To have, to own. Though some "be" + complement expressions are probably idiomatic (eg be had, see Category:English predicates), this does not seem so. (The definition also would require that the headword included "of".) To include expressions of the form "be" + prepositional phrase would make for a lexical treatment of the grammatical on a massive scale. I suppose that might be good if we are building a machine-translation database for fairly dumb software, but it ill serves human language learners. DCDuringTALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:52, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
This phrase looks peculiar to English; I can't say it this way in Czech. How should I know that this is a valid way of saying "to have", "to own" or "to possess"? Are there other phrases formed on an analogy to "to be in possession" from which the validity of this phrase could be estimated? Like, I see it as straightforward that a car is in my possession or among my possessions, but not that I am in possession of a car. I, a non-native, register "to be in possession" as a peculiarity of English worth learning. I can say "I have a car", "I own a car" and "I possess a car", but I can only say "I am in possession of a car" and not "I am in having of a car" or "I am in owning of a car"; but correct me if I get this wrong.
However, OneLook dictionaries do not have the phrase. --Dan Polansky 23:31, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
I think what's peculiar about English is that we use prepositional phrases a lot. Prepositions seem to be a partial substitute for declension of nouns. They carry much of the grammatical burden in English.
The general structure is "in X of Y". The sense of "in" is something like "in a state or condition of". The focus is on the person who is in the state X, with respect to the object of the state, Y. The sense of "of" seems to be the same as the sense of "of" that applies to the agency noun formed from X: "I am the possessor of Y."
For this one, some close analogs are "in custody of", "in control of", "in command of", and "in receipt of". Similar are "in tenancy of", "in contravention of", "in expectation of", "in breach of", "in violation of", "in need of", "in default of", "in agency of", "in service of". Some of these are common and there are probably many more. Almost all of the states or conditions are sometimes legally or otherwise formally meaningful.
Lexically, the meaning seems to be in the particular senses of "in" and "of"
The idiom, if you could call it that might be in the structure "in X of Y", with X ranging over probably fewer than a hundred nouns and Y governed by the X. That seems much more like grammar and context than something lexical, but perhaps someone can come up with a useful way to present this or another way to look at it. DCDuringTALK * Holiday Greetings! 02:13, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
Move to in possession. As stated, if "be" + prep. phrase is not specially idiomatic, or otherwise of note, then the entry should simply be the prepositional phrase. I suspect there are a lot of "be" entries to be found and moved also. -- ALGRIFtalk 15:28, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
Move to in possession. It's used also without be, for example, "debtor in possession" (as a modifier).--达伟 15:13, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
I !vote in support of deletion, but I think the definition of "in" is in need of another sense, whereby the meaning of this could be easily derived from the definitions of its separate components. I am in agreement with DCDuring that this is grammar rather than idiom, but I am in doubt over whether "in X of Y" is really distinct from the general sense "in a state of", where "X of Y" is the object of the preposition and "of Y" simply modifies "X". Perhaps I am just in denial about subjectivity turning Wiktionary into a phrasebook, which may be unavoidable since, by design, nobody is in charge of the wiki. (Not being a linguist, I am in want of a way to explain "in a state of" without using "in" circularly. This is probably the reason for the inadequate choice of "pertaining to" in sense #4.) ~ Ningauble 22:19, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes. It is a figurative sense of "in". "In" isn't really all that easy to define rigorously even in a physical sense. MWOnline doesn't bother trying to define in terms of other prepositions: they use "non-gloss definitions" beginning "A function word ....". We obviously don't learn the most basic grammatical terms from dictionaries. DCDuringTALK * Holiday Greetings! 23:05, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
I think this (in "in possession", "in support", "in need", "in denial", "in want of") is the same sense of in as the recently added (by me) "Denoting a state of the subject: He stalked away in anger; John is in a coma". Not 1000% (sic) sure. Thoughts?—msh210℠ 18:18, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Looks good. That is the second sense (of ten preposition senses) listed at Encarta, not the last. I wonder how to characterize under what circumstance nouns appear without an article or determiner, as in "in possession of" vs. "in the throes of" vs. "in a rage" vs. "in rage" vs. "in the rage (to...)". DCDuringTALK 21:10, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
It's more general than nouns, too ("I love eating", "I love to eat", "I adore eating" but not "I adore to eat"). Realistically the best we can do is probably to provide a good, broad set of examples or citations. Equinox◑ 21:17, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Re "how to characterize under what circumstance nouns appear without an article or determiner", does that not depend on countability of the noun?—msh210℠ 16:04, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
I only meant after "in". Certainly countability is associated with it. I was wondering whether there might be some kind of semantic difference in the sense of "in" for the with-article/determiner and without-article/determiner uses. Perhaps not. "In" doesn't seem to change its sense much among "in rage", "in a rage", "in his rage". DCDuringTALK 18:09, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
Delete per existence of "state of the subject" sense of in: SOP.—msh210℠ 19:36, 15 June 2010 (UTC)