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Which one is better (as a question in a forum):

Number of family members: ......

Number of family's members: .....

  • Welcome! Have you done any research on this question --- and did you find anything you thought was helpful, or that you did not understand? You might try a quick internet search of both of these phrases ("enclosed in quotation marks") to see what version has more results. – whiskeychief Aug 15 at 10:16
  • Yes by using 'Google Books' and both could exist that's why I was asking which is better. – Manar Aug 15 at 13:33
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Both versions are correct, but "family members" is strongly preferred because it is a commonly-used compound noun.

  • But I thought that we can use compound nouns instead of the possessive "s" only with inanimate objects for instance we can say: Sally's car not the car of Sally – Manar Aug 12 at 18:56
  • @Manar No, either sentence is correct. There's nothing ungrammatical about the car of Sally. (It's also possible to say the car of Sally's, which is subtly different.) It has nothing to do with something being animate or inanimate. In the actual sentences in the question, the first sentence could be talking about multiple families, while the second is definitively only talking about a single family. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 12 at 20:04
  • Reading my comment now, I don't know what I was thinking writing it; of course compound nouns can exist with animate objects for instance: a race horse. – Manar Aug 12 at 23:46
  • @Jason but about your comment Jason, I'm confused. I'm not a native speaker but in English Grammar In Use, page 81A, it says: "...Tom's computer isn't working. (not the computer of Tom).... We do not always use -'s for people. For example: What was the name of the man who phoned you? ('the man who phoned you' is too long to be followed by -'s) I didn't copy the context letter by letter to brief but I'll try to find a link for it. I don't want to be rude but I don't know who to trust right now. – Manar Aug 12 at 23:48
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    @Manar The computer of Tom is unusual. It has a biblical or archaic sense to it. But it's certainly not ungrammatical. (The Tower of Babel or the winter of my discontent.) And it's not at all true that you can't add 's to the end of a noun phrase of any length. It's just that the longer the phrase, the less normal it looks. But it, too, is perfectly grammatical. However, these comments should not be used to debate these points that are only tangential to this question and answer. If you want those other things clarified properly, you should ask other questions. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 12 at 23:55

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