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the leg of the table VS the table leg

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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the leg of the table VS the table leg

Postby SARDORBEK » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:36 am

We know when one noun modifies another noun there are three structures:
a) noun + noun
b) noun + 's + noun
c) noun + preposition + noun.

In general, we can say for things,ideas etc. both
a) the garage door (noun + noun) and
b) the door of the garage (noun + prep. + noun)

But I came across two different examples in two different grammar books:
One says "The leg of the table" < ---- is correct while
the other says both "the leg of the table" and "the table's leg" are incorrect,
only the noun + noun structure is possible ------> a table leg.
I agree that "the table's leg" is incorrect? But as for "the leg of the table"
which structure is more grammatically correct in this phrase:
a) noun + noun or
b) noun + prep. + noun

Many thanks...
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Re: the leg of the table VS the table leg

Postby Alan » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:20 am

Both are possible, but to refer to a specific leg, 'the leg of the table' is more natural, while 'a table leg' would generally mean the leg of any table.

Natural usage in this regard is, however, notoriously irregular: 'the bedroom door', for instance, happens to be much more idiomatic than 'the door of the bedroom'.

A good learners' dictionary should carry this kind of information.
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