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I'm a portuguese speaker who loves English.
I've seen on a website the following affirmation: The content of the website. You can also say, "the website content", or "the website's content".
My question is: do the three ways of writing have the same meaning?
Can I apply the same logic to the following example: The phases of the moon, moon phases and moon's phases? Do they all mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably?

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  • We use caps for languages in English. Also, why not say "I saw", like in Portuguese, Eu vi? [writing this or these terms]
    – Lambie
    Jul 8, 2020 at 14:14
  • In my research, I found that we should use present perfect for situations that happened in a non-specified time in the past, butI know that its use is wider than the one I mentioned. Jul 8, 2020 at 14:32
  • Roberto: If you see something on some occasion, you use simple past. Using simple past does not mean you have to specify when. You saw this once. The use of the simple past in Portuguese and English is the same. And here in Portuguese, it's definitely simple past.
    – Lambie
    Jul 8, 2020 at 16:10

2 Answers 2

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The same phrases could be applied to the moon example equally, yet the three do not quite mean the same thing.

“Website content” is a general conceptual term that means “the content of a website”, and not the content of some specific website. Consider the difference between “candle wax” and “the candle’s wax.”

It may be said to mean the same thing if you used “the website content”, and it was implicitly understood to mean “the website content of this website”, although that would just be said as, “the content of this website,” or simply “the content.”

However, “the content of the website” and “the website’s content” do mean the same thing.

Equally with the moon example, “moon phases” would refer to the general concept of moons having phases, as opposed to some specific moon.

“The phases of the moon” and “the moon’s phases”, however, mean the same thing, referring to some specific moon, which, unless otherwise stated, would most likely be understood to mean the earth’s moon.

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  • +1 Very clear and usable answer.
    – Lambie
    Jul 8, 2020 at 14:15
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This is a good question.

To show possession or close association between nouns, we can use the genetive ending of "s" or the phrase "of X." Those are the only forms corresponding to the genitive case in Latin or German. (Sorry, but I do not know Portugese so I cannot draw a direct analogy if there is one.)

So "thw phases of the moon" and "the moon's phases" mean the same thing.

However, English also uses nouns adjectivally. Thus, you do get phrases like "website content," and some may use well known adjectival usages as a substitute for a gentive meaning, but adjectival use of nouns is not a general substitute for genetive meaning. "The girl lunch" simply sounds bizarre.

A website's contents are the responsibility of the content's creator rather than the website's publisher under U.S. law.

The sentence is distinguishing among different four different classes of things: website, content, creator, publisher. Two are not human and cannot possess things except metaphorically. So we could say

Website content is the responsibility of the creator of that content rather than the website publisher.

That sentence is distinguishing among three different things: content presented through websites generically, the specific person who created any such content, and publishers of websites generically. There actually is some sense to this construction because we are not talking about any specific content, any specific website, or any specific publisher but about categories: the law is of general application. Because people with a bureaucratic mindset tend to depersonalize everything, they may turn everything into categories

Website content is the responsibility of the content creator rather than the website publisher under U.S. law.

There. We are no longer talking about anything specific, just about a legal relationship among legal categories, and you can refer to the statutory definitions to determine what each category means in the eyes of the law.

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