It is Mary's birthday. I've bought a present for her.
We say: It is a present for Mary.
Is it also correct to say: It is Mary's present? Do they have the same meaning?

  • 4
    In most contexts they both mean exactly the same thing. But sometimes Mary's present might mean a present from Mary, so there might feasibly possibly be a context where it's actually better to explicitly use the preposition rather than the genitive form. Other than that, it's largely a stylistic choice. Dec 31, 2015 at 19:18
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers -- Your comment would be a good answer.
    – Jasper
    Dec 31, 2015 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


The form:

That is Mary's X.

is the possessive form, and it means that X is associated with Mary somehow.

For example:

That is Mary's car.

usually means we are talking about the car that Mary owns, but, in the context of, say, a soapbox derby, it could mean, "that's the car that Mary built," or, if we were a large group of coworkers at a rental car agency, it could mean, "that's the car that Mary will be driving." If we were at an art exhibit, it could mean, "that's a picture of a car that Mary painted," and if Mary is a Formula-1 race car driver, it could mean, "that's Mary's car that just crashed," particularly if we end it with an exclamation point, like this:

That was Mary's car!

It the case of giving gifts, you've correctly supplied one possible meaning:

It's the present I intend to give to Mary.

Although FumbleFingers correctly pointed out there are other possible interpretations that are also valid:

That's the present I received from Mary.

You must log in to answer this question.

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