Double genitive - friend of my brother's

Sparrow22

Senior Member
Argentina-Spanish
Hello everybody:
I have a question about the genitive and the double genitive:

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of Susan.
Yesterday we celebrated Susan´s birthday.

Tom is a friend of my brother.
Tom is my brother´s friend.

I would like to know if modern grammar has approved both ways of saying these sentences (which I gave as an example), for I have been reading in several forums quoting modern grammarians about these questions. My students keep on using: Tom is a friend of my brother (where it should be Tom is a friend of my brother´s, as far as I know), and it is quite difficult to teach them the possessive case and even more the double genitive.
Can you help me with this subject ?

thank you very much !
 
  • biocrite

    Senior Member
    English and Hindi
    Primero te comento que en el habla se suele escuchar "Tom is a friend of my brother's," pero no me parece correcto eso. "Tom is a friend of my brother" sí me suena correcto y también "Tom is my brother's friend."

    Con respeto al cumple de Susan: me suena muy extraño "the birthday of Susan," mientras "Susan's birthday" me suena perfectamente natural.

    Te doy otro ejemplo pare explicar por qué me suena mal "... of my brother's." Mirá la frase: "The fly is sitting on the corner of the table." Aunque "the corner" pertenezca a la mesa, no hace falta decir "table's" porque el "of" ya implica que "the corner" pertenece a "the table."
     

    Wandering JJ

    Senior Member
    British English
    Primero te comento que en el habla se suele escuchar "Tom is a friend of my brother's," pero no me parece correcto eso. "Tom is a friend of my brother" sí me suena correcto y también "Tom is my brother's friend."

    Con respeto al cumple de Susan: me suena muy extraño "the birthday of Susan," mientras "Susan's birthday" me suena perfectamente natural.

    Te doy otro ejemplo pare explicar por qué me suena mal "... of my brother's." Mirá la frase: "The fly is sitting on the corner of the table." Aunque "the corner" pertenezca a la mesa, no hace falta decir "table's" porque el "of" ya implica que "the corner" pertenece a "the table."
    Sin embargo, no dirías "a friend of me" sino "a friend of mine" aunque "mine" quiere decir "of me" :D
     

    Sparrow22

    Senior Member
    Argentina-Spanish
    mil gracias gente ::)) aunque segun dice Biocrite :"Primero te comento que en el habla se suele escuchar "Tom is a friend of my brother's," pero no me parece correcto eso. "Tom is a friend of my brother" sí me suena correcto y también "Tom is my brother's friend."

    No sè si es lo que es correcto o lo que se escucha. La vez pasada en una serie de TV escuche X is a friend of my brother" pero por gramatica eso està mal..... :(lo correcto serìa a my brother´s friend o a friend of my brother´s aunque suene raro... los alumnos me miran como que no entienden nada, escuchan una cosa en TV pero la teacher (que vengo a ser yo) los martiriza con el possessive case. En cuanto a las cosas, "the corner of the table" (eso ya saben que van sin ´s pues las cosas no llevan el genitive). El enlace puesto lo habia visto y eso me generò dudas.

    Les agradezco la respuesta, pero quiero saber què es gramaticalmente correcto --- lo que suena es distinto a lo que dice la gramatica verdad ???:rolleyes::confused:.

    Que tengan un hermoso domingo !!!
     

    rinmach

    Senior Member
    English, Russian
    mil gracias gente ::)) aunque segun dice Biocrite :"Primero te comento que en el habla se suele escuchar "Tom is a friend of my brother's," pero no me parece correcto eso. "Tom is a friend of my brother" sí me suena correcto y también "Tom is my brother's friend."

