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Thread: his friend

  1. #1
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Default his friend

    Consider this sentence:

    1-He went out with his friend.

    Logically I think, the sentence implies that: either he has only one friend, or the listener knows who the friend in question is. But I think people often use that sentence when they want to say:
    2-He went out with a friend of his.
    which implies both that he has more than one friend and that the listener doesn't know who that friend is.

    Is the distinction I make between 1 and 2 grammatically correct?
    If it is, do people really use 1 instead of 2?

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: his friend

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan
    Consider this sentence:

    1-He went out with his friend.

    Logically I think, the sentence implies that: either he has only one friend, or the listener knows who the friend in question is. But I think people often use that sentence when they want to say:
    2-He went out with a friend of his.
    which implies both that he has more than one friend and that the listener doesn't know who that friend is.

    Is the distinction I make between 1 and 2 grammatically correct?
    If it is, do people really use 1 instead of 2?
    Re:

    He went out with his friend.
    Usually, in ordinary conversation, the speaker would mention the name of the person in question. One reason he might not is that he doesn't want the listener to know who it is.

    The two example sentences seem quite different to me, so I don't know why anybody would use one to mean the same thing as the other one.

    BTW, you seem to use "listener" when you really mean "speaker". Am I wrong?

    Regards,
    RonBee

    8)

  3. #3
    Anonymous Guest

    Default Re: his friend

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan
    Consider this sentence:

    1-He went out with his friend.

    Logically I think, the sentence implies that: either he has only one friend, or the listener knows who the friend in question is. But I think people often use that sentence when they want to say:
    2-He went out with a friend of his.
    which implies both that he has more than one friend and that the listener doesn't know who that friend is.

    Is the distinction I make between 1 and 2 grammatically correct?
    If it is, do people really use 1 instead of 2?

    It's true that people might use sentence one, which could then make it sound like he has only one friend. However, I don't think people would take it that way. I believe sentence number 1 to simply be a representation of how people actually speak. Even though the sentence seems to say or strongly imply that he has only one friend, I don't think it would be understood that way in reality.

    It could imply that the listener knows who the friend is, but keep in mind it would only imply that. It would not necessarily actually mean that.

    Sentence number 2 is fine. In my opinion it is also a better sentence, given what I have said about sentence number 1.

    Sentence number 2 is better, but let's not ignore the idea that English first language speakers could very well use sentence number 1 and most likely do. And in an everyday context, I don't think it would be taken to mean that he only has one friend necessarily.

  4. #4
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Default

    Thanks for your replies.
    I gather that sentence 1 does not necessarily mean that the listener knows which friend of his he went out with either. In other words, in all cases it could be used instead of 2.

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