Discussion:
A friend of Paul's
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D.M. Procida
2015-08-27 09:39:12 UTC
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"He is Paul's friend" = "He is the friend of Paul"

Or: "Paul's threatening behaviour" = "The threatening behaviour of Paul"

But sometimes, we don't say "of Paul", we say "of Paul's".

"He is a friend of Paul's". Of Paul's what?

I don't feel this can be just another version of "He is a friend of
Paul" with an apostrophe-s tacked onto it for some reason, but is in
effect "He is one of Paul's friends", i.e. "He is a member of the
collection of Paul's friends".

What is the history of this formation?

Thanks,

Daniele
Peter Moylan
2015-08-27 10:34:10 UTC
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Post by D.M. Procida
"He is Paul's friend" = "He is the friend of Paul"
Or: "Paul's threatening behaviour" = "The threatening behaviour of Paul"
But sometimes, we don't say "of Paul", we say "of Paul's".
"He is a friend of Paul's". Of Paul's what?
I don't feel this can be just another version of "He is a friend of
Paul" with an apostrophe-s tacked onto it for some reason, but is in
effect "He is one of Paul's friends", i.e. "He is a member of the
collection of Paul's friends".
What is the history of this formation?
It's called the "double genitive", and it seems to come up regularly in
this newsgroup. There's a fairly good description at

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-dou3.htm
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2015-08-27 14:15:28 UTC
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Post by Peter Moylan
Post by D.M. Procida
"He is Paul's friend" = "He is the friend of Paul"
Or: "Paul's threatening behaviour" = "The threatening behaviour of Paul"
But sometimes, we don't say "of Paul", we say "of Paul's".
"He is a friend of Paul's". Of Paul's what?
I don't feel this can be just another version of "He is a friend of
Paul" with an apostrophe-s tacked onto it for some reason, but is in
effect "He is one of Paul's friends", i.e. "He is a member of the
collection of Paul's friends".
What is the history of this formation?
It's called the "double genitive", and it seems to come up regularly in
this newsgroup.
This must be about the 15th time this year.
Post by Peter Moylan
There's a fairly good description at
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-dou3.htm
--
athel
Stan Brown
2015-08-27 11:18:43 UTC
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Post by D.M. Procida
"He is Paul's friend" = "He is the friend of Paul"
"He is Paul's friend" can just as well be parsed as "He is a friend
of Paul."
Post by D.M. Procida
Or: "Paul's threatening behaviour" = "The threatening behaviour of Paul"
But sometimes, we don't say "of Paul", we say "of Paul's".
"He is a friend of Paul's". Of Paul's what?
We discussed this within the past couple of weeks. The double
possessive can be justified logically in some cases, but not in
others. It's best to think of it as an idiom.

You ask about history.
http://www.grammarly.com/answers/questions/13917-possession/ quotes
Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage: "an idiomatic
construction of long standing in English -- going back before
Chaucer's time".
--
"The difference between the /almost right/ word and the /right/ word
is ... the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning."
--Mark Twain
Stan Brown, Tompkins County, NY, USA http://OakRoadSystems.com
Eric Walker
2015-08-27 22:52:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by D.M. Procida
"He is Paul's friend" = "He is the friend of Paul"
Or: "Paul's threatening behaviour" = "The threatening behaviour of Paul"
But sometimes, we don't say "of Paul", we say "of Paul's".
"He is a friend of Paul's". Of Paul's what?
I don't feel this can be just another version of "He is a friend of
Paul" with an apostrophe-s tacked onto it for some reason, but is in
effect "He is one of Paul's friends", i.e. "He is a member of the
collection of Paul's friends".
What is the history of this formation?
It evolved to make it possible to distinguish the meanings of such pairs
as:

1) That is a picture of the king.

2) That is a picture of the king's.

In both instances, the "of" is genitive in force; in the first, it
associates the picture with its subject, but in the second, the
additional apostrophe-s genitive form marks the picture as being the
property of the king.
Robert Bannister
2015-08-29 00:55:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Walker
Post by D.M. Procida
"He is Paul's friend" = "He is the friend of Paul"
Or: "Paul's threatening behaviour" = "The threatening behaviour of Paul"
But sometimes, we don't say "of Paul", we say "of Paul's".
"He is a friend of Paul's". Of Paul's what?
I don't feel this can be just another version of "He is a friend of
Paul" with an apostrophe-s tacked onto it for some reason, but is in
effect "He is one of Paul's friends", i.e. "He is a member of the
collection of Paul's friends".
What is the history of this formation?
It evolved to make it possible to distinguish the meanings of such pairs
1) That is a picture of the king.
2) That is a picture of the king's.
In both instances, the "of" is genitive in force; in the first, it
associates the picture with its subject, but in the second, the
additional apostrophe-s genitive form marks the picture as being the
property of the king.
I suppose too that the impossibility of saying "That is a king's
picture" comes into play.
--
Robert Bannister
Perth, Western Australia
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