DanielWithrow, you are an embarrassement to English speaking people

I’m not positive, but I think it’s from a song by some group.

I’ve also read in Cafe Society threads that it’s based on a television commercial for autombiles bearing the Jaguar brand.

That’s a bullshit argument if I’ve ever seen one. “Red is his name” Red is a noun. “Red’s ball” Red is an adjective. An adjective, by definition, is in place to modify (explain something about) a noun. That John is a proper noun regardless of context does nothing to invalidate the fact that its function in the sentence is as an adjective, however many capital letters you wish to insert in it. “John’s mother is going to the ball” has John as the adjective. “John’s mother’s friend”, to me, puts “'s mother” in with “John” as the adjective. Whose friend? John’s mother’s.


Given that this thread has run its course, I feel no compunction about hijacking it into an even more meaningless grammar discussion.

Note that I don’t remember the entire argument, but I do remember at the time being convinced that “John’s” was a noun in the sentence, and couldn’t even properly be described as a noun functioning as an adjective.

After all, if you posit that possessive nouns are acting as adjectives, then you can turn any adjective in the language into an adverb by the simple expedient of using it to modify a possessive noun.

To use your example, is “red” an adverb? Clearly not. But in the sentence, “The red lightsabre’s force is eeeeevil,” red is clearly modifying the possessive noun lightsabre’s. If lightsabre’s is an adjective, then red is modifying an adjective. And only adverbs can modify adjectives.

I left the discussion unsettled and confused. Although possessive nouns appear to act as adjectives, they are not functionally equivalent. I believe the answer is to view the possessive as a case of a noun, similar to the subjective and objective cases (some language, like Latin, have six and a half cases for each noun). It’s still a noun, but its function in the sentence is somewhat different from the function of the more common subjective and objective nouns.


Ah, but you missed the point that it’s a variant, not the preferred spelling, which is the same in the UK and the US, not to mention Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Daniel, this certainly has its adherents. The most, ah, passionate grammarian I know has made this point frequently, at great length, and with great heat.

Have you ever seen/read/subscribed to The Vocabula Review?

The thing is this, though. A word can have more than one function in a sentence. “John’s mother has a ball”, for example. John is both a noun (we are told of the existence of some person John) and an adjective (whose mother? John’s). So too can a word be both an adjective and an adverb.

I would not diagram a sentence with more than one of those such things if you put a gun to my head:D

Is he from Callingville?

Aren’t loose dogs just easy, rather than running rampant?

gobear, the preferred spelling is not the same in the UK and the US. The Oxford English Dictionary has “behove” as the preferred spelling in the UK, with “behoove” as the US spelling (I only have the Concise Oxford on my desk, that’s what I used to check). So L_C’s statement that “It’s spelt ‘behoves’ where I come from” is reasonable. Because I used a paper dictionary to look up the word, I can’t give you a direct cite (the full OED is available online, but only by subscription, and it ain’t cheap). I did find this http://www.bartleby.com/68/85/785.html though, which I hope is OK.

I know this is a terribly tiny nit to pick, but I didn’t miss your point - rather, I disagreed with it. Anyway, there it is.

I only wanted a bit of fun, and they all got serious on me …

Thank you, the delicious

< drum roll >

Tansu !!

< bow >>

< L_C throws flowers from the cheap seats >

  • < curtain closes >*

Interesting. In looking around various Web sites yesterday, it looks as if this question is far from settled amongst grammar geeks. It’s easier for me to understand if I just say that we’re dealing with the genitive case of a noun, rather than positing some Schrodinger’s Word that is simultaneous noun and adjective, or adjective and adverb. But I’m not sufficiently up on my grammarian geekitude that I can argue the point intelligently.