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BlackCrowesChick
02-25-2006, 09:49 AM
This is kind of hard to explain, but I'll try my best to make it clear.

When you are showing a possessive then using a phrase that you must put in the sentence to describe the person who is doing the possessing, where does the 's go?

Here, I'll put up the phrase I'm having trouble with from my WIP so it makes more sense:

the man he had talked to on the phone's kind

That phrase is part of a larger sentence, but the rest of it makes sense to me; I was just having trouble with that part of it.

See, its not the phone who is possessing the kind (meaning the type, if that helps any), but the man. If I put an 's after man, though, then it wouldn't make sense:

the man's he had talked to on the phone kind

So, is it correct the first way, the way I have it? It doesn't seem grammatically correct, but it sounds right.

Thanks for any help anybody can give me! I hope I explained this right!

luxintenebrae
02-25-2006, 10:22 AM
Oh, yeah, I've run into that before! Horrible, horrible things. The way you phrased it is something I would say in a conversation, but I think (very very not sure though) that it's grammatically incorrect. Since I wasn't sure how to do this (I probably learned in school and forgot a long time ago), I always just rearranged the sentence. Usually, I'd have to put the sentence describing the person in another part of the paragraph or find a synonym for the whole phrase. Maybe "the recent caller's kind" would work? Hopefully, someone else can answer this better than I can!

BlackCrowesChick
02-25-2006, 10:31 AM
Okay, thank you! That does help - "the recent caller's kind" will probably work, or just "caller's" maybe.

How I have it is how I would say it conversationally, too. That's one of the problems with modern American English - things are often said one way so that it sounds right, but they aren't grammatically correct.

reph
02-25-2006, 10:37 AM
the kind of man he had talked to on the phone
men of the kind he had talked to on the phone
men like the one he had talked to on the phone

maestrowork
02-25-2006, 10:39 AM
I would rephrase it. "The recent caller's type" would be an alternative. I would also try to use "of" instead:

The type of man he had talked to on the phone...

luxintenebrae
02-25-2006, 10:49 AM
Oh. I was still confused by how 'kind' was meant in the sentence. I was thinking there was more to the sentence, like 'kind of hat' or something. I don't know why. I was making it more difficult. :D Anyway, great suggestions, everyone! Thank you!

BlackCrowesChick
02-25-2006, 10:49 AM
I just tried a few different ones in the whole sentence, and a few of them work out. I think "men like the one he had talked to on the phone" seems to read the best with the rest of the sentence.

Thanks for all of the suggestions, everyone! I might end up changing it to a different one, but for now I think I've got it figured out.

Jamesaritchie
02-26-2006, 06:21 AM
This is kind of hard to explain, but I'll try my best to make it clear.

When you are showing a possessive then using a phrase that you must put in the sentence to describe the person who is doing the possessing, where does the 's go?

Here, I'll put up the phrase I'm having trouble with from my WIP so it makes more sense:

the man he had talked to on the phone's kind

That phrase is part of a larger sentence, but the rest of it makes sense to me; I was just having trouble with that part of it.

See, its not the phone who is possessing the kind (meaning the type, if that helps any), but the man. If I put an 's after man, though, then it wouldn't make sense:

the man's he had talked to on the phone kind

So, is it correct the first way, the way I have it? It doesn't seem grammatically correct, but it sounds right.

Thanks for any help anybody can give me! I hope I explained this right!

I have to admit, I don't even understand what you're trying to say with this sentence.

If you're trying to describe the person as being kind, there is no possessive involved. If you're trying to say what kind of man he is, no possessive is involved. So I don't understand the question.

BlackCrowesChick
02-26-2006, 10:06 AM
I have to admit, I don't even understand what you're trying to say with this sentence.

If you're trying to describe the person as being kind, there is no possessive involved. If you're trying to say what kind of man he is, no possessive is involved. So I don't understand the question.

Its neither. As I said, its hard to explain. The whole sentence is a lot longer than the phrase I was asking about. I think Reph and Maestrowork understood what I was looking for. I was not trying to say what kind of man he is, but trying to talk about other men that were like him. That's why "men like the one he had talked to on the phone" fits. Its really hard to explain it any better than that, but I've got it grammatically correct now and it sounds right, thankfully.

CaroGirl
02-28-2006, 01:01 AM
In the example you're using, the word "phone's" is not a possessive. You are essentially saying: "The man on the phone IS kind." You're using a contraction, not the possessive.

Hope this helps.

PastMidnight
02-28-2006, 01:10 AM
In the example you're using, the word "phone's" is not a possessive. You are essentially saying: "The man on the phone IS kind." You're using a contraction, not the possessive.

No, the author isn't trying to say "The man on the phone is kind" here, but I can see how it could look like that from the brief snippet given. It is part of a longer sentence, such as, "I've been getting lewd phone calls from a strange. I don't understand the man on the phone's kind. What do they think they'll accomplish by saying things like that on the phone?" So it is possessive in this case.

