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General Writing and Grammar Help/My "car / car's" tire blew out.

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Question
Dear Ted,
I'm not sure if I should use the word "car" or "car's", "phone" or "phone's" in the following sentences, or if both ways are grammatically correct.
1. I must charge my mobile "phone / phone's" battery.
2. My "car / car's" tire blew out.

Answer
Dear Glen:

  
I'm not sure if I should use the word "car" or "car's", "phone" or "phone's" in the following sentences, or if both ways are grammatically correct.
1. I must charge my mobile "phone / phone's" battery.
2. My "car / car's" tire blew out.

*** Both ways are correct.  

For #1, I prefer "my mobile phone battery."  Generally [although there are exceptions in common usage], an inanimate object, such as a phone, cannot POSSESS or OWN anything.  That's why I think that using "phone's" is not a good idea.  However, because of common usage, many people find that showing possession is acceptable.  

For #2, there is a different problem.  A car usually has FOUR tires. Your sentence indicates that there is only ONE tire on your car.  You need to write "ONE of my car's tires" blew out.
Another way of writing the sentence is "One of the tires on my car blew out."  By revising the sentence in this way, you are mentioning that only ONE tire was involved in the "blow out."  And, you eliminate the possession problem by using the prepositional phrases "of the tires on my car."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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