Why "deer's numbers" is not correct and I should say "deer numbers" without 's

I have the same question for the phrase "deer population", is it right to say "deer's population"?

Why should I not put the possessive 's in these expressions?

2 Answers 2


"Deer population" is correct since you can't own a population. Hence why it isn't called "Human's population". A place however can "own" a certain population. Places can own populations but a human or animal cannot.

I am not sure about "deer's numbers" or "deer numbers" since I have never heard anyone say that in the way that you are implying it. I think it is best for you to say "number of deer" population-wise.


The population does not belong to the deer; the deer are the population. “Deer population” is a single compound noun, with the noun-adjunct “deer” operating as an adjective.

This may seem a bit confusing because we speak of a city’s or country’s population, but as with the deer, we do not think of the humans within that city or country as possessing themselves.

  • With the word “numbers”? Could I say “deer’s numbers” or is it totally wrong?
    – newdmk
    Nov 8, 2020 at 20:25

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