colleague of Bruce v. colleague of Bruce's

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ktm

Senior Member
Can anybody explain the difference between:
"colleague of Bruce" v. "colleague of Bruce's".

The sentence is as follows:
Ed knew a colleague of Bruce's through Roddy Martine, who knew everybody of course,
 
  • chat9998

    Senior Member
    English, US
    Hey ktm,

    While you might hear "A colleauge of Bruce's" in informal speech sometimes, I don't believe it is correct. It really should be either Bruce's colleague, or a colleague of Bruce.

    Hope that helps,
    Jeff
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Actually if you check Fowler's Modern English Usage he covers this under a section called "A phrase of Coleridge" and comes down clearly on the side of "a phrase of Coleridge's" as, if memory serves, "having the benefit of being English."

    'A colleague of Bruce' would make sense if Bruce was a color, or a material out of which one could construct colleagues, etc. As a substitute for 'a colleague of Bruce's' it's what you might call falsely correct, like saying "between he and I."
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks mgarizona, I feel a great deal more comfortable now, Fowler is a farourite of me:p

    New Fowler says this is a double possessive.

    It is normal usage provided the appositional of-phrase is definite and human. So a colleague of Bruce's is idiomatic, a friend of the British Museum's is not.

    I really enjoyed the final sentence:
    It is not easy to explain why such constructions are idiomatic: one can only assert that they are.
     
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