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wikipedia.org:

... "pack of dogs" is similar, but not identical in meaning to ... "dogs' pack" (and neither of these is entirely interchangeable with "dog pack" ... ).

What is the difference between "pack of dogs", "dogs' pack" and "dog pack"?
Could you give me please the examples where they are not interchangable?

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  • We just say pack of dog or dog pack. That's it.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 23:54
  • Dog pack implies a group of dogs that may be organized for hunting or other purposes. pack of dogs is a more general term refers to a group of dogs without specifying their purpose.
    – Sam
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 3:26

2 Answers 2

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They all mean the same thing essentially, but with subtle differences.

"Pack of dogs" - a "pack" is the collecting word for a group of dogs, but is also used for groups of other animals, e.g. a pack of wolves. In this form it can be interpreted more casually. For example: "I saw a pack of dogs in the park". This could mean that I saw a group of dogs in the park, even though they're not part of an actual, naturally formed pack.

"Dogs' pack" - This is older English and does not really make too much sense in modern English. "Dog's pack" on the other hand refers to the group ("pack") an individual dog belongs to. "After helping heal it's injuries we could not locate the dog's pack to return it to."

"Dog pack" - Refers more to the group of dogs itself as an entity. "Using drones, we observed the dog pack as it migrated North".

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A dog pack is a simple singularity, whereas a pack of dogs has a hint of the potentially chaotic. A pack of dogs can run amok.

But it's not about dogs; this is really about pack and whether the modifier is a singular attributive adjective or a prepositional phrase with a plural noun.

A cigarette pack.

A pack of cigarettes.

With "a cigarette pack" we have a singular adjective and a singular noun. The nuance of the singular, if there is any, is monadic simplicity not in need of organization.

With "a pack of cigarettes" the modifier is in the plural which allows a hint of potential disorganization to poke its wet nose into the situation. Multiplicity wants organization.

Just as a pack of dogs can run amok, take a cigarette or two out of the pack and soon you have cigarettes leaning sideways, no longer standing perfectly parallel. Utter chaos.

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