a friend of his / a friend of him

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Hasselhoff, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. Hasselhoff Member

    Spain (Spanish, Catalan)
    I heard a Spanish friend of mine saying something like "A friend of his said...". It sounded a bit weird to me. Is it possible to use that form? I would rather use "A friend of him".
  2. BONJOURMONAMOUR Senior Member

    No, in English you would say: A friend of his said or simply His Friend said.
  3. caball3ro New Member

    What if I refer to a noun instead of a pronoun?
    For example, should I say "a friend of my dad" or "a friend of my dad's"?
  4. Salsamore

    Salsamore Senior Member

    USA English (Mich. & Calif.)
    Although logic would say otherwise, the more prevalent usage is "a friend of my dad's" although "a friend of my dad" is also common (though less so). I would consider both as grammatically correct.

    In some cases, you can change between the two forms to express different things. An oft-cited example:
    • a picture of his – a picture he owns/possesses
    • a picture of him – a picture that contains his image
  5. neal41 Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA, English
    You can say both. I think the second form is somewhat more common. However, the use of the genitive "dad's" seems illogical to me, so I would suggest to non-native speakers that they use the non-genitive form when possible. With pronouns, as BONJOURBONAMOUR said, you must use the genitive form. Note that you say

    a friend of his
    a friend of hers, theirs, mine, yours, ours

    You can say

    a friend of John's
    a friend of my cousin's

    but you cannot say *"a friend of my mother's cousin's". You have to say "a friend of my mother's cousin". I don't know what the rule is.
  6. caball3ro New Member

    I got it clearer now, thanks for your answers!

    (btw, I'm probably being annoying, but I've just had a doubt whether the sentence above is grammatically correct, so I would appreciate it if anyone corrected me... thanks again :))
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2008
  7. easteralt New Member

    American English
    "A friend of" is a possessive form, so to add the "-'s" to the person is double. It is correct to say "A friend of my dad", but in California we often say "A friend of my dad's" anyway. It is just sloppy English that has become acceptable. I don't know how people in other parts of the country speak, but sometimes it can be quite different.
  8. inib

    inib Senior Member

    La Rioja, Spain
    British English
    In B/E it is correct to say "a friend of his" and "a friend of Peter's", though I agree that it is illogical.
  9. pacadansc Senior Member

    I learned the same: "a friend of my dad's" was considered redundant. We were to say: "a friend of my dad". Nowadays, though, I hear the former more often than the latter in conversation.

    As for "a friend of his", and getting back to Hasselhoff's original question, this construction could be avoided by saying:
    "One of his friends said ..."

    Of course, "His friend said ... " is also correct.
  10. lechuzaderegaliz Member

    Portland, Oregon
    Estados Unidos, inglés
    "Thanks for your answers" is polite and warm and quite grammatically correct. However, "I got it clearer" sounds a little off. One reason is that "got" is the past tense. Another is that "clearer" is an adjective meaning more transparent, brighter or less clouded. You want the adverb, "clearly" in this case.

    "I get/I understand/I see/I'm getting it more clearly now."

    I hope this helps!
  11. pacadansc Senior Member

    I've got it now.
    I think I've got it now.
    It's much clearer now.
  12. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    In the same way that "A friend of mine" is correct whilst "A friend of me" is clearly not, "A friend of John's" and "A friend of my father's" are correct, even if they can sound more awkward than the less 'correct' forms, "A friend of John / my father". Of course, as has been pointed out, it is sometimes better to recast such phrases - "One of my father's friends".

    That this 'double genitive' sometimes 'feels' illogical does not make it incorrect, and certainly does not make it sloppy English, - quite the contrary - though it can sometimes feel awkward : I guess you'd just have to go with what feels 'right' to you.

    This usage always 'feels' right with pronouns, doesn't it ? - "That old car of OURS needs a good wash" (try 'US' !) - and more often than not 'feels' right with singular nouns and names "That dirty old bone of the dog's wants throwing in the bin" (less happy, perhaps, is 'dog'), or "It's about time we got rid of those old toys of Peter's" ('those old toys of Peter' !?)

    Where the wheels do start to come off is when using plural forms, or double nouns - "It's about time we got rid of those old toys of Peter's and Mary's / of Peter and Mary's", "It's about time we got rid of those old toys of the children's" : better maybe to say instead, "It's about time we got rid of the children's old toys".

    Of course, there are usages which don't take this 'double-genitive' and which would be awkward with it - 'The Marriage of Peter and Mary will take place &c.', 'The funeral of Mickey Mouse was held at the Rodents Retreat' (Rodent's / 'Rodents' ... ? Pace Lynne Truss' book 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves', let's please not go there !') in other words, do the events 'belong' to Mary & Peter or to the late Mr Mouse, in any meaningful sense ... ?

    Usage is a quagmire, for while "The Marriage of Figaro" is undoubtedly correct, so also is the title of Browning's poem, "A Toccata of Galuppi's", a title which puzzled me much as a schoolchild until I cottoned on to the 'double-genitive'.

    (The non-'double-genitive' - or whatever it's called - will doubtless gain ground. I am told it is all a matter of word order : expecting to see and hear gentives before nouns, rather than well after them, we adjust accordingly and say "A friend of my Dad" rather than "A friend of my Dad's". The aforementioned Lynne Truss writes of this in that funny-old book of hers.

    We see the same thing happening with possessive clauses - "John is a bore, and HIS / HIM turning up out of the blue really put the kybosh on the party." Whilst 'his' is correct, a genitive is mistrusted before a noun-phrase and the object form 'him' is often preferred.

    Again, in the phrase 'Between you and ME / I' - the subject form 'I' is often preferred because it feels 'right' at the start of a sentence, though the object form 'me' is plainly indicated.

    And Jesus' "Let him who is without sin ... " is often incorrectly rendered as "Let HE who is without sin ... ", because the subject form 'he' seems correct at the head of the phrase ' ... he who Is without sin', whereas the object form 'him' is required after the verb 'Let'. And if you don't believe anyone would write this, just google it and see for yourself ! ... And there's always the title of the Startrek episode['s], isn't there ?!)

  13. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Actually, I would say "a friend of my mother's cousin's" though I would be equally likely to say it without a final "'s".

    Para mí el "doble genitivo" es una forma familiar. "My dad" y "my mother's cousin" son familia. Si Peter Smith es alquien que cononzco digo "a friend of Peter Smith's", pero si es el famoso Peter Falk diría probablemente "a friend of Peter Falk".

    Otro uso "familiar" es algo como "that dog of Peter Falk's" = "el perro ese de Peter Falk", lo cual contraste con "that dog of Peter Falk" = "ese perro de Peter Falk". La diferencia está en cómo pensamos del perro en cuestión.

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