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Which one is more grammatically correct as a shop name, Valhalla’s Dojo or Valhalla Dojo? It’s a name for a game centre. My partners and I can’t seem to agree on this.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jason Bassford Supports Monica, choster, James K, David Siegel, Varun Nair Apr 24 at 13:32

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    The OP asks which option is "more grammatical". They are both grammatical. Why should this be closed as "primarily opinion based"? When in doubt, please don't vote to close for whatever reason help you feel more comfortable! There is no reason that I can see not to let the community answer the OP's apparently sincere question. Please reopen. – Jim Reynolds May 4 at 11:28
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Both are grammatically correct. They just mean different things.

Valhalla's Dojo

In this case, Valhalla is taking a genitive role. This is the dojo that belongs to, is part of, or emanates from Valhalla. It's commonly referred to as a possessive, indicating that Valhalla possesses the dojo, though it's a bit more complex and has a wider range of meaning than that would suggest.

Valhalla Dojo

In this case, Valhalla is possibly taking an attributive role. It is an "attributive noun", used to indicate something about the attributes of the other noun to which it is attached. It is showing some association between the dojo and the idea of Valhalla.

However, it could also be said to be taking a purely nominative role, the name of the place being Valhalla and it being a dojo.

Of course, if the thing being so named isn't actually a dojo, the implications may be quite different.

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Either is fine in it's own way. Both are commonly used in business names.

Valhalla's Dojo

Means 'the dojo of Valhalla', or 'the dojo belonging to Valhalla'. That makes grammatical sense, however unlikely one might feel a dojo in Valhalla would be. Businesses do often use this device to associate a business with something else.

Valhalla Dojo

Means 'the dojo called Valhalla'. The dojo doesnt necessarily have anything to do with Valhalla, it just happens to be named after it. Think of it like 'Pepsi Cola' ... a cola called Pepsi. Pepsi doesn't inherently mean anything other than a way to distinguish itself from other colas. Nevertheless, by using the name Valhalla you would be creating an association in the client's mind.

So different cuisines will often have restaurants called things like 'Bombay Gate' or 'Peking Castle', but it would also be fine to say 'Bombay's Gate' (or 'Gate of Bombay') or 'Peking's Castle'.

  • Generally agree with this answer, but I disagree that "Valhalla Dojo" means "the dojo called Valhalla". "Bombay Gate" does not mean "the gate called Bombay". – whiskeychief Apr 15 at 10:26
  • The OP asks which is more "grammatically correct" . You answer by stating that both are fine. Do you mean that both are grammatical? How do you define grammatical (although that might be a better question for the OP)? – Jim Reynolds May 4 at 11:38
  • I define grammatical as whether it abides by the standard rules of grammar and makes sense to the reader, and both do. If you called it "Valhallas Dojo" or "Valhallas' Dojo", that would not be the case. – fred2 May 5 at 17:49
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fred2's answer is correct, but it is worth going a little further. A construction like "Valhalla's Dojo" of course uses the apostrophe as a possessive marker. If Valhalla were a person it would be universal to use the apostrophe, and an error to omit it. It is less common to use the apostrophe attached to a geographic location or building, because the connection between the words is an association (the dojo that is at/in Valhalla) rather than possession (the dojo belonging to Valhalla), so "Valhalla Dojo" would be a more usual construction.

An exception is when the location is used as a proxy for people who have a strong connection there - typically in the context of national or local pride. So "America's National Parks" or "Italy's coastline" would be common usages which carry some flavor of a sense of "ownership" by their peoples.

Another common use of the apostrophe is explanatory. For example, it would be usual to refer to "the Tokyo tower", but if you were trying to specify one out of several items, you might refer to "the Tower of London's east gate".

Using Valhalla's Dojo is not wrong - but omitting the "'s" is almost certainly better.

  • doesn't the apostrophe in "the Tower of London's east gate". mean the east gate belongs to London and not York? – WendyG Apr 15 at 10:16
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    There is a slight ambiguity here. Indeed the same words "the Tower of London's east gate" could possibly mean either "the east gate of the Tower of London" or "the tower on London's east gate". But "Tower of London" is so familiar to visitors as well as Londoners as a compound noun, that there is hardly any risk of misunderstanding. There are many, many cases where there is a possible ambiguity in meaning which has to be resolved by context, and mostly they do not depend on that " 's ". – Ian Apr 17 at 9:13
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Without knowing what a dojo is (I had to look it up) "Valhalla Dojo" looks like a person's first and last name.

You might want to avoid possible ambiguity. For example,

  1. Max Gym
  2. Max's Gym

In the first sentence, Max could be short for “maximum” suggesting that the gym has maximum comfort, size, and the state of the art sports equipment. In the second sentence, we understand that the owner of the gym is called "Max", so we add an -s suffix. Admittedly, the play on words would not work as well.

In the case of

  1. Vahilla Dojo

There is no play of words, and one would need to know what a dojo is.

dojo (Oxford Dictionaries)
A room or hall in which judo and other martial arts are practised.

  • I am presuming that somebody who was interested in a games shop would know what a dojo is. – WendyG Apr 15 at 10:14
  • @WendyG Maybe. I admit, I don't know how well-established the term is. But I still stand by my interpretation, without the apostrophe marker and without knowing what a dojo is, some would think it was a person's name. – Mari-Lou A Apr 15 at 10:37
  • in the UK it is a very common word, but I am a gamer so my sample group may be skewed. – WendyG Apr 15 at 10:43
  • And this is Stack Exchange where 80% of its members are computer engineers and/or gamers. – Mari-Lou A Apr 15 at 10:48
  • You state that you don't know what a dojo is, and then go on to give advice on how to use it or not to "avoid ambiguity". You then suggest that "Max's Gym" might be relevant to this question because Max might be either an abbreviation or someone's name. I cannot see any logic here. -1 – Jim Reynolds May 4 at 11:35

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