Need your help with noun phrases...

Could you please tell me, which of the following is correct:

a) nets transformation
b) nets’ transformation

if we are talking about ‘transformation of nets’?
Is possesive case here necessary, or the plural form of the noun is also OK?

Thank you in advance

Hi Sidle Jinks,

If you put the word nets in front of transformation, you are in fact turning it into an adjective and so the ‘s’ is not needed.You would then write: net transformation.

Let me give you another example: A journey of 20 kilometers could be changed into A 20 kilometer journey.


Thank you very much, Alan.
But then another question arises: if we write ‘net transformation’, how can we then distinguish between the transformation of one (single) net and transformation of several (multiple) nets? Or if this is the case, we should explicitly write ‘transformation of a net/transformation of the nets’?

Thank you in advance.


When you use the construction net transformation, you are talking about a process and the implication is that you are talking about transformation of nets (plural). Mind you I have no idea what sort of nets or what sort of transformation are meant here as I’m talking about words rather than meaning. Clearly if you want to particularise, then you would employ one of the articles as in: Transformation of a net or transformation of the nets. In each case you would be referring to a net or the net previously mentioned.


Thank you, Alan, for your explanation, but that was not exactly what I meant.

For example,

People who author web-pages have become aware of what is now known as the problem of protocol of uniform resource locator

It does not sound well because there are too many of’s. We can then restate it:

People who author web-pages have become aware of what is now known as the uniform resource locator protocol problem

It seems better :slight_smile:

Let us suppose that, for example, the first sentence was

…the problem of protocols of uniform resource locators.

And if we try to reformulate it, what will we get:

  1. …uniform resource locators protocols problem,
  2. …uniform resource locator protocol problem,
  3. …uniform resource locators’ protocols’ problem?

Microsoft Word says that the 3rd form is correct, but I do not feel that it is just what I want to say. Another trouble with this is that (1) and (3) have identical Russian translation :frowning:

The thing I would like to get to know is when we use “of”-phrase with one of the nouns being in plural form, how should we then construct the “stacked noun phrase”, and what “stacked” phrases would correspond to “of”-phrases with singular and plural nouns?

Thank you very much in advance.


The trouble for me is that I don’t know the meanings of the specialised/jargon words you are using. In the interest of clarity I would opt for:

uniform resource locator protocol problem,

and I don’t really see the need to distinguish between singular or plural in the stack of nouns before the main noun problem because it (the problem) is associated with the stack of preceding nouns that have turned adjectival. If the need arises to make this distinction, then it would be necessary to expand the whole thing into separarte clauses and abandon the stockpile of nouns.

So let’s take your phrase:

the problem of protocols of uniform resource locators.
and expand it thus:

The problem regarding protocols in relation to uniform resource locators (a uniform resource locator) is …

The point I am trying to make is that there is an assumption that the traffic jam of preceding nouns turned adjectives refer to a plural concept unless you use the example I have shown above. Is that what you meant or am I being too simplistic?


Thank you very much for your patience, Alan, it seems to me I have understood that. But then I have another question: let us suppose we are writing something like theses and we are limited to, for example, 150 word. Using of of’s is not appreciated, because every of is an extra word. And let us then suppose that we have some weird sentence with many of’s. Of course, we can restate it the way you did that, but that also introduces extra words. The way I tried to solve this problem is to use “stacked nouns” (of course it is not good from the stylistic point of view and it decreases Reading Ease Level). And hypothetically we have to distinguish between the singular and plurar. If we turn nouns into adjectives, they become singular (but meant as plural). The question is that is there any legal way to avoid extra of’s and at that distinguish between the singular and plural? Unfortunately, I cannot give an example - I just cannot remember it.

Thank you very much in advance.

Hi Sidle Jinks,

I think I’ll reluctantly have to part company now as there is really nothing more of use that I can contribute. The exigency of having to cut out the of’s and not use additional words to replace them for the sake of not overstepping a word limit for me belongs to another world. Nevertheless I wish you well in your work and if you have a minute, I should be interested to hear more of your activities.

Best wishes


Thank you very much, Alan!