# Confusing use of possessive の

This is embarrassingly basic. I've been using の happily for the last year and then I read this sentence and made the mistake of stopping to think about it:

ポケットからきれいな包みのアメ玉を取り出した。 He took a pretty ?? out of his pocket.

Now, I'm assuming that 包みのアメ玉 is "packet of sweets".

When I see things like AのB. I think to myself "Ah! it's a B that has property A" e.g. 私のアメ玉　-> "A sweet that is mine", 青のアメ玉 -> "A sweet that is blue" etc. So these are sweets that are "in a packet".

Then I thought about what happens if I swap A and B: アメ玉の包み and I ask myself "what kind of packet is it?". "Ah! it must be one containing sweets". Or is it "A packet for sweets" i.e just the packet, no sweets. How do I know which is correct?

So I guess the questions are:

1. What does 包みのアメ玉 mean? I think "packet containing sweets".
2. What does アメ玉の包み mean? I think "sweet wrapper, or the packet that sweets would go in but without the sweets".
3. If I want to say "a bundle of leaflets" it's チラシの束 but if I want to say "a packet of sweets" it's 包みのアメ玉. Why does the order of the object, and the way the object is arranged, differ between these two examples?
• This is not a basic question.
– user7644
Mar 26, 2016 at 22:23
• その例文に関してのみ言えば、「きれいな」+「包みのあめ玉」でなく、「きれいな包みの」+「あめ玉」(a candy in beautiful wrapper)（＝きれいな包みに入ったあめ玉 / きれいな包みにくるまれたあめ玉, a candy wrapped in beautiful paper）という感じで考えてみるとよいと思います Mar 27, 2016 at 4:45

I would say 包みのあめ玉 and あめ玉の包み refer to almost the same thing in most cases. Literally, the former is closer to "packed sweets" and the latter is closer to "pack of sweets". (Bold text denotes the main (modified) noun). They are different, but interchangeable in many sentences.

"Pack of sweets" usually means a pack full of sweets, not an empty package itself, right? The same can be said for あめ玉の包み, too. To specifically refer to the package part without any contents, we say 包み紙【がみ】, 袋の部分, etc.

You can say 束のチラシ as well as チラシの束 (literally, "bundled leaflets" vs "bundle of leaflets").

That said, I don't think 包み and 束 are common no- or na-adjectives. 包みのあめ玉 and 束のチラシ are far less common than あめ玉の包み and チラシの束.

Some of your confusion may simply be due to misgrouping constituents here:

[きれいな包みの]アメ玉

'candy with a pretty package'

It is ambiguous, though, with this alternative reading:

きれいな[包みのアメ玉]

'pretty packaged candy' (i.e. pretty candy that's the packaged kind of candy)

The first seems much more likely given no additional context, at least to my ears.

1. 包みのアメ玉 would not be a package of sweets, but the kind of sweets that come in a package. Again, though, the reading can change for きれいな包みのアメ玉.

2. アメ玉の包み is indeed a package of sweets.

3. The difference here is whether you're talking about the group of things or the things that come in a group. チラシの束 is indeed 'bundle of leaflets', but アメ玉の包み can just as well be 'package of sweets' - 包みのアメ玉 is instead 'packaged sweets', just as 束のチラシ is 'bundled leaflets'.

1. 包みのアメ玉 means wrapped sweets. 包み is parcel or wrapped. アメ玉 is literally translated to sweet ball.
2. アメ玉の包み means the wrapper that contained the sweets. So it could be taken as just a sweet wrapper without the sweet inside.
3. This one is slightly confusing. It all depends on what the context is and what you are talking about. It also depends on the order of the words. If it is 包みのアメ玉, 包み is pointing at アメ玉 as it comes before の. If it is アメ玉の包み, アメ玉 is pointing at 包み as it comes before の. アメ玉の包み means the sweet's wrapper.

I hope this helps!