Not sure how many people have heard of the book series / television series by this name, but can somebody explain the grammar behind the name "The Vampire Diaries"? Does it mean "the diaries of the vampire"? If this is the case, shouldn't it be "The Vampire's Diaries?

  • 1
    If you've heard of the show "The X-Files", it's similar to that in spirit. There, the meaning isn't "the files of the X"; rather, the X is a label that sort of denotes the kind or the nature of the files (or more precisely, the nature of their content and/or subject matter). In case you're not familiar, the show is about 2 FBI agents investigating paranormal occurrences, and "The X-Files" is how they refer to cases involving paranormal or inexplicable phenomena. Dec 19, 2021 at 22:51
  • Somewhat related They write in their school diary (or) diaries?. A school diary is a small book that students use to write in their school homework and record any planned tests etc. If each student had two more diaries we would say "school diaries" no need for the possessive apostrophe.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 20, 2021 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


"Vampire" is acting as an attributive noun. These are diaries that are related in some way to vampires, or a vampire. They could be diaries written by vampires, or describing events concerning a vampire. They could even be diaries that will suck your blood.

Attributive nouns can sometimes be replaced by a prepostional phrase. But you can't tell which preposition would be used without more context.

So "the vampire diaries" could mean "the diaries for a vampire" or "the diaries about a vampire" or "the diaries of a vampire" or "the diaries with a vampire" etc. etc.

As with other forms of ambiguity in English, this rarely causes any problems, but can be used for jokes.

Would you like some girl-scout cookies?
Are they made from real girl scouts?

  • 14
    It could even be an account of a pilot's time flying the De Havilland Vampire jet fighter. Dec 18, 2021 at 22:30
  • 9
    Or working at Walmart
    – gotube
    Dec 19, 2021 at 2:46
  • 2
    Of course, since the stories are about actual vampires, these alternate meanings are unlikely. The context narrows the possibilities.
    – Barmar
    Dec 19, 2021 at 17:22
  • 3
    @Barmar: Unless they're vampires that commute to and from Walmart in their Vampires. :-p
    – Vikki
    Dec 19, 2021 at 18:03
  • 3
    Sure they can be about a vampire "Monday Jan 7th, 1884: I'm keeping this diary to document my visit to Castle Dracula, and to find if the rumours about its owner are true..."
    – James K
    Dec 20, 2021 at 16:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .