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In Sonic Heroes, Tails often says: "Look at all those Eggman's robots!" when there are a lot of robots that belong to Eggman in the area.

Now, all over the web, this is sarcastically referred to as "impeccable grammar", which I can't understand why, for my native isn't English.

As much as I can figure, an "Eggman's robot" isn't a noun, which makes it wrong and sound funny, also when translated to my native.

So why exactly is this phrase wrong? Is "Look at all those robots of Eggman!" a correction? If not, what is?

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  • "Eggman's robot" (or "Eggman's robots") is definitely a noun phrase, though.
    – stangdon
    Dec 21, 2017 at 14:25

1 Answer 1

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Here's what's wrong with your example. If there is a demonstrative pronoun (those are words like this, that, these and those) in front of a noun and you want to introduce a new noun in the possessive case (that's that "apostrophe s" thing), the noun in the possessive will knock all those demonstrative pronouns out. Possessives and demonstratives just don't go together at all. So, technically speaking, you can't say "Look at all these Mark's cars". That's grammatically wrong. To make it sound like proper English, you instead would have to reword that sentence and say it like this "Look at all these cars. They're all Mark's." Or phrase your sentence in some other, possibly different, way.

"Look at all those robots of Eggman" would be better, but that sounds a little bit unnatural and, as stangdon pointed out, stilted. Alas, you're going to have to find an alternative way to phrase this sentence out.

There are, however, certain situations where a noun placed in the possessive case can be used alongside demonstratives. But in those situations, it actually acts like an adjective. This often happens with words that are in very common, everyday use such as brand names. For instance:

Look at all those McDonald's burgers. They're all rotten. I'm not gonna eat them!

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  • I think the reason why "those McDonalds' burgers" is acceptable is because McDonalds' is used almost like it were an adjective and not a possessive case. I suppose if we're being formal, we couldn't say it quite that way.
    – Neil
    Dec 21, 2017 at 14:18
  • Or Look at all those cars of Mark's, although that sounds a little stilted and formal to me. Good point about the brand names.
    – stangdon
    Dec 21, 2017 at 14:27
  • Thank you for your comment. And that's exactly what I said in my answer that it only acts as an adjective. Another very similar example of that would be an electrician's scissors. Dec 21, 2017 at 14:39

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