Many times I see constructions like

the node's text , the node text

the node's tag, the node tag

the page elements, the page's elements

the page footer (to mean the footer of page), the page header...

I know that they are different but it seems sometimes they can be used in place of each other. for example what is the difference of

  • the page elements
  • the elements of page
  • the page's elements

I found it awkward to repeat the page's elements if I can't use "the page elements".

Are there times that we can use both an adjective and a possessive construction for something?

  • why not use pronouns to avoid repetition? - just a suggestion
    – shin
    Aug 18, 2015 at 14:40
  • @shin in an article they may appear in various parts.
    – Ahmad
    Aug 18, 2015 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


No, a noun adjunct (a noun modifying a noun) is not always interchangeable with possessive construction.

You cannot say that a 'mountain bike' is a bike owned by a mountain if you make it possessive (i.e., mountain's bike??)

'Node's tag' means that there is a node, and the tag (specified) is of that node.

'Node tag' means a tag used for a node (in general).

  • Maybe not the exact interchangeable, but I feel there are cases when "node's tag" and "node tag" are the same. or any other example you say.
    – Ahmad
    Aug 18, 2015 at 13:35
  • please consider my other example in the updated question.
    – Ahmad
    Aug 18, 2015 at 13:52
  • I found this explanation: ". . .you use the possessive for a more generic meaning, and the compound to pick out some more idiomatic. . ." source: [english.stackexchange.com/questions/87591/…
    – shin
    Aug 18, 2015 at 13:55
  • @Ahmad The node's tag can say anything... a "node tag" would probably say "node".
    – Catija
    Aug 18, 2015 at 15:10
  • @Catija some of my examples may don't work. but how about others? for example page footer to mean the footer of the page.
    – Ahmad
    Aug 18, 2015 at 15:31

To me it seems to be related to whether X is a part of Y. In these cases, the node is made up of a text and tag, the page is made up of elements, the page has header and footer parts. In cases where Y contains X like this, then to specify what kind of X you mean you can say the Y X, which is the kind of X inside a Y.

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