    No sè si es lo que es correcto o lo que se escucha. La vez pasada en una serie de TV escuche X is a friend of my brother" pero por gramatica eso està mal..... :(lo correcto serìa a my brother´s friend o a friend of my brother´s aunque suene raro... los alumnos me miran como que no entienden nada, escuchan una cosa en TV pero la teacher (que vengo a ser yo) los martiriza con el possessive case. En cuanto a las cosas, "the corner of the table" (eso ya saben que van sin ´s pues las cosas no llevan el genitive). El enlace puesto lo habia visto y eso me generò dudas.

    Les agradezco la respuesta, pero quiero saber què es gramaticalmente correcto --- lo que suena es distinto a lo que dice la gramatica verdad ???:rolleyes::confused:.

    Que tengan un hermoso domingo !!!
    Pues mi opinión es que cuando hay un objeto que sea parte del otro, no se escribe la ´s, pero cuando es un bien del otro objeto y no es una parte, se necesita la ´s.
    The corner of the table: el rincón es una parte de la mesa
    The friend of my brother´s: el amigo no es una parte de mi hermano

    ¿Qué creen Uds.?
     

    The Prof

    Senior Member
    So is it wrong to say "the pen of my aunt"? ;)

    This is a really thought-provoking question, and not one that I have a good answer to. I think that both forms, with and without apostrophe (a friend of my brother/a friend of my brother's), are widely used and accepted, but don't have any solid grammatical rule to back that up.
    I'm sorry - I know that isn't very helpful!
     
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    rinmach

    Senior Member
    English, Russian
    So is it wrong to say "the pen of my aunt"? ;)

    This is a really thought-provoking question, and not one that I have a good answer to. I think that both forms, with and without apostrophe (a friend of my brother/a friend of my brother's), are widely used and accepted, but don't have any solid grammatical rule to back that up.
    I'm sorry - I know that isn't very helpful!
    Well to be honest, I would say that yes, it is wrong to say that. To me (as a speaker of American English) it seems very strange to phrase her possession of the pen without an apostrophe (aside from the fact that it would probably be better to say "my aunt's pen"). Perhaps it's just me :D
     

    St. Nick

    Senior Member
    English
    I could accept "written in the pen of my aunt." Note the definite article "the."

    When the preposition 'of' is used with a possessive pronoun or possessive noun as its object, it doesn't seem to serve as a genitive marker; I take it as meaning 'from the group comprising.' Consequently, we use the indefinite article 'a': ... a friend of mine/his/hers/ours/yours/Claudette's. [An individual counted among one's friends]

    But what happens when the object of the preposition is preceded by an article?

    "A friend of the devil is a friend of mine" Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead guitarist and, evidently, grammarian extraordinaire :rolleyes:).
     

    KingMe

    New Member
    English - American
    I am no expert but this is my two cents:

    The phrase “a friend of my brother’s” is grammatically incorrect, but is so widely used that it is an accepted idiom. “a friend of my brother” is grammatically correct because you only need one genitive to make sense of the sentence, and the other causes redundancy, which is not typically found in grammatically correct English as it is in Spanish (no tengo ni idea vs. I do not have a clue). Both phrases, however, are used when speaking, with the former being slightly more common. When writing, you should never use “a friend of my brother’s” as it is simple wrong.

    As far as phrases such as “a friend of ours/minetheirs,” they are a bit trickier. I do not have the almighty answer, but I have some ideas. First, I believe it is grammatically incorrect, for the same reasons stated above. However, I believe it is used colloquial to avoid expressing actual ownership of a person, as one would do with a thing, such as “my ball.” To hear someone say, he is my friend, could come off as a little possessive and strange.

    When writing: I believe you will find “a friend of ours,” especially in a story with dialogue. But if writing something professional, I would stick with “our friend” to be completely safe.

    But, when all else fails, I turn to Harry Potter, who has given me the correct answer!
    In the 3rd movie, he screams “HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!!!!!!!”
    And I believe that the scene would be a little bit less dramatic and more comical if, while crying, he screamed “HE WAS A FRIEND OF THEIRS!!!!!”

