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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Unhappy confusing 's

    We would say--He is a friend of mine. But what about--"He is a friend of my brother" or "He is a friend of my brother's"?
    Which of the above is correct, my brother or my brother's?
    S.O.S.!


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    #2

    Re: confusing 's

    He is a friend of my brother's

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: confusing 's

    Quote Originally Posted by naomimalan View Post
    He is a friend of my brother's
    Hi,
    I disagree, it should be "He is a friend of my brother".

    Otherwise you could say "He is my brother's friend".

    The apostrophe "s" is a contraction, in this case for "My brother, his friend"

    I know that this can be confusing when one says, for example, "My sister's friend" but this is one of the anomalies of the apostrophe "s". In earlier times there existed an apostrophe "r" for the feminine case as in, "The Queen'r Castle" but this was abandoned, thus making the apostrophe "s" illogical in the possesive case.
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 14-May-2008 at 21:41. Reason: typo

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: confusing 's

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Hi,
    I disagree, it should be "He is a friend of my brother".

    Otherwise you could say "He is my brother's friend".

    The apostrophe "s" is a contraction, in this case for "My brother, his friend"

    I know that this can be confusing when one says, for example, "My sister's friend" but this is one of the anomalies of the apostrophe "s". In earlier times there existed an apostrophe "r" for the feminine case as in, "The Queen'r Castle" but this was abandoned, thus making the apostrophe "s" illogical in the possesive case.
    I have since done some more research into this possessive apostrophe and, although what I have written above is something I have believed for many years, I discover that it is one of several more or less contentious theories concerning the origins of this piece of punctuation;Another notable theory is that it is an abbreviation of "es" as in "Johnnes horse" or "The horse that belongs to John". As far as I can discover there is no real consensus as to what the origins really are except that it came into more widespread use towards the end of the 17th century with the expansion of printing.

  4. #5

    Smile Re: confusing 's

    The expansion of printing particularly in the 17th century began more formal use of 's. And although there is quite a consensus about what the apostrophe is taking the place of, I would argue that it must replacing the old 'change' of ending stemming from the input of Latin following their conquests...Johannes = John's.

    But I'm intrigued: where did you get 'r' from?

  5. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: confusing 's

    Quote Originally Posted by Shakespeare's brother View Post
    The expansion of printing particularly in the 17th century began more formal use of 's. And although there is quite a consensus about what the apostrophe is taking the place of, I would argue that it must replacing the old 'change' of ending stemming from the input of Latin following their conquests...Johannes = John's.

    But I'm intrigued: where did you get 'r' from?
    It was a theory widely discussed (at my school) when I was at secondary school in London in the 60s.


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    #7

    Re: confusing 's

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Hi,
    I disagree, it should be "He is a friend of my brother".

    I have since done some more research into this possessive apostrophe and, although what I have written above is something I have believed for many years, I discover that it is one of several more or less contentious theories concerning the origins of this piece of punctuation
    It isn't quite clear whether you still contend that "He is a friend of my brother's" is incorrect, Bhaisahab. If you do, could you quote your references?
    Mine are as follows:

    English Grammar in Use, Raymond Murphy,CUP Fourth Printing, 1988, Unit 80 (a)
    “[... ] We also say 'a friend of Tom's', 'a friend of my brother's' etc.: That man over there is a friend of my brother's.”

    Collins Cobuild Student’s Grammar, Harper Collins 1991, Unit 27.7
    “You can use a prepositional phrase beginning with ‘of’ to say that one person or thing belongs to or is connected with another. [ … ] After ‘of’ you can use a possessive pronoun, or a noun or name with apostrophe s (‘s).
    He was an old friend of mine.
    That word was a favourite of your father’s
    She’s a friend of Stephen’s."

  6. #8

    Smile Re: confusing 's

    If I might intercede?

    I have a reference that proves the viability of the 'double possessive'. As far as I'm concerned: 'a friend of Tom's' jarrs on me. I don't like it, but it is grammatically correct. The reasoning behind it is related to the use of the possessive forms 'mine' and 'yours'...i.e, there is nothing wrong with saying: 'a friend of mine', so there is technically nothing wrong with saying: 'a friend of Tom's' because both end with a possessive form. (Fowlers Modern English Usage 1998).

    Any use?

  7. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: confusing 's

    Quote Originally Posted by Shakespeare's brother View Post
    If I might intercede?

    I have a reference that proves the viability of the 'double possessive'. As far as I'm concerned: 'a friend of Tom's' jarrs on me. I don't like it, but it is grammatically correct. The reasoning behind it is related to the use of the possessive forms 'mine' and 'yours'...i.e, there is nothing wrong with saying: 'a friend of mine', so there is technically nothing wrong with saying: 'a friend of Tom's' because both end with a possessive form. (Fowlers Modern English Usage 1998).

    Any use?
    OK, there is nothing grammatically incorrect about the double possessive in
    "He is a friend of my brother's" but there is equally nothing incorrect about "He is a friend of my brother". Also, I think that in the first the 's is superfluous and , to me, jarring.


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    #10

    Re: confusing 's

    Originally Posted by Shakespeare's brother,
    there is nothing wrong with saying: 'a friend of mine', so there is technically nothing wrong with saying: 'a friend of Tom's' because both end with a possessive form. (Fowlers Modern English Usage 1998).
    Could you copy out for us the exact passage of Fowler's (oops, sorry!!!)plus page reference where it says "there is 'nothing wrong' (!) with saying a friend of mine....a friend of Tom's". In my copy of Fowler's (same edition, p.410) it says that this structure is "a recognized idiom" - for me not the same thing as the notion of "nothing wrong with".
    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    OK, there is nothing grammatically incorrect about the double possessive in
    "He is a friend of my brother's" but there is equally nothing incorrect about "He is a friend of my brother". Also, I think that in the first the 's is superfluous and , to me, jarring.
    Actually bhaisahab, I asked you (three messages higher up)if you could quote your references in support of your claim that "there is nothing incorrect about He is a friend of my brother".

    You will have seen that I myself quoted two very reliable sources in detail. As long as you have not given us in as much detail your own references in support of the structure you favour, (He is a friend of my brother), I would suggest to those students wanting to know which of the two structures they should use, that they use the one with the 's given by the grammar books.

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