A lot of grammar books say that with living things (a cat, a man), one can only use an -'s , for or double genitive so the only correct ways to say that a boy owns a hat are:

A boy's hat (apostrophe s)

A hat for a boy (for)

A hat of a boy's (double genitive)

And most books say also that "of" can be only used with inanimate objects, ex : the door of the house, the map of the garden...etc. So I came to understand that a clause like that is completely incorrect :

the computer of the family ❌❌❌

But like that it's correct:

the family's computer ✔✔✔✔

Then I discovered that "of" can also be used with animate objects, not just inanimate things, and that I can also use compound nouns.

So these two turned out to be correct:

the computer of the family ✔✔✔

the family computer ✔✔✔

But I'm wondering what are the differences in meaning between all of those ways to indicate possession, and whether all of them truly grammatically correct. If so, why do a lot of grammar books say that of is incorrect with living things like people or animals?

More importantly, are there any other ways to indicate possession other than the ones listed above?

  • 2
    The title of your question isn't actually the same as the body of your question. Looking only at the title, I would say that the sentence the tree's leaves turned colour is grammatical—and it's using a possessive s with an inanimate object. But that's not what the body of your question is asking (which has nothing to do with something being animate or not). – Jason Bassford Aug 13 '19 at 0:32
  • "A hat of a boy's" is meaningless. – Lambie Aug 13 '19 at 17:18
  • Should I use a proper noun instead : "A hat of Sam's" – Manar Aug 13 '19 at 17:49

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