    Thus, I have come to the following conclusion:

    When in the context of a more serious situation/tone, we use the preceding possessive, such as”
    Anger (see above), jealously (he’s MY boyfriend, you -----), extreme happiness (HE’S MY FRIEND!! YAY!!), extreme sadness (how could he do that!? I thought he was my friend! :’(

    When in a slightly more casual context or formal context, the other is used, such as:
    Classiness (ah, yes, the Johnsons, they are good friends of ours), sympathy (he was a beloved friend of ours), conversation (yes, John is cool. He is a good buddy of mine)

    I hope this helps and I would love to hear other people’s opinions!
    But remember: These are just some thoughts of mine, nothing founded, but they are MY thoughts, so hands off! ;)
     

    rinmach

    Senior Member
    English, Russian
    Hello KingMe and welcome to the forums. First of all, your first paragraph discusses the grammatical correctness of the saying, which is a question to which I do not have the answer. I will have to do more research to find out.

    However, I disagree with your second paragraph. "A friend of ours" is grammatically correct, even though, as you point out in your post, it does not fit in many emotional contexts and is better suited to a formal setting. Saying "a friend of ours" is not the same grammatically as saying "a friend of my brother's." A more accurate comparison to the latter would be "a friend of our," which is wrong. "Ours" is not a possessive adjective; rather, it is a possessive noun. Thus, it is correct.
     

    KingMe

    New Member
    English - American
    Hello KingMe and welcome to the forums. First of all, your first paragraph discusses the grammatical correctness of the saying, which is a question to which I do not have the answer. I will have to do more research to find out.

    However, I disagree with your second paragraph. "A friend of ours" is grammatically correct, even though, as you point out in your post, it does not fit in many emotional contexts and is better suited to a formal setting. Saying "a friend of ours" is not the same grammatically as saying "a friend of my brother's." A more accurate comparison to the latter would be "a friend of our," which is wrong. "Ours" is not a possessive adjective; rather, it is a possessive noun. Thus, it is correct.
    ahhhhhhh ya lo veo jaja. thanks! I learned something new and that makes much more sense. I think I just really wanted to use a Harry Potter reference.
     

    St. Nick

    Senior Member
    English
    quiero saber què es gramaticalmente correcto --- lo que suena es distinto a lo que dice la gramatica verdad ???:rolleyes:
    Hi Sparrow

    Tenemos que botar la preconcepción de que la preposición "of" denota posesión en este contexto. Necesitamos pensarlo más en términos de "among," y de ahí hay paz en el mundo.
     

    Wandering JJ

    Senior Member
    British English
    The use of the double genitive or double possessive has been around for centuries and was established in the Middle English period of the language and is therefore considered 'correct'.
     

    heliotropoi

    Member
    DF
    Creo que hay que tomar en cuenta el tipo de relación que se establece entre el poseedor y lo poseido para ver qué está pasando. Hay lenguas que tienen diferentes estructuras para expresar qué tan cercana o lejana es la relación entre ambos.

    La mamá de mi amigo y la pluma de mi amigo serían casos extremos. La mamá jamás dejará de ser suya y la pluma fácilmente pasa a otras manos.

    Si a alguien le interesa puedo averiguar más al respecto.

    Saludos
     

    The Prof

    Senior Member
    Having given it a lot more thought, I feel that both "a friend of my brother" and "a friend of my brother's" are acceptable (in certain contexts), but can convey a slightly different meaning.

    I feel that the first (without apostrophe) is very matter-of-fact, and focuses on the person's status in relation to the other person - perhaps more evident in a sentence such as "a friend of the president": You should be careful what you say to him, because he is a friend of the president (and therefore there might be consequences if you say the wrong thing).
    The second feels to focus more genuinely on the friendship between the two: Please, let me introduce you to Bill. He is a friend of the president's. We met when we were helping out in the run-up to the elections.

