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Back in school I learned about the Saxon genitive, but I see it's rarely used in both written and spoken English. Is it true? Should I avoid to use it? It seems to me that it's more common when I'm talking about things belonging to someone.

Example 1: "This is Joe's car", not "This is the car of Joe"
Example 2: "This matches our company values", not "This matches the values of our company"

Is my interpretation correct? Is there any other nuance I'm not getting? Something like one being more formal or one being more commonly used in spoken language

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  • This matches our company values
    – mplungjan
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 10:08

2 Answers 2

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Good discussions of this are here and here. I'd like to touch on a few topics

  • "This matches our company values." GOOD
  • "This matches our company's values." ALSO GOOD
  • "This matches the values of our company." ALSO GOOD

Note that "company values" is ok. The third option isn't more formal in terms of English register, it's just stylistically different. Some people might consider it more formal though. Also, note:

  • "The leg of the table is broken." GOOD
  • "The table's leg is broken." GOOD

Some prescriptivists might object to the second sentence above since a table isn't a person. I recall being taught this same rule at least once. But the people over at https://english.stackexchange.com have addressed this, mostly debunking it. Still, if your teacher or boss or editor doesn't like it, stick with what they say. Also, my own take on this is American English.

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    Show me a person who prefers "the leg of the table is broken" and I'll show you someone who isn't an editor... Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 13:14
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Somewhere I had read. I don't remember the source but it was authentic for sure.

When the possession belongs to an animated object, apostrophe is common.

This is Joe's car.

But, for inanimate objects, the preposition will look much natural.

The leg of the table is broken.

In your case, companies are group of people and often considered as a living entity.

This matches our company values.


Got the reference: Cambridge Dictionary

We don’t usually use the possessive ’s with things:

the door handle NOT the door’s handle

the shop window NOT the shop’s window

the kitchen table NOT the kitchen’s table

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  • Wait... if you said that companies are considered as a living entity, shouldn't it be like in the first example (animated object)? So This matches our company's values
    – Naigel
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 10:35
  • @MaulikV ok so it should anyway be This matches our company's values with the Saxon genitive... right? Sorry to bother you (and to be so retard here...) but I got a bit confused...
    – Naigel
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 16:05
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    I feel like this "rule" is extremely archaic and artificial, if it ever was a rule; it doesn't match how people actually speak in US English.
    – stangdon
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 17:38
  • @stangdon I wonder whether Cambridge is written by a non-native speaker! :) But good, your comment/downvote urged me to dig through t! Thanks
    – Maulik V
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 10:26

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