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Thread: Get talking

  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Question Get talking

    From Swan's book:
    "One day I happened to get talking to a woman on a train, and she turned out to be a cousin of my mother's."
    Two questions that I have:
    1. Why "mother's" and not "mother"?
    2. Would there be any difference if I use "I happened to talk to a woman" instead of "I happened to get talking to a woman"?

    Many thanks,
    Nyggus

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    Buddhaheart is offline Member
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    Default Re: Get talking

    1. This is the double possessive form: a possessive pronoun Ďmotherísí & a prepositional phrase with Ďof (my motherís)í. Itís used to mean one or part of a larger group. The cousin you met on the train is one of the few your mother has. If she has only one, you would say she turned out to be my motherís cousin.

    2. I think in this context Ďget talking toí could mean Ďstart talking toí. I happened to get talking to means I had the luck or fortune to start talking to. You may substitute "I happened to get talking to" with "I happened to talk to" with a very slight difference in meaning.

  3. #3
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Question Re: Get talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhaheart View Post
    1. This is the double possessive form: a possessive pronoun ‘mother’s’ & a prepositional phrase with ‘of (my mother’s)’. It’s used to mean one or part of a larger group. The cousin you met on the train is one of the few your mother has. If she has only one, you would say she turned out to be my mother’s cousin.
    Thanks, I think I get the point, though need to check it with you. Can I, then, say something like the following:
    "This is a car of John's"? This would then mean, "this is one of the cars John has", which would imply John has more cars than just this one, the information that the sentence "This is John's car" does not, of course, carry. Am I right?

    Thanks,
    Nyggus

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    Buddhaheart is offline Member
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    Default Re: Get talking

    In general we use the possessive form with people more than things when we talk about possession. We donít say "This is a car of John's;" we say "This is John's car." or "This is one of Johnís (many) cars." or "This is one of the cars John has."

  5. #5
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Get talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhaheart View Post
    In general we use the possessive form with people more than things when we talk about possession. We donít say "This is a car of John's;" we say "This is John's car." or "This is one of Johnís (many) cars." or "This is one of the cars John has."
    So it's good I checked it with you. So the sentence: "This is a colleague of John's" would be correct to mean "This is one of John's colleague", am I right?

  6. #6
    Soup's Avatar
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    Default Re: Get talking

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    So the sentence: "This is a colleague of John's" would be correct to mean "This is one of John's colleague", am I right?
    Right. You can get a feel for the distinction in these:
    a. This is a picture of John. <John is in the picture>
    b. This is a picture of John's. <belonging to John's group of possessions>

    c. This is a colleague of John. <same as d>
    d. This is a colleague of John's. <belonging to John's group of colleagues>

  7. #7
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Get talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Right. You can get a feel for the distinction in these:
    a. This is a picture of John. <John is in the picture>
    b. This is a picture of John's. <belonging to John's group of possessions>

    c. This is a colleague of John. <same as d>
    d. This is a colleague of John's. <belonging to John's group of colleagues>
    Thanks. But what this group of possessions may include? Anything? This is not implied by the sentence (b) so it needs context, am I right?

  8. #8
    Soup's Avatar
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    Default Re: Get talking

    In other words, b. John owns the picture. It belongs to him personally. The colleague, on the other hand, doesn't belong to him personally (see c. and d.).

  9. #9
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Get talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    In other words, b. John owns the picture. It belongs to him personally. The colleague, on the other hand, doesn't belong to him personally (see c. and d.).
    Now I understand, thanks.

    In addition, the sentence "This is John's picture" says John is in the picture, as (a) from your list, or that this picture belongs to John, as (b)?

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    Default Re: Get talking

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    In addition, the sentence "This is John's picture" says John is in the picture, as (a) from your list, or that this picture belongs to John, as (b)?
    Both. The structure is ambiguous that way, but context will draw the meaning out:


    A: Do you have any of John's pictures? <not of him>
    B: Here's one. It's of the Alps. He took it when he was on holiday last year.

    A: Do you have any of John's (school) pictures? <of him>
    B: Here's one. This is a picture of him in grade 9.

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