    Maybe this is just my imagination - does anyone else feel that this difference exists?​
     

    Masood

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello everybody:
    I have a question about the genitive and the double genitive:

    Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of Susan.
    Yesterday we celebrated Susan´s birthday.

    Tom is a friend of my brother.
    Tom is my brother´s friend.

    I would like to know if modern grammar has approved both ways of saying these sentences (which I gave as an example), for I have been reading in several forums quoting modern grammarians about these questions. My students keep on using: Tom is a friend of my brother (where it should be Tom is a friend of my brother´s, as far as I know), and it is quite difficult to teach them the possessive case and even more the double genitive.
    Can you help me with this subject ?

    thank you very much !
    Hi

    Without checking my grammar books, I would intuitively say that "Tom is a friend of my brother's." is grammatically incorrect.

    If someone wrote "Tom is a friend of my brother's", you could ask "Tom is a friend of your brother's what?" (Your brother's pet hamster? Your brother's teacher? Your brother's wife?, etc).
     

    rinmach

    Senior Member
    English, Russian
    Having given it a lot more thought, I feel that both "a friend of my brother" and "a friend of my brother's" are acceptable (in certain contexts), but can convey a slightly different meaning.

    I feel that the first (without apostrophe) is very matter-of-fact, and focuses on the person's status in relation to the other person - perhaps more evident in a sentence such as "a friend of the president": You should be careful what you say to him, because he is a friend of the president (and therefore there might be consequences if you say the wrong thing).
    The second feels to focus more genuinely on the friendship between the two: Please, let me introduce you to Bill. He is a friend of the president's. We met when we were helping out in the run-up to the elections.

    Maybe this is just my imagination - does anyone else feel that this difference exists?​
    Perhaps it's just a difference in the level of formality, i.e. "of the president" is more formal than "of the president's."
     

    inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    Sin embargo, no dirías "a friend of me" sino "a friend of mine" aunque "mine" quiere decir "of me" :D
    To me (and possibly to me only) the double genitive in English is as correct (and as illogical) as the double negative is correct and illogical in Spanish. Some things just have to be accepted as they are, though I'm usually one of the first to wonder about (and not to know) the why's and wherefore's.
     

    biocrite

    Senior Member
    English and Hindi
    Hi
    If someone wrote "Tom is a friend of my brother's", you could ask "Tom is a friend of your brother's what?"
    Tom is a friend of my brother's friend's friends' French-end fresh-headed friend Fred's friends.

    ---
    Recién acabo de darme cuenta de que se puede decir:

    The brother of Adam's.
    The brother of Adam.
    Adam's brother.
    The brother who pertains to Adam.
    The brother to whom Adam pertains.

    Qué variabilidad!

    Al final Sparrow, para responderte, no creo que haya ninguna respuesta. Ninguna de las dos opciones es más correcta que la otra aunque sí en los EEUU por lo menos, somos varios que seguimos creyendo que "the nose of Adam" suena mejor que "Adam's". Según lo que leí, nunca hubo ningún censo para cerrar el tema, y bueno, así es el idioma. Mostrame un angloparlante que sepa diferenciar con confianza los usos de "which" a los de "that", los usos de "further" a los de "farther" y los usos de "fewer" a los de "less," y yo te busco un hispanohablante que sepa bien cuando las palabras de, que, o, solo, fui, y carácter llevan tilde, y que sepa distinguir las z/s, y/ll y b/v.

