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However, this generalization is flawed because it fails to factor in young people’s better access to traffic education than previous generations’ when they were young.

I'm comparing "access" to "access"; therefore, I think the apostrophe is necessary. However, Grammarly suggested that I remove it. Why is that so? Thank you in advance!

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    Grammarly has a bad reputation; its advice is frequently poor; however in this case I would accept it because of the awkward trailing apostrophe and rewrite the sentence thus: However, this generalization is flawed because it fails to factor in young people’s better access to traffic education than that of previous generations when they were young. Commented Jul 9 at 13:22
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    The sentence is ungrammatical. factor in wants a NP or a nominal content-clause.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 9 at 13:48
  • You can't use an apostrophe unless there is a noun after it. Grammarly is right here. than previous generations access to it. It is not possessive.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 9 at 15:06
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    @Lambie - can I not say My car is better than Thomas' ? Commented Jul 9 at 15:26
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    @Lambie - I don't quite see what you're getting at there. Commented Jul 9 at 15:29

2 Answers 2

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Consider the following scenario:

Widgets are more popular than gizmos. Widgets must be superior.

-- That generalization is flawed because it fails to factor in widgets' lower impact on the pocketbook than gizmos'.

The second utterance that begins "That generalization..." is ungrammatical because widgets' lower impact on the pocketbook than gizmos' is not a noun-phrase, and neither is it a clause, and "factor in" wants one or the other:

-- That generalization is flawed because it fails to factor in widgets' lower impact on the pocketbook.

-- That generalization is flawed because it fails to factor in that widgets have lower impact on the pocketbook than gizmos.

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  • Are "factor in the fact that..." and "factor in that..." equally natural? I've seen the former, preposition + the fact that, so much more frequently that the latter, preposition + that, sounds somewhat strange to me. Commented Jul 9 at 15:17
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    "The fact" is unnecessary there and I would consider "factor in the fact that..." somewhat clumsy. "The fact that..." is used more often when starting the sentence with the content-clause; e.g. "That he was gearing up for another run for the senate was obvious". Many speakers find that stilted, and they will instead write "The fact that he was gearing up.... was obvious" or make a cleft like "It was obvious that he was gearing up...". You will encounter sentences that begin with a content clause very frequently in academic writing.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 9 at 15:29
  • Yes, I also find the content-clause at the beginning of a sentence pretty stilted, but in the middle of a sentencr, maybe "factor in the fact that" is stilted because of "fact" being repeated? In my textbook back in high school, I saw "despite the fact that" all the time instead of "despite that". That was when I started forming the "preposition + the fact that" generalization in my head. Now that I know this is incorrect at least in the case of "factor in", I want to know if it is valid in any case. Commented Jul 10 at 0:15
  • It's not ungrammatical with "factor in the fact that" but simply stylistically clumsy because there is no need for "the fact" and because of the duplicated sounds "FACTor in the FACT".
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 10 at 0:59
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The sample: However, this generalization is flawed because it fails to factor in young people’s better access to traffic education than previous generations’ when they were young. = not formal writing as suggested by the sentence.

Rewrite:
However, this generalization is flawed because it fails to factor in young people’s better access to traffic education than previous generations when they were young.

PROOF: Better access to traffic education than previous generations [access to it] was a problem.

No apostrophe. No Saxon genitive.

BUT: Ludwig Guru:

"previous generations access" is grammatically correct and can be used in written English. It refers to the ability or opportunity of earlier generations to obtain or use something. Example: Previous generations had limited access to technology, but today's youth are constantly connected to their devices.

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    Omitting the second plural possessive (than previous generations) compares the access young people have today with previous generations themselves, not with the lesser access to education those previous generations had, making an already bad sentence worse. Your unelided phrase "previous generations access to it" calls for a possessive.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 9 at 16:31
  • @TimR Seniors better access to healthcare than previous generations. No apostrophe.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 10 at 14:12
  • @TimR Not in the way I restated it. [...] factor in young people’s better access to traffic education than previous generations when they were young. That's fine.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 10 at 16:27
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    Your restatement is not fine. when they were young does not do anything to ameliorate the issue.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 10 at 16:45
  • @TimR It can just be: The sample: However, this generalization is flawed because it fails to factor in young people’s better access to traffic education than previous generations. It's fine. Young people's better access to traffic education than previous generations is a fact of life. That's fine too. I added access to it to show an elision, that's all.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 10 at 17:24

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