A friend of John or a friend of John's ?

When 's is required ?

Should we write "a friend of John" or "a friend of John's" ?

The 's is required in this case. Grammarians call this construction double genitive or double possessive. They say a double possessive is essential to avoid giving the wrong meaning when a word indicating ownership is placed after of.

The extra possessive is required because "a picture of Jane" means an image of Jane, whereas "a picture of Jane's" is a picture of any sort that happens to be owned by Jane.

9 comments

Nambi 8 years ago

Thanks for the clarification; it was useful to me.


Richard 7 years ago

Thanks for the clarification, yes, I've been puzzