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I know that の is used as a noun modifier. But recently I've come across these pharases 心の強い人,母の作れる料理.

The first phrases will be sth like strong person of heart/mind, which somehow differs from correct meaning strong-heart person (I think it should be 心が強い人). And the second one, since 母 clarify meaning for 作れる (as in 私にできることはない), I think it should be 母に作れる料理.

So why の are used in these case?

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Are you sure that に wouldn't change the meaning in your second sentence? What about 母が作れる料理? – Earthliŋ Jan 6 '13 at 4:45
possibly related: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/4346. This answer also went into this usage of "の" a little bit. – cypher Jan 6 '13 at 5:00
@user1205935 Could you tell me the difference? From what I learned, both に & が in this case mean the same thing. – hatsuyuki Jan 6 '13 at 12:40
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Both could be が without changing the meaning. In this case, though, it is possible to use の in basically the same way without changing the meaning. This の is not the same as the の that you learned as a noun modifier, like in 私の家, but rather the nominative case (主格). I am not an expert on grammar, but there is a lengthy post on this subject here (in Japanese). You can also check it on wikipedia in whatever language you desire.

If you cannot read that page, basically it says that this construction comes from a classical Japanese construction that uses the word order ~の+連体形{れんたいけい}+名詞{めいし}, or some object plus a participle plus a noun. The example given on that page is the old phrase 「嘴の赤き鳥」=嘴が赤い鳥が. In the example 心の強い人, 心 would be that object, の is the particle in question (格助詞), 強い would be the participle adjective, and 人 would be the noun.

If I've made any errors here then please someone who is better at grammar correct me, of course!

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I am not terribly good at grammar, but I think perhaps this usage is limited to dependent clauses. See 大辞林's definition under 1-2. – snailplane Jan 6 '13 at 7:24

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