It is stated within my grammar textbook that, "for things, ideas etc., we normally use of to show possession". So for example:

The temperature of the water. (Not the water's temperature)

But I heard in a lecture delivered by a native speaker the following:

Clementine didn't orbit only around the moon's equator.

Here, we have "moon's equator", but based on the rule stated by my grammar textbook, it should be "equator of moon". So did the lecturer make a grammar mistake?

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    It says 'we normally use of', not that using 'apostrophe s' is always wrong! Maybe it just sounded better in the context of the talk. – Kate Bunting Oct 17 '20 at 17:02
  • I know, but I'd like to know when native speakers use apostrophe for inanimate things. Or is it just based on preference? – shapoor Oct 17 '20 at 17:06
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    Yes, it's based on preference - as I said, the speaker must have felt that it sounded better in that particular sentence. – Kate Bunting Oct 17 '20 at 17:14

It is more common to use the “of” form with things, ideas, etc., but it’s not wrong to use the apostrophe-s form.


The distinction I can make here is that in most contexts, you could replace with “temperature of the water” with just “temperature”, or at least, “temperature” is the focal point of the sentence, e.g., someone is running a bath and you ask, “How’s the temperature?”

With the moon’s equator, we’re much more focused on the fact that we’re talking about the moon.

I’m not sure if this distinction would always apply, but this is how I feel it to be, so perhaps you could think along these lines and see if it makes sense.

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