what’s the difference between of and ‘s?


what’s the difference between of and ‘s?

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In English they both mean grammatically the same thing, but come from different sources.

The possessive -s is a suffix from Old English that indicates possession. So it’s been with us for a very long time.

The ‘of’ is generally from the French influence on English (thanks, Normandy). Since Romance languages don’t have the possessive suffix, they use a phrase instead to indicate possession. As French became a prestige language in England (for a while), this phrasing caught on.

Now the usage of both are grammatically correct, but in *general* the possessive -s is most commonly used with human nouns and the ‘of’ form used with nonhuman nouns. But it’s not a hard and fast rule, and varies from dialect to dialect.


> Bill’s Car

and not

> The car of Bill