Which one is generally preferred:

  1. Image of Man in the tradition of the Holy Fathers.
  2. Image of Man in the Holy Fathers' tradition.

I would prefer the first, but is there a general rule or something?

  • Why m capital? Why no indefinite article? Am I missing something? Is it a title with flexible rules! :)
    – Maulik V
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 7:31
  • 1
    Because Man here means human being, so it does not need an article, e.g. origins of man, right? It may not need a capital M, but here it's used to emphasize his grandeur or something, as writing God with capital G... Re Commented May 22, 2014 at 8:02

1 Answer 1


What I know is quite a popular thing. However, there are many exceptions.

By default, inanimate nouns should normally get "of"

This having said, preferred is Mike's temperature is rising over the temperature of Mike is rising. On the other hand, the age of the fossil over the fossil's age.

Having this said, both are okay and convey the same message. As I find in sources, there's no single rule and the authors tend more to what looks natural.

Good read is here. Also, check the selected answer here.

  • So, in my example, the second option is prefered, as Holy Fathers are not inanimate? I understand that 'of' is preferable for inanimate things, but with animate, is it prefered not to use 'of'? Commented May 22, 2014 at 7:58
  • 1
    True as most references I found say. Remember, both are correct though. Because 'tradition', an inanimate noun, used 'of'! It's actually complicated - the son of his father or father's son!
    – Maulik V
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 8:00
  • 2
    I don't get it, who should be inanimate here, the tradition or the Holy fathers? =) I thought that it's only relevant here that 'Holy Fathers' are animate, what does 'tradition' has to do with it? Commented May 22, 2014 at 8:07
  • @Dmitri I edited and clarified further. Hope it's clear now. Kindly go through the links for detailed answer. I just put the crux.
    – Maulik V
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 9:14
  • Thanks, Maulik, I understand the general rule now. Can you state your opinion regarding my example, which option sounds more natural to you. I asked a few of my English-speaking freinds, and they all say the first option sounds more natural. Commented May 22, 2014 at 10:57

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