It has bothered me for a while. I am a software developer and I keep noticing things like

the features of the Java 8's release

during C++'s development period

This method is one of the Java 8's Stream API's terminal methods.

How the Use of Scala's Features Affects Compile Time?

I am totally confused because all the examples seem grammatically wrong to me. Even though they originate from well educated and trusted sources, I never thought of describing the possession in that way. I was taught we never use 's to indicate the possession of an inanimate object (or any other thing that can't, by nature, own/possess something).

Java 8's release

a Java 8's release

the Java 8's release

the Java 8 release (the one I fully agree with)

the release of Java 8 (also looks fine to me)

  • 1
    At some point, "correct" English is however people use it. So, in theory, all of these are legitimate expressions. I too dislike the possessive, but mostly for reasons of style. It's certainly OK to use the possessive for inanimate objects, e.g. "the car's headlights"
    – Andrew
    May 25, 2019 at 21:23
  • @Andrew Is it established and correct English to use in a formal setting? May 25, 2019 at 21:35
  • @Andrew we don't say "the Andrew's eyes", why would we use "the" before "car's headlights" if the car defines its headlights (the headlights of the car)? May 25, 2019 at 21:38
  • 1
    I'd say it's already being used in a "formal" setting, if it appears in articles about Java programming. As for the definite article, there are many textbooks and websites that explain when you should use the definite article, when the indefinite article, and when no article.
    – Andrew
    May 25, 2019 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


If you were taught that "we never use 's to indicate the possession of an inanimate object", then note that this is a "rule" that is not followed in practice, even in formal English.

The topic has been discussed at length in this post in English Language and Usage. As noted in the accepted answer, the possessive 's appears even in the English translated Bible (King James Version), which is as formal as English it can get.

That said...

When you use possessive 's, you can't add an article to a proper noun, such as "Java 8". Therefore, the following phrases from your examples are incorrect:

*a Java 8's release (use instead: Java 8's release)

*the features of the Java 8's release (use instead: the features of the Java 8 release [=the release of Java 8]. Or: the features of Java 8's release).

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