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If one were to say "I entered my apartment building", does that mean that:

  • the building contains the speaker's apartment (which belongs to him/which he holds on lease); or
  • that the ENTIRE building belongs to such person?

I'm assuming that it's mostly always used to mean the former. However, is there a way to properly distinguish between the two in American English?

For example, is using the below two phrases more accurate & idiomatic?:

  • "my apartment's building" for the former; and
  • "my apartment building" for the latter.
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  • Your paragraph starting "In (British) English" is entirely false. "I entered my block of flats" does not mean that the speaker owns the block -- principally because so few people own entire blocks. Oct 8 '21 at 8:32
  • You're right, @AndrewLeach. I just typed in "his block of flats" in Google, and in all cases the phrase is not used to mean that the speaker owns the block, but that his flat is in that block. It seems very odd to me, particularly because "my/his/her" for me means that one OWNS something or, at the very least, leases it. I'll remove it. Thank you. Oct 8 '21 at 8:39
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    I'd advise against thinking that my girlfriend suggests any sort of ownership! My X is used to express a variety of relationships between me and x. My foot, my word, and probably a dozen more if I could only think quicker.
    – High Performance Mark
    Oct 8 '21 at 8:43
  • The limited use of the possessive is easily disproved by the example of "That is my picture," which could mean that I own it, or that someone else does but it depicts me. I guess we're getting towards an answer. Oct 8 '21 at 8:43
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    Perfect analogy, @FumbleFingers. Makes sense - thank you, everyone. Oct 8 '21 at 10:56

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