    A ver qué dice Wikipedia sobre el tema: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genitive_case#Double_genitive

    Bueno, mientras no haya ningún censo sobre el tema, yo que vos no se lo corregiría a tus estudiantes que solo les vas a confundir más ya que el inglés es bastante complicado (mi humilde opinión, o sea la humilde opinión mía, o sea la humilde opinión de mí). ;)
     

    Wandering JJ

    Senior Member
    British English
    To me (and possibly to me only) the double genitive in English is as correct (and as illogical) as the double negative is correct and illogical in Spanish. Some things just have to be accepted as they are, though I'm usually one of the first to wonder about (and not to know) the why's and wherefore's.
    You and I agree! That's what I was trying to convey in Post #14, but your example of the double negative in Spanish rounds it up nicely.
    :)
     

    juandiego

    Senior Member
    Spanish from Spain
    I daresay the double genitive is also possible in Spanish. See:
    A friend of my brother: un amigo de mi hermano
    A friend of my brother's: un amigo de los de mi hermano. As someone said, among them, belonging to that group.
    Following this logic, it would be impossible the double genitive if there's no any group to select from; as in the mentioned nose case: la nariz de las de mi hermano :cross:. Also following this logic, it makes no sense the double genitive if the first noun (the thing possessed) is preceded by a definite article because it seems to restrict the whole group to the one selected by the definite article: el amigo de los de mi hermano :cross:. All this with a Spanish speaking mind, but, do these two, say, rules make sense to an English mind?
     
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    inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    I daresay the double genitive is also possible in Spanish. See:
    A friend of my brother: un amigo de mi hermano
    A friend of my brother's: un amigo de los de mi hermano. As someone said, among them, belonging to that group.
    Following this logic, it would be impossible the double genitive if there's no any group to select from; as in the mentioned nose case: la nariz de las de mi hermano :cross:. Also following this logic, it makes no sense the double negative if the first noun (the thing possessed) is preceded by a definite article because it seems to restrict the whole group to the one selected by the definite article: el amigo de los de mi hermano :cross:. All this with a Spanish speaking mind, but, do these two, say, rules make sense to an English mind?
    Yes, Juandiego, I can see where you are coming from, (and until someone else puts the spanner in the works), I would say that it makes perfect sense. I just think that you meant "double genitive" where you said "double negative". It was probably me who put you off with my comparison.
    And just to reinforce your theory: A friend of mine could be interpreted as Un amigo de los míos. This does go back to what St Nick was saying about among/belonging to a group.
     
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    juandiego

    Senior Member
    Spanish from Spain
    Yes, Juandiego, I can see where you are coming from, (and until someone else puts the spanner in the works), I would say that it makes perfect sense. I just think that you meant "double genitive" where you said "double negative". It was probably me who put you off with my comparison. And just to reinforce your theory: A friend of mine could be interpreted as Un amigo de los míos. This does go back to what St Nick was saying about among/belonging to a group.
    Thanks for the negative correction and for your input, Inib.
    Coming to think on it again, when preceded by a definite article the double genitive construction would make sense if the thing possessed was complemented by a relative clause explaining something relevant about it: El amigo de los de mi hermano que vino disfrazado a la fiesta [...].
     
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    Irma2011

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    And just to reinforce your theory: A friend of mine could be interpreted as Un amigo de los míos. This does go back to what St Nick was saying about among/belonging to a group.
    ¿Y cómo se explican los casos en que el ‘doble genitivo’ no se utiliza para singularizar a un individuo dentro de un grupo, puesto que no existe tal grupo, como en That husband/sister/house of yours…..”,Did you seethat house of his?” orThat beautiful voice of hers”?

    Parecen servir sólo para enfatizar el poseedor, pero quizá tienen una connotación especial, como de crítica, por ejemplo. Los nativos, sin duda, podréis sentir ese posible matiz y explicárnoslo a los demás.

