that ends up on the wrong noun). What you are doing there is ineffective and confusing even in informal writing, such as an e-mail between friends.

In spoken English, it's still extremely dodgy. Kindergarten age children do this sort of thing: "that's yucky, don't touch it; it's that dog with the big ears's chewing ball".

You can always put the possessive morpheme on noun phrases whose root noun appears in the rightmost position, where it then appears on the correct noun.

To get the noun in the rightmost position requires you to "refactor" the additional prepositional phrases into adjective phrases. For instance "with Chinese eyes" might become "Chinese-eyed".

the well-educated, Chinese-eyed chemistry teacher's computer

English-speaking kids learn this through correction. "Johnny, we don't say dog with the big 'earzes' ball! Try this: the big-eared dog's ball, hmm?"

Or else you just have to use "of". Using "of" for simple material belonging, however, is awkward. We rarely ever say "the computer of John" rather than "John's computer". It's not natural. Consider the alternative "belonging to".

The computer belonging to the well-educated chemistry teacher with the Chinese eyes.

However, please don't interpret this the wrong way: "X of Y" is used for simple belonging. Whether it is appropriate depends on the context. I won't get into it in this answer, but consider for instance that "I ran into Mrs. Hendry, wife of John Hendry, at the library" is fine, but "I heard the wife of John Hendry left him" is unnatural would be expressed as "I heard John Hendry's wife left him".

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    So you think "the King of England's hat" is wrong? – snailcar Dec 9 '13 at 19:11
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    I disagree; "The dog with the big ears's ball" is exactly what we do say. It's perfectly grammatical. It does not however always translate transparently to the written language, so it's a good idea to modify it there by using a participle phrase. – StoneyB Dec 9 '13 at 19:45
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    @snailboat Hmm. King of England's hat vs. King of England's enemy. Ambiguity aside (resolved obviously), it's not any more wrong than "the mother of pearl's lustre", or "that son of a bitch's car". I'm not sure whether it doesn't have to do with the "of" phrase being a title or canned phrase. The complexity of the phrase could be a factor. How about "the King of the land over those yonder hills and beyond the seven rivers where there freely roam unicorns's hat". Then again, we can't rule sentences ungrammatical because of size. Then again, I didn't say it was ungrammatical, but "dodgy". – Kaz Dec 9 '13 at 23:55
  • @ Kaz I like the examples which you gave. It's useful for my writing. – nkm Dec 10 '13 at 4:57
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Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: Your example shows exactly why. Using the apostrophe here makes the sentence difficult to understand. On first reading I thought it meant, "I am using the well-educated chemistry teacher and I am also using the computer with Chinese eyes." That doesn't make a lot of sense, but that was how I read it. The sentence reads much batter if cast to use an "of".


Update: Let me add: The problem with the apostrophe version is that because the description of the person is so long, the sentence is awkward. It becomes unclear just whor or what owns the computer. Replacing the apostrophe with the "of" form helps a lot, though the phrase is still long and complex enough to be potentially awkward.

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