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A friend of mine wrote this sentence in Japanese:

彼女のどんな困難からも逃げない態度を尊敬しています。
'Her attitude of not running away from any hardships is something I respect.'
'I respect that she has this attitude of always sticking to her guns.'

If I change the here to , would it be grammatically correct? If so, what would it mean?

彼女 どんな困難からも逃げない態度を尊敬しています。

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There are many instances where の and が could both technically be used, but where one is more natural-sounding (or seems more relevant to the intent of the sentence) than the other. I'd think I'd say that this is probably one of those situations, though I'd never say it the second way, personally; I'd always use の.

The clause 「彼女がどんな困難からも逃げない」 is most certainly grammatically correct and natural, but when you change it to modify the word 「態度」, the structure of the phrase changes to be 「彼女のどんな困難からも逃げない態度」, because you're talking about her attitude (hence the 「彼女の」).

You can rewrite it like this to see how the modification works:

彼女の(どんな困難からも逃げない)態度

「の」 is really the natural particle to follow 「彼女」 here--if you replace it with 「が」 it sounds a bit strange, since a 「が」 clause doesn't seem like the best way to modify the noun 態度.

Hopefully that explains it well--perhaps someone with a bit more experience in linguistics could give a better reason why the 「の」 version sounds better :)

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So you're saying replacing の with が would make it essentially 「彼女が態度」 which is a bit odd. –  silvermaple Jan 16 '12 at 22:13
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Not exactly. Replacing の with が would break up the clauses differently, something like this: (彼女がどんな困難からも逃げない)(態度). But that sounds a bit strange--perhaps you could say it's similar to saying "I respect the attitude of her never running away from any hardships" (which sounds strange) versus "I respect her attitude of never running away from any hardships" (which sounds normal). Since the emphasis is on her attitude, it seems like 「彼女の態度」 should be the base clause from which everything else is built up within this sentence. –  NattyBumppo Jan 16 '12 at 22:25
    
Oh I see! Brain gymnastics O.O –  silvermaple Jan 16 '12 at 22:39
    
I guess my confusion came from the fact that in english the more natural way to say it would be like this : "She has this attitude of not running away from any difficulty, which I respect." which uses "has"... But in the original japanese sentence there is no verb connecting 態度 to 彼女. however, what would this mean: 彼女が態度を尊敬しています。 Following your suggestion, it would mean (I) respect the attitude of her. But does the が supply the "of"? (perhaps this a pointless line of reasoning to follow...) –  yadokari Jan 16 '12 at 23:44
    
「彼女が態度を尊敬しています」 would not be correct (modern) Japanese, since there's no verb for が to use--が is the marker for the grammatical subject of a verb, but there is no such verb here. If you want to leave out the verb clause 「どんな困難からも逃げない」 entirely, then you must use の:「彼女の態度を尊敬しています」. –  NattyBumppo Jan 16 '12 at 23:56
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