    Estos son a algunos párrafos que cogí de aquí y allá (muy parecidos entre ellos) y que quizá ayuden a completar las explicaciones que ya se han dado de este uso tan peculiar del inglés :

    -<<Grammarians have sometimes objected to the so-called double genitive construction, as in a friend of my father's; a book of mine. But the construction has been used in English since the 14th century and serves a useful purpose. It can help sort out ambiguous phrases like Bob's photograph, which could refer either to a photograph of Bob (that is, revealing Bob's image) or to one in Bob's possession. A photograph of Bob's can only be a photo that Bob has in his possession, which may or may not show Bob's image. Moreover, in some sentences the double genitive offers the only way to express what is meant. There is no substitute for it in a sentence such as That's the only friend of yours that I've ever met, since sentences such as That's your only friend that I've ever met and That's your only friend, whom I've ever met are awkward or inaccurate.>>

    -<<Despite its apparent redundancy, the double genitive is a well-established idiom--a functional part of the language dating back to Middle English. But if the construction troubles you, just follow the example of grammarians Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey Pullum and call it something else: "The oblique genitive construction is commonly referred to as the 'double genitive.' . . . However, we do not regard of as a genitive case marker, and hence there is only one genitive here, not two" (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2002).>>

    -<<The double possessive construction is sometimes called the "post-genitive" or "of followed by a possessive case or an absolute possessive pronoun" (from the Oxford English Dictionary). The double possessive has been around since the fifteenth century, and is widely accepted. It's extremely helpful, for instance, in distinguishing between "a picture of my father" (in which we see the old man) and "a picture of my father's" (which he owns). Native speakers will note how much more natural it is to say "He's a fan of hers" than "he's a fan of her."
    Generally, what follows the "of" in a double possessive will be definite and human, not otherwise, so we would say "a friend of my uncle's" but not "a friend of the museum's [museum, instead]." What precedes the "of" is usually indefinite (a friend, not the best friend), unless it's preceded by the demonstratives this or that, as in "this friend of my father's.>>
    Authority for the section on "double possessives": The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. Used with the permission of Oxford University Press. Examples our own.
     
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    inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    ¿Y cómo se explican los casos en que el ‘doble genitivo’ no se utiliza para singularizar a un individuo dentro de un grupo, puesto que no existe tal grupo, como en That husband/sister/house of yours…..”,Did you seethat house of his?” orThat beautiful voice of hers”?

    Parecen servir sólo para enfatizar el poseedor, pero quizá tienen una connotación especial, como de crítica, por ejemplo. Los nativos, sin duda, podréis sentir ese posible matiz y explicárnoslo a los demás.

    Estos son a algunos párrafos que cogí de aquí y allá (muy parecidos entre ellos) y que quizá ayuden a completar las explicaciones que ya se han dado de este uso tan peculiar del inglés :

    -<<Grammarians have sometimes objected to the so-called double genitive construction, as in a friend of my father's; a book of mine. But the construction has been used in English since the 14th century and serves a useful purpose. It can help sort out ambiguous phrases like
    Bob's photograph, which could refer either to a photograph of Bob (that is, revealing Bob's image) or to one in Bob's possession. A photograph of Bob's can only be a photo that Bob has in his possession, which may or may not show Bob's image. Moreover, in some sentences the double genitive offers the only way to express what is meant. There is no substitute for it in a sentence such as That's the only friend of yours that I've ever met, since sentences such as That's your only friend that I've ever met and That's your only friend, whom I've ever met are awkward or inaccurate.>>

    -<<Despite its apparent redundancy, the double genitive is a well-established idiom--a functional part of the language dating back to Middle English. But if the construction troubles you, just follow the example of grammarians Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey Pullum and call it something else: "The oblique genitive construction is commonly referred to as the 'double genitive.' . . . However, we do not regard of as a genitive case marker, and hence there is only one genitive here, not two" (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2002).>>

