Another way to say "list of/with names" would be "names list" or "name list" or "names' list"? The last one I suppose is not correct, because possesive is used for persons, am I right?

  • Could you provide some context? Depending on where this list is used or what it is used for, there could be different words for it in English. – Dmann Nov 12 '18 at 18:18
  • This one I needed for naming a variable in a program ;) The variable was a list containing some names. I was wondering if there is some more general rule for the situation where I have for example "container of some things", "bowl of fruits", "dictionary of stupid words" - would it be "fruits bowl" and "words dictionary"? – zenek Nov 12 '18 at 21:40
  • In that instance I'd go with nameList as the variable name. Since the names are not for any specific purpose and there's no particular occasion, there's nothing more specific you can use. – Dmann Nov 13 '18 at 22:17

Name list and names list are both valid. Which one is better might depend on the context.

Names' list is incorrect, but for a different reason.

It's incorrect because when you use the possessive apostrophe s, it suggests that the list belongs to the names, or that the list is intended to be used by the names, which doesn't make any sense. It's not important that names are not persons. Even with a set of people, we would not use this phrase. Or if we did, it would have a different meaning.

For example, a presidents' list would not be a list of presidents, it would be a list (of something else) that was made for presidents.

Note: I see a lot of English language learners making comments about the possessive apostrophe s only being correct in reference to people. This is incorrect; there is no such rule. I don't know why teachers are telling their students this. All kinds of inanimate objects can "possess" things: the sun's rays, the ocean's bounty, the food's smell, the paint's luster, the table's finish, the car's make, and on and on and on.

  • I would appreciate an explanation what is the difference when saying names list and name list. Im rather asking about general rule so there's no really a context. I have for example "container of/with some things", "bowl of/with fruits", "dictionary of/with stupid words". When would i use fruits bowl, and when fruit bowl? – zenek Nov 12 '18 at 21:52

Using "name" as an attributive noun is acceptable "a name list" or even hyphenated "name-list". Similarly we can get "fruitbowl" (this compound has become so common that it is increasingly written as one word) and "stupid-word-dictionary".

However "list of names" is a normal and natural way of describing this:

Have you got the list of names for the party? I want to check if Kathy has been invited.

In particular contexts it may be given a special name. In school, a list of names is a "register", or sometimes a "roll" (from which we get the expression "roll call"; at one time the list of names would have been written on a roll of paper).

  • What about names list? Is it the same as name list? – zenek Nov 14 '18 at 17:53

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