BlackCrowesChick
02-28-2006, 09:16 AM
No, the author isn't trying to say "The man on the phone is kind" here, but I can see how it could look like that from the brief snippet given. It is part of a longer sentence, such as, "I've been getting lewd phone calls from a strange. I don't understand the man on the phone's kind. What do they think they'll accomplish by saying things like that on the phone?" So it is possessive in this case.

Exactly. Its the way many people would say it when speaking, but its grammatically incorrect. I'm so used to hearing (and saying) it that way that I wrote it that way. Glad some of you understood what I was trying to say and helped me phrase it correctly. Thanks again!

katee
02-28-2006, 03:34 PM
In English, when we can put a possessive on just a noun ("the man") or on a complicated noun phrase ("the man he had talked to on the phone").

In both cases, the 's goes at the end of the noun phrase - in the case of "the man" it's pretty simple: the man's, in the case of "the man he had talked to on the phone" it becomes "the man he had talked to on the phone's". That's wordy, but grammatically correct.

Incidentally, to identify where the noun phrase ends, just try replacing the phrase with "it".

Jamesaritchie
03-01-2006, 04:36 PM
It's a heck of a lot easier and clearer to just say "I've been getting lewd phone calls from a stranger. I don't understand that kind of man." Anyone will know you're talking about the man on the phone. A possessive in this case just makes the sentence muddy and difficult to understand. And the resulting sentence is just not very good, to say the least.

I don't believe very many people would say it this way, either. Certianly no one I know. Clarity is the point of language, and of grammar.

Possessives can be very good things, but few things muddy a sentence faster, or lead to poorer sentences, than a needless possessive.

BlackCrowesChick
03-02-2006, 10:19 AM
It's a heck of a lot easier and clearer to just say "I've been getting lewd phone calls from a stranger. I don't understand that kind of man." Anyone will know you're talking about the man on the phone. A possessive in this case just makes the sentence muddy and difficult to understand. And the resulting sentence is just not very good, to say the least.

I don't believe very many people would say it this way, either. Certianly no one I know. Clarity is the point of language, and of grammar.

Possessives can be very good things, but few things muddy a sentence faster, or lead to poorer sentences, than a needless possessive.

Yes, I agree, needless possessives can make sentences muddy. However, in this case, it was not needless. I needed it. Remember, the "lewd phone calls from a stranger" part is just an example that PastMidnight came up with. Its not what I wrote. What I wrote needed a possesive, whereas the example could've been reworded, like you said.

pianoman5
03-02-2006, 03:43 PM
If you absolutely need to use the construction you've chosen, my understanding is that you can make the noun a compound with hyphens, viz:

"the-man-he-had-talked-to-on-the-phone's"

But it's still very clumsy, and like others, I'd opt for re-wording the phrase to make the meaning unequivocal.

Mac H.
03-02-2006, 03:53 PM
Yes, I agree, needless possessives can make sentences muddy. However, in this case, it was not needless. I needed it. ... What I wrote needed a possesive, whereas the example could've been reworded, like you said.Why don't you give the actual sentence, instead of a similar example. I honestly can't think of an example that can't be reworded.

Is there a reason that you can't give the actual example?

Mac.

Jamesaritchie
03-02-2006, 04:32 PM
Yes, I agree, needless possessives can make sentences muddy. However, in this case, it was not needless. I needed it. Remember, the "lewd phone calls from a stranger" part is just an example that PastMidnight came up with. Its not what I wrote. What I wrote needed a possesive, whereas the example could've been reworded, like you said.

Anything can be reworded. Why don't you show the sentence. I'd bet any amount of money the possessive isn't needed with just a tiny bit of work.

Whenever you have to force a possessive, and probably whenever the proper obvious use isn't apparent, you're better off without the possessive.

BlackCrowesChick
03-02-2006, 11:33 PM
I did put up the actual example, just not the full sentence, because the rest of the sentence was fine. It didn't need any reworking at all. It was only that one little phrase that I was having trouble with. That's why I only put that part up.

When I said I needed the possessive, I meant that when I originally wrote it I thought I needed it. I reworded it the other day with "men like the one he had talked to on the phone." I took out the possessive.

As I said the other day:
I just tried a few different ones in the whole sentence, and a few of them work out. I think "men like the one he had talked to on the phone" seems to read the best with the rest of the sentence.

Its fine now, sans a possessive.

Sorry for any confusion. Hopefully, I won't run into this problem again. I'll try to stay away from unnecessary possessives.

Jamesaritchie
03-03-2006, 09:55 AM
I did put up the actual example, just not the full sentence, because the rest of the sentence was fine. It didn't need any reworking at all. It was only that one little phrase that I was having trouble with. That's why I only put that part up.

When I said I needed the possessive, I meant that when I originally wrote it I thought I needed it. I reworded it the other day with "men like the one he had talked to on the phone." I took out the possessive.

As I said the other day:

Its fine now, sans a possessive.

Sorry for any confusion. Hopefully, I won't run into this problem again. I'll try to stay away from unnecessary possessives.


If you don't run into that problem again, you'll find another that's equally frustrating. On occasion, I still write sentences that have me half-crazy before I get them right.