What is the rule to solve doubts such as:

International law view vs. International law's view

Kosovo declaration of independence vs. Kosovo's declaration of independence

I have many examples, so I need the rule to know when to use 's and when not.

  • The apostrophe-s, "'s", is used only with a noun. So for the two examples you gave, the second one would be correct. If the word is not a noun, but instead an adjective or something else, it cannot have "'s" added to it. – JDM-GBG Jun 13 '19 at 1:41

The use of "'s" forms a "saxon genitive" or possessive. It is used to indicate that the thing (usually a noun or noun phrase) following the noun with 's appended in some way 'belongs to" or is associated with the previous boun (or compound noun).

In some cases the previous noun, ewith any 's being present, is traeted as an adjective modifying the subsequent word or phrase. In those cases the 's is not needed, and in many such cases it should not be used. In soem cases it can be used or not, with little change of meaning. Any "rule" on exactly when an 's should be used is at best a guideline, and there will be many exceptions. The specific phrases chosen will make a difference.

I would advise that you have a native or fluent speaker proofread a draft of your paper, and advise you on this an\d other usage questions. Such a person could take into account the specific phrases or idioms being used in each instance. Such a person might also identify other issues in need of correction.

A few guidelines:

  1. Never use 's to indicate a plural. This is done far too often, but remains an error, and one that annoys many readers. This is sometimes called the "greengrocer's apostrophe".

  2. Always use 's to indicate clear possession. "John's book" (John may be the owner of a copy, or the author.)

  3. Use 's to indicate close association. "The river's bed", "the Landlord's duties" "the countries border.

  4. Do not use 's when the modifier is already an adjective, or some other part of speech, rather than a noun. "A French accent" (not "a French's accent"); "A red house" (a house that is red in color) "A red's house" (a house belonging to a person of 'red" political views).

  5. When the first noun can be treated as an adjective, the 's is optional, but may be significantly favored or dis-favored in a particular case. Use of the 's may change the nuance of the meanign is such a case. This is where advice on the specific case is useful.

  6. When uncertain, an of- form may be often used in stead. "The bed of the river", "the duties of the landlord", t"he accent of the French", "the view of international law". Sometimes this changes the meaning, or sounds stuffy or overly formal.

Welcome to English, where rules are largely collections of exceptions.

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While @JDM-GBG is correct that only nouns can be used with " 's ", I would also like to point out that it is not always used when a noun modifies another noun.

For example when talking about "Kososvo's declaration of independence", you are referring to whatever Kosovo did to declare independence. However, typically with proper nouns, referring to a specific document, event, building, etc. an " 's ", is not needed. See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Kosovo_declaration_of_independence

These proper (or close to proper) nouns are also usually preceded by the article "the. " Both of these attributes imply that there is only one of whatever you are talking about.

In regards to your International law view vs. International law's view, similar rules apply but are not as strict because they are not referring to one thing.

saying "looking from the international law view ..." makes it sound like you are referring to a generally agreed upon perspective or set of guidelines to evaluate with that relate to international law.

but saying "looking from international law's view ... " sounds like you are looking at the actual international laws and then interpreting them (which may or may not be agreed upon). However, this phrasing sounds weird to me and I would more naturally say "the view of international law".

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  • Thank you for your answer. I still don't get it when I should not put 's. My first thought was - in sentences where I can say of, like "case of Kosovo" - I can say "Kosovo's case". But I guess that's not true, since I can say "Independence of Kosovo" but correct is Kosovo independence. – Miki Jun 13 '19 at 15:57
  • Do you have a full sentence that you want to use this phrase in? because as I mention both could be right – katatahito Jun 13 '19 at 23:40
  • For example: It is 12% of Kosovo/'s territory – Miki Jun 14 '19 at 21:00
  • In this case you would use use the apostrophe, it is usually pretty safe to put the apostrophe in – katatahito Jun 15 '19 at 9:21
  • Thanks, but I still don't know the rule, when I shouldn't' use 's... – Miki Jun 15 '19 at 19:55

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