As per a post, specific phrases like "apple's taste", "book's cover", "boss's car" are called "possessive nouns". I understand this though I am not sure if it is a grammatical term.

How do I call the first part of that specific kind of phrase (like "apple's", "book's", "boss's")?

  • "Possessive nouns" is correct. Commented May 14, 2020 at 0:17
  • @JackO'Flaherty Both "Apple's taste" and "Apple's" are called Possessive nouns?
    – Piete3r
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 0:20
  • 2
    "Apple's" is a possessive noun. "Apple's taste" is a noun phrase. "The apple's taste is sweet." That sentence has a noun phrase as subject, with "Apple's", a possessive noun, acting as an adjective. Commented May 14, 2020 at 0:31

2 Answers 2


"Apple's" in "The apple's taste" is a possessive noun; it however is not an adjective. "Apple's taste" is a noun phrase, with "Apple's", a possessive noun, modifying "taste"

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    Apple is not an adjective: it fails most of the tests for adjectives. It is a noun modifying another noun. But I agree that the apple's taste and the apple taste are different in structure and meaning.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 7:44

No, the entire phrases are not called "possessive nouns". Because they are headed by nouns ("taste", "cover", "car"), they may be called "noun phrases".

A "possessive noun" is a noun that is inflected (declined) for the possessive (genitive) case. The usual marker for that inflection is "'s". In your three phrases, "apple's", "book's", and "boss's" are possessive nouns.

Within those phrases, the possessive nouns function adjectivally, i.e., they modify nominals. The nominals that they modify are the nouns "taste", "cover", and "car".

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