    -<<The double possessive construction is sometimes called the "post-genitive" or "of followed by a possessive case or an absolute possessive pronoun" (from the Oxford English Dictionary). The double possessive has been around since the fifteenth century, and is widely accepted.
    It's extremely helpful, for instance, in distinguishing between "a picture of my father" (in which we see the old man) and "a picture of my father's" (which he owns). Native speakers will note how much more natural it is to say "He's a fan of hers" than "he's a fan of her."
    Generally, what follows the "of" in a double possessive will be definite and human, not otherwise, so we would say "a friend of my uncle's" but not "a friend of the museum's [museum, instead]." What precedes the "of" is usually indefinite (a friend, not the best friend), unless it's preceded by the demonstratives this or that, as in "this friend of my father's.>>
    Authority for the section on "double possessives": The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. Used with the permission of Oxford University Press. Examples our own.
    That's a good question, Irma. Not even the "experts" that you have quoted seem to answer that (unless I've been reading too quickly), and I certainly daren't.
    But you have proven that there are opinions for all tastes. In my own usage, I don't go along with what I've changed to red, but fully agree with the green counterexample.
    Let us know, if in your research, you find an answer to or a theory about your question.
     
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    inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    You've got me thinking, Irma, with your suggestion that in the case you mention (where there is no group) there may be a nuance of criticism. I can't quite make up my mind, and I hope you'll receive more opinions.
    That husband/sister of yours, I think would very often be used with negative connotations. Did you see that house of his?, I think, could very well be used in a tone of admiration (but it could also cover up a good dose of envy!), and I'm wondering about that beautiful voice of hers. The use of beautiful is obviously positive, but what about the rest of the comment? I would definitely use it in "What a shame to waste that beautiful voice of hers" (critical), but I think I might also use it in "I'm looking forward to hearing that beautiful voice of hers again at tonight's recital".
    I'm sorry I've given you no answers, but maybe my comments will encourage someone else to do so.
     

    Irma2011

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    You've got me thinking, Irma, with your suggestion that in the case you mention (where there is no group) there may be a nuance of criticism. I can't quite make up my mind, and I hope you'll receive more opinions.
    That husband/sister of yours, I think would very often be used with negative connotations. Did you see that house of his?, I think, could very well be used in a tone of admiration (but it could also cover up a good dose of envy!), and I'm wondering about that beautiful voice of hers. The use of beautiful is obviously positive, but what about the rest of the comment? I would definitely use it in "What a shame to waste that beautiful voice of hers" (critical), but I think I might also use it in "I'm looking forward to hearing that beautiful voice of hers again at tonight's recital".
    I'm sorry I've given you no answers, but maybe my comments will encourage someone else to do so.
    Thanks very much, inib, for your very elequent 'non-answers'. Coming from you, the chances are that there are none.
    Cheers, and, please correct this English of mine if you find any mistakes in the post.;)
     

    Irma2011

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Thanks very much, inib, for your very elequent 'non-answers'. Coming from you, the chances are that there are none.
    Cheers, and, please correct this English of mine if you find any mistakes in the post.;)
    Hello again, inib. You were kind enough not to mention that the part of my post I now highlight in red doesn't make any sense: 'none' what? no non-answers? Very bad sytanx. My apologies.
     

    inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello again, inib. You were kind enough not to mention that the part of my post I now highlight in red doesn't make any sense: 'none' what? no non-answers? Very bad sytanx. My apologies.
    It's not kindness, Irma. I didn't even notice it, and I got the message perfectly. If we carry on like this, we'll soon be correcting unintentional slips of the fingers like "sytanx".:D
     

    Irma2011

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    It's not kindness, Irma. I didn't even notice it, and I got the message perfectly. If we carry on like this, we'll soon be correcting unintentional slips of the fingers like "sytanx".:D
    OK. Enough of it then. I promise I'll never read what I write twice, that is, I'll never read twice what I write. Oh, my!
     

    The Prof

    Senior Member
    I have come across this while checking out another apostrophe-related issue:

    The possessive form is used in a prepositional phrase beginning with ‘of’:
    • 'Maggie, a colleague of Mary’s, came to the opening of the exhibition. Rufus came too.' 'Who’s Rufus?' 'He’s a friend of my husband’s.'
    I thought it was worth posting as it is from a BBC website:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/youmeus/learnit/learnitv57.shtml
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    What nearly everyone has implied, but no one has explicitly stated, is that the double genitive, when used in explaining human relationships, suggests a certain familiarity between the people involved. In other words, it seems fine to say, "Joan is a friend of mine/Tom's," but not, "Joan is a fan of Katy Perry's." In that case, I would say, "Joan is a fan of Katy Perry."
     

    Wandering JJ

    Senior Member
    British English
    What nearly everyone has implied, but no one has explicitly stated, is that the double genitive, when used in explaining human relationships, suggests a certain familiarity between the people involved. In other words, it seems fine to say, "Joan is a friend of mine/Tom's," but not, "Joan is a fan of Katy Perry's." In that case, I would say, "Joan is a fan of Katy Perry."
    Don't they mean different things?

    Joan is a fan of Katy Perry's = KP think Joan is great.
    Joan is a fan of Katy Perry = Joan thinks KP is great.


    :confused:
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Don't they mean different things?

    Joan is a fan of Katy Perry's = KP think Joan is great. I don't see how you got this... :( "Mr. Feeny was a teacher of theirs," doesn't mean that they taught Mr. Feeny, does it? :confused:
    Joan is a fan of Katy Perry = Joan thinks KP is great. Right.


    :confused:
     

    Wandering JJ

    Senior Member
    British English
    It doesn't work with "teacher" but try this:

    - Ribran is a fan of mine
    - Ribran is a fan of JJ's
    - Ribran is a fan of JJ

    To me, the first two say the same thing but the third says the opposite. Perhaps it's too early this side of the pond or too late your side.

    :confused:
     
    Last edited:

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    It doesn't work with "teacher" but try this:

    - Ribran is a fan of mine
    - Ribran is a fan of JJ's
    - Ribran is a fan of JJ

    To me, the first two say the same thing but the third says the opposite. Perhaps it too early this side of the pond or too late your side.

    :confused:
    I'm confused. Are you saying that the first sentence means JJ thinks Ribran is great?
     

    rinmach

    Senior Member
    English, Russian
    It doesn't work with "teacher" but try this:

    - Ribran is a fan of mine
    - Ribran is a fan of JJ's
    - Ribran is a fan of JJ

    To me, the first two say the same thing but the third says the opposite. Perhaps it's too early this side of the pond or too late your side.
    I don't think I've ever seen the second sentence structure. I wouldn't say, for instance, that somebody is a fan of Obama's. Perhaps I'm wrong? :confused:
     

    inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    It doesn't work with "teacher" but try this:

    - Ribran is a fan of mine (1)
    - Ribran is a fan of JJ's (2)
    - Ribran is a fan of JJ (3)
    To me, the first two say the same thing but the third says the opposite. Perhaps it's too early this side of the pond or too late your side.

    :confused:
    Sorry not to support the Brits here,JJ, but your message confused me. I would use (1) and (2), but I would understand the same from (3), certainly not the opposite.
     

    Barbara S.

    Senior Member
    "It is written in the pen of my aunt" does not mean the same as my aunt's pen. Here "pen" means penmanship - handwriting.
    Is this the kind of question that students have answer on the TEFL exam? Would they be marked wrong if they wrote "I know a friend of John's who works for the mayor." Instead of a "friend of John".
     

    The Prof

    Senior Member
    When I raised the "the pen of my aunt" issue, it was because this is (or used to be) a well-known expression in England. It was, I think, used as a way of drumming into English school children learning French the way in which they must form a French possesive sentence. The full sentence was something like "the pen of my aunt is on the table".
    It is perfectly possible that this was the only context in which it was ever used, but I am not sure.

    As for whether or not students would be marked wrong if they wrote "... a friend of John's" instead of "... a friend of John", I sincerely hope not!:eek:
    To quote Raymond Murphy's English Grammar in Use:

    ... we say 'a friend of Tom's', 'a friend of my sister's' etc:
    -It was a good idea of Tom's to go swimming.
    -That woman over there is a friend of my sister's.
     
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