possessive

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possessive

Post by Quoc » Wed Nov 29, 2006 1:26 pm

Which is correct? Are both correct? What is the rule?

a. How is Vietnam of importance in the US’ foreign policies?

b. How is Vietnam of importance in the US’ s foreign policies?

Quoc
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Post by hsargent » Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:24 pm

I believe a.

We would say...

How important is Vietnam in US foreign policy?

But I would also say...

How important is the US in Vietnam's economic policy?

So possessive are okay.
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possessive

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:40 pm

I disagree with Harry about the relative merit of a). Thought neither a) nor b) is wrong grammatically (the only fault is the existence of the superfluous space in b)'s "US’ s"), it is desirable to make the spelling of a possessive form reflect as closely as possible the way it is usually pronounced.

Very few, if any, native speakers of English would pronounce 'US' as in a). Almost all would say it as in b). Hence b) is preferable.

However, I agree with Harry's first alternative wording, which native speakers would be much more likely to use. Another idiomatic possibility is "How important is Vietnam in the foreign policy of the US?". Both these wordings make it unnecessary to use an apostrophe.

'Foreign policy' is the usual form, not 'foreign policies'. For some reason a country's policies towards foreign countries are normally described as though there is only one policy -- I have no idea how this came to be the case, it just seems to have evolved that way.
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possessive

Post by MamaPapa » Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:24 pm

b), without the superfluous space (as Erik points out) is correct. As used, "US" is an abbreviation and pronounced as "you-ess", not as "us". As a native English-speaker and US inhabitant, I would probably say "How is Vietnam of importance in the USA’s foreign policies?"

I agree, to an extent, with Erik about the singular form of "policy"---but only if it is being applied to a single government. For instance, as Quoc has phrased the question in his original posting, I would infer his meaning as "how is the country of Vietnam important in US foreign policies towards other countries, perhaps including Vietnam". The US has different foreign policies towards different countries. Some of the USA's foreign policies, particularly those in Southeast Asia, may be greatly influenced by the USA's relationship with Vietnam----others, perhaps not so much.

The phrasing of the question is at issue: I read Quoc's question to mean "how" and would respond as "economically important" or "politically important" or the like. I read Harry's question as "how much" or a superlative phrasing and would respond as "very important" or "of little importance" or similar degree of importance.

Hope this helps!
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Post by Shelley » Wed Nov 29, 2006 9:41 pm

This sounds like a job for POSSESSIVE MAN!
He comes in the night,
With marker and Wite-
Out,
Correcting the misplaced apostrophe!
Right K. Allen?
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Post by kagriffy » Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:19 am

"He," Shelley??? I think Possessive WOMAN is alive and well in the form of Lynn Truss, the author of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves." She is the one who wanted to deface the movie poster for "Two Weeks [sic] Notice" by adding the missing apostrophe!!!! Thanks for thinking of me, though.
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Springfield, Illinois (USA)

possessive

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:44 am

Devoted to commas is K. The gallons
of ignorant ink-dots are riling.
K is plangent -- despairing -- reviling:
"The Griffys and Allens
will flay with their talons
all the morons that think they're beguiling!"
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possessive

Post by Quoc » Thu Nov 30, 2006 7:54 am

Hi,

What is the difference in meaning between:

1. How important is Vietnam in US foreign policy?

2. How important is Vietnam in the US foreign policy?

Quoc
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:08 pm

Quoc,
why not say...
2. How important is the Vietnam in the US foreign policy?
If you can answer that for yourself, you'll get the difference.
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Post by Quoc » Fri Dec 01, 2006 7:59 am

Hi,

I'm thinking about the use of the article here. I don't know when I should use the article.

Could you tell me the difference?
Q
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Dec 01, 2006 10:01 am

I'd focus on the singularity of the object. US foreign policy is not a monolithic singularity, and would not be referred to as such.

(What WAS the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey? The knowledge of good and evil?)
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Post by hsargent » Fri Dec 01, 2006 2:50 pm

I've noticed that the article "the" or "a" is often left out with Europeans.

Ex.

I went to hospital.

I went on holiday.

With your sentence, it is optional to use "the" or not. I would leave it out because US Policy is not singular.
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Post by Quoc » Sat Dec 02, 2006 12:09 pm

Hi,

You wrote:

With your sentence, it is optional to use "the" or not. I would leave it out because US Policy is not singular.

I don't agree with US Policy is not singular. Why did you say that? I think US Policy is not singular can be considered as a countable noun. Thus, with my sentence, I can use either the or a according to my intended meanings.

Is that right? If not, what wrong?

Quoc
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Sat Dec 02, 2006 1:23 pm

Quoc,
Let's say United States foreign policy is "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You".
That is a singular policy and would be referred to as the US Policy.
Instead, United States foreign policy is a vast, complex, inconsistent, as-close-as-you-can-get-to-non-policy Policy and would not ever be referred to as the US foreign policy.
If you insist on grammatical correctness, knock yourself out, use the. If you want to make sense to your listener or reader, leave it out.
Concerning Erik's evolution of policy as singular, I think that such words refer to pluralities as milieu...singular groupings. (US military action, US foreign investment)

Quoc,
I wish all students would be as clear-thinking and curious as you are.
I eagerly anticipate your questions about hyphenation and the differences in meanings between phrases with- and without hyphens. No. It is the answers I am eager to see!
I hope you have Lynn Truss's book, EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES with is chapter on this "Little Used Punctuation Mark".
Jim
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Post by kagriffy » Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:28 pm

OK, Shelley, I'm going to have to put my POSSESSIVE MAN uniform on one more time. Today, I had to drive my roommate to work, because his car broke down. He works at one of Illinois' fine correctional centers (as a Food Service Supvervisor). After I dropped him off, as I was pulling out of the parking lot, I saw the following sign: "Buckle up for safety. Its [sic] the law in Illinois." It took all my resolve not to stop my car, run over to the sign with a black marker, and add the missing apostrophe!!!! (OK, actually, all it took for me not to do that was the imposing guard tower with armed Corrections Officers. I was afraid they might shoot first and ask questions later!)
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K. Allen Griffy
Springfield, Illinois (USA)

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