Exercise 21. Try to guess the meaning of the underlined parts of these sentences from the context

1. He made a lot of pie-in-the-sky promises that I knew he wouldn't keep.

2. The actors gave a very run-of-the-mill performance, and the critics expressed their disapproval in their reports the following day.

3. We went to a number of out-of-the-way places that few tourists had visited before.

4. My good-for-nothing brother just sat in front of the TV while I did all the ironing.

5. He lived a hand-to-mouth existence, surviving on just a few pounds a week.

6. Behind-the-scenes negotiations were going on between the diplomats, away from the public eye.

7. She stayed quite calm and spoke in a matter-of-fact way about the attack.




One of the grammatical categories of nouns is case.

Case is the form of the noun built up by means of ending, which shows the relation of the noun to the other words in the sentence.

English nouns have TWO case forms – the common case & the possessive case (the genitive case).

IT’S CURIOUS. In the earlier stages English had a more developed system of cases. In Old English there were the following four cases: nominative, genitive, dative and accusative. When a noun was used a subjected of a sentence, it was in the nominative case, the indirect object was in the dative; certain adverbial relations were indicated by means of the accusative case, while others required the genitive. But in the course of time the original nominative, dative and accusative merged into one form with no ending, the common case, except some pronouns which have still preserved distinct forms for nominative and objective. In Modern English there are two cases left and some of the meanings expressed in other languages by means of cases are rendered with the help of prepositions and the fixed word order.

Nouns in the common case in English are characterized by no ending.

e.g. a girl, a boy, a garden, a tree, etc.

The common case of nouns has a very general and indefinite meaning. The noun in the common case may have various functions in the sentence, which are defined syntactically by means of word order and prepositions.

Here are the main examples of case-relations expressed by means of prepositions in English.

Russian Preposition English
Именительный падеж (кто? что?) Родительный падеж (кого? чего?) Дательный падеж (кому? чему?) Винительный падеж (кого? что?) Творительный падеж (кем? чем?) Предложный падеж (о ком? о чем?) – of to – by with about of This boy reads well. The lesson begins at 9 o'clock. The book of the librarian is on the table.   He gave this book to Mary.   The teacher asked the boy many questions. This article is written by the professor. I write with a fountain-pen. I'm fond of reading about animals. She spoke of art, literature and music.


The possessive case represents in Modern English the Old English genitive case but it is much narrower in its meaning and function and cannot render all the meanings of the genitive case.

The possessive case expresses possession with various shades of meaning depending on the lexical meaning of the words & restricted chiefly to nouns denoting living beings. Its syntactical function is exclusively that of an attribute.

e.g. The teacher’s desk is in the middle of the class-room.

With nouns denoting inanimate things and abstract nouns the possessive case relation is rendered by the of-phrase.

e.g. The roof of this house is new.

The possessive case is formed by means of the suffix –‘s or the apostrophe –‘alone.

The suffix –‘sis pronounced:

[z] after voiced consonants and vowels: girl’s, boy’s;

[s] after voiceless consonants: student’s, wife’s;

[iz] after sibilants: prince’s, judge’s.

The noun in the possessive case precedes the noun which it modifies.

e.g. the child’s toys –игрушки ребенка

The possessive case suffix –‘sis added:

1) to the stem of the noun in the singular;

e.g. the pupil’s exercise

the actress’svoice

the child’smother

2) to the stem of plural nouns not ending in – s;

e.g. men’s work

women’s clothes

children’s room

3) proper names ending in – s can take –‘s or the apostrophe alone –‘;

e.g. Mr. Jones’s / Mr. Jones’house

Yeats’s/ Yeats’poems

In both cases suffix is pronounced [iz].

4) with compounds, the last word takes the –‘s;

e.g. his sister-in-law’s car

her mother-in-law’s jewellery

the editor-in-chief’s orders

5) names consisting of several words also take the –‘s;

e.g. Henry the Eighth’swives;

the Prince of Wales’s helicopter

6) –‘s can be added to the initials;

e.g. the VIP’sescort

the MP’s decision

The apostrophe –‘alone is added to:

1) plural nouns ending in – s;

e.g. the students’ hostel

the eagles’ nest

2) classical proper names;

e.g. Pythagoras’ Theorem

Archimedes’ Law


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