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Is it grammatical to use children as a possessive adjective in a phrase like this:

I bought children books for my children

If it's incorrect, what is the proper way to say the same, and is there any rule of thumb to remember?

  • 3
    Precisely this question has been addressed at great length on ELU. All the answers there are relevant and informative; but I would direct particular attention to that by Kaz, who points out that the version given by @WendiKidd is correct for no other reason than the fact that it is the current idiom. – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 16 '13 at 18:35
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The correct way to write the sentence would be:

I bought children's books for my children.

The possession is added because the books were created for the children.

  • And should there be an apostrophe? – bytebuster Feb 16 '13 at 17:10
  • 3
    Yes. The 's denotes posession. :) – WendiKidd Feb 16 '13 at 17:12
  • 5
    I'd only add that 'How it came to be formed' is one thing, but 'That is what we say' is quite another. It's the idiom. By contrast, another section of the bookstore is likely to be labeled Adult books, not Adult's books. – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 16 '13 at 18:39
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    @StoneyB: +1. English learners should be careful of that one. When something is referred to as "Adult" is usually means "not for children" (particularly pornography, violence etc), rather than "for Adults". For example, a program on filling in tax returns might be for Adults, but don't refer to it as an "Adult video" :) – Matt Feb 16 '13 at 19:13

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