I saw this two examples:

The emperor of China and China's emperor.

Is it possible to say: "China emperor" without the apostrophe? I saw some examples in ficcion books, like:

The England's king emissary.

I would think of The England's king's emissary.

Understood. So, in this instance,

Life force https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_force

Is the idea different if it were stated force of life or life's force?

  • You can't say "The England's king emissary" because king is a noun, and nouns in English can only have one determiner, and both The and England's are determiners.
    – stangdon
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 1:20
  • I can't imagine a scenario in which "the England's" would make sense unless "England's" was a brand name like "Dewar's."
    – Robusto
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 1:53
  • Perhaps the name of a huge China store: The China Emperor
    – mplungjan
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 10:00

3 Answers 3


If somebody said to me "China emperor", I would visualise a ceramic statue of an emperor. That's only because china has more than one meaning and, without any context, the wrong meaning seems more probable.

It is possible to refer to a group of people who represent a country by the name of he country, for example you can talk about England, in the context of football, to mean the England football team. In the same context, you can say "the England manager" to mean the manager of the England football team.

This usage is not a possessive: it is a compound noun made up of England (meaning the group of people who represent England in football) and manager.

In the context of football, "the China manager" might be understood, but some people might still interpret this as another ceramic statue.

In a compound noun, the final noun is the main one and the preceding nouns act in an adjectival role. In the case of China, it would make more sense to use the appropriate real adjective Chinese, giving "the Chinese emperor". Again, this is not a possessive.

The England's king emissary.

This sounds like something that you might see in subtitles for a bootleg Asian copy of a DVD. Can you provide a link to it? The nearest grammatical phrase would be

The English King's emissary.

Moving on to "life force", this is a compound noun like "England manager". Again, it is not a possessive.


No, "China emperor" is not correct. Yes, there is a difference in meaning between your examples about life force.

Life's force: Force belonging to or possessed by life Force of life: Force related to, pertaining to, or associated with life (not necessarily belonging to life) Life force: A noun that in the Wikipedia example refers to a specific concept. In another context, this could also mean "force that gives life".


To answer your main question, no. "China emperor" is not grammatical; it has to be "China's emperor", with the apostrophe.

As for your example,

The England's king emissary,

I can't imagine it's valid grammar. This phrase strikes me as odd due to "The England's" -- it could be "England's", "English", or maybe even "The English's", but to put the article "the" in front of "England" makes little sense.

Apart from that, "king emissary" could be a specific title given to the king's emissary, like how the English refer to the "queen mother" instead of the "queen's mother". Except for established titles like that, an apostrophe is required.


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