16
  • I am firmly convinced he is innocent and his accusation is the result of the police conspiracy.

  • I am firmly convinced he is innocent and his accusation is the result of the police's conspiracy.

Which sentence do you think is a better choice?

2

The question in the post is about possessive inflection and use of a compound word of noun-noun combination.

Genitive inflection or "'s" means possession/ownership/relationship/authorship or, to say it the other way round, one noun belongs to another noun for any, some or all of the above reasons. As

  • cat's tail
  • Lamb's essays.
  • police's conspiracy.

In answering a question on the preference between a possessive or a compound noun Roger Woodham in 'BBC Learning English' writes that the link between two nouns can be established either by using possessive form or compound nouns. As

  • The US Bank's Finance Division
  • The US Bank Finance Division

Both are possible, but sometimes one form is more likely than another. For example, complemental noun groups can often be rephrased as compounds without "'s".

  • the relativity theory.
  • the linguistics department.

    In a noun-noun combination of compound noun the first noun is more like a classifying adjective; it descrbes the nature of second noun. In news paper headlines or reports, such nouns summarize a lot of information at a stroke.

  • Watergate Scandal.

From the question it is not clear whether the police is the only perpetrator of the conspiracy or just a party to a multi-agency conspiracy which go by the name, Police Conspiracy.

If the police is only to blame for the conspiracy, POLICE'S CONSPIRACY has an edge over the other option. If we overlook niceties, both can do.

5
+50

There is a slight difference between:

  • the police conspiracy

and

  • the police's conspiracy

The first tells you what type of conspiracy it was:

  • the [police conspiracy].

The second tells you who was doing the conspiring.

  • [the police]'s conspiracy

In the first example, it could be one or two or three police involved, or many. However, the second example makes it sound as if the conspiracy was by the police as a body of people, or as an institution. Notice that in the second example, the word the belongs with police and not with conspiracy. Both of these choices are fine, but one might be better than the other in a different situation.

However, in the Original Poster's sentence neither of these is a good choice—although we cannot be sure without more context. The reason is that the speaker is introducing the idea of police conspiracy here. They are telling us what type of thing caused the accusation and not referring to an already mentioned conspiracy. For this reason it would be better to use the indefinite article a, instead of the word the or a possessive:

  • I am firmly convinced he is innocent and his accusation is the result of a police conspiracy.

If we don't want to say that the type of conspiracy was a police conspiracy but want to indicate that the police in general were conspiring, we cannot use a possessive to indicate this. We cannot say:

  • *a the police's conspiracy (ungrammatical)

This is because we cannot use a and a possessive Determiner (like John's or the police's) in the same noun phrase. We can indicate that the police were doing the conspiring by using a by preposition phrase though:

  • I am firmly convinced he is innocent and his accusation is the result of a conspiracy by the police.
  • "Notice that in the second example, the word the belongs with police and not with conspiracy." - It does? I wouldn't have said so. – nnnnnn May 14 '16 at 2:03
  • @nnnnnn Yes, we can show why. A noun phrase is usually split into two sections, a Determiner and a Nominal. The Determiner can be a word like the, a, my, his, this that, some etc. Or it can be another noun phrase with 's like John's, my friend's, the elephant's etc. So we can have: "the bag / a bag / John's bag / the elephant's bag". But notice that we can only have one Determiner foe each noun phrase. We cannot say "the my bag" or "some my friends" or "a John's bag". ... – Araucaria May 14 '16 at 9:54
  • @nnnnnn ... So if you think about the word "the" in "the police's conspiracy" then it must be Determiner for the noun phrase "the police". Why? because otherwise "conspiracy" will have two Determiner's. The first Determiner would be the and the second Determiner would be "police's". We already saw this is impossible: We can't say "the John's bag" or "a John's bag". So the structure must be "[the police]'s bag". Am I making sense? :-) – Araucaria May 14 '16 at 9:59
2

What nobody has seemed to touch on yet is that "police conspiracy" is a phrase that is fairly common. In all my years, I've never heard anyone say or write, "police's conspiracy." It just sounds awkward to my ears, and I think it's because "police conspiracy" is a familiar and accepted phrase. Same with "government conspiracy." It'd be very awkward to write "government's conspiracy."

1

I would use "police conspiracy" without possessive, and without "the":

"I am firmly convinced he is innocent and his accusation is the result of police conspiracy."

However, it is unclear to me who is accusing whom. Without more context, "he" and "his" read as though there are two separate males, both involved in police conspiracy, one accusing the other...Do you mean to say that there is one innocent male who is being unjustly accused by police conspirators? As in:

"I am firmly convinced he is innocent, and that the accusation brought against him is the result of police conspiracy."

0

First will suit here because, here first point means police made some conspiracy and second point something related police made conspiracy.

Here we are pointing police in this sentence and not something related to police.

0

First case :

I am firmly convinced he is innocent and his accusation is the result of the police conspiracy.

Here, its possible that the conspiracy was by police (but other maybe involved). When you say the police conspiracy is mostly is just a conspiracy where police is involved(not necessarily a conspiracy of their's).

I am firmly convinced he is innocent and his accusation is the result of the police's conspiracy.

Here, its a conspiracy my the police(no one else involved). When you say polices's conspiracy it means a conspiracy by the police.

-2

'The police conspiracy' implies that everyone in the police department has conspired to support the accusation 'The police's conspiracy' implies a conspiracy that a subset of police are part of; for example the police running this specific case.

The second sentence could be made clearer by specifying the specific police who are part of the conspiracy, such as using the phrase 'the arresting officer's conspiracy'.

  • "'The police conspiracy' implies that everyone in the police department has conspired to support the accusation" - No it doesn't. It could be, for example, just the vice squad, or just the 5th precinct. Or it could be just a few key personnel from several branches. 'the arresting officer's conspiracy' - This doesn't make sense because a conspiracy has to have more than one conspirator. – nnnnnn May 14 '16 at 2:08
-2

As Mark Ripley was saying, 'The police conspiracy' is implying that each police officer is playing a role in a (the) conspiracy whether they know it or not.

'The police's conspiracy' is possessive of the police officer, which means only one police officer is being conspired against.

  • Please don't add "thanks", "I agree", or "this answer worked for me" as answers. Invest some time in the site and you will gain sufficient privileges to upvote answers you like, which is the English Language Learners way of saying thank you. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 12 '16 at 0:14
  • 1
    I wouldn't read 'The police's conspiracy' as "possessive of the police officer" (and, even if I did, I wouldn't interpret that to mean that "only one police officer is being conspired against"). – J.R. Apr 12 '16 at 0:51
  • 1
    I don't agree with this at all. "Police" is plural, not singular. – Ringo May 10 '16 at 6:54

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