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The night of the crime / The crime night

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The night of the crime / The crime night

Unread postby ErinTexTrem » Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:37 pm

In a summary of a short story, one of my students wrote "the crime night" when he meant to say "the night of the crime," but I'm having a hard time explaining why it's wrong.

I feel like we can say "on test day" (the day the test will take place), "on premier day" for a movie premier, "on invasion day" (but I'm not sure about "on the invasion day"...). Does it have to do with whether the event is planned? Repeated? Historical?

If anyone can give me the rules for this, I'd appreciate it. Thank you!

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Re: The night of the crime / The crime night

Unread postby RosalindaPerez » Sun Sep 08, 2013 4:42 am

Dear ErinTexTrem:

Your question is indeed very challenging. I don't think there's any specific rule for this "grammatical concern."

There are phrases that are grammatically correct but sound inappropriate when not used in the right context. Good examples of such phrases are "crime night" and "night of the crime." "Crime night" is more appropriate for usage as a title for a TV program or topic of discourse. "Night of the crime" is more appropriate for usage when talking about the specific time when a crime occurred.


CONTEXT: A TV channel promoting programs featuring crime stories that will be aired on
AWKWARD: Watch night of the crime every Monday.
BETTER: Watch crime night every Monday.

CONTEXT: Narration of a crime story
AWKWARD: On crime night, nobody could confirm the suspect's whereabouts.
BETTER: On the night of the crime, nobody could confirm the suspect's whereabouts.

Though the awkward sentences are grammatically correct, they sound awkward as the noun phrases in question are not being used in the right context. Beginning speakers usually tend to generate such awkward though grammatically correct sentences because of their inexperience in using the language. But as they grow more immersed in the listening, speaking, reading, and writing of the language, they will be more capable of judging in which context certain noun phrases should be used.

Additional Note:
There are noun phrases which are "reversible" so to speak, and can be used conversely in the same context. An example of this is the following:

On the night of the prom, all the young ladies were dressed very elegantly.
On prom night, all the young ladies were dressed very elegantly.

And then there are noun phrases that just can't do away with "of the" such as the following:

Standard: On the evening of the presentation, many people showed up.
Awkward: On presentation evening, many people showed up.

I hope the above explanation helps. :)

Rosalinda Perez

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Re: The night of the crime / The crime night

Unread postby Syl » Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:32 am

Remember that there is an explanation regarding the possessive form in English.

Since the discussion here is about the inanimate possessors, I won't mention the animates (human, etc. - example: The woman's car is red. The dog's leg is brown).

Inanimate possessors
You can't say "The car's door is open", but "The door of the car is broken".

Of course your example, "the day of the test", doesn't have anything to do with the possessive form.

It's a prepositional phrase with "of" versus the use of an adjectival form modifying a noun :
The day OF the test VERSUS the test day. As simple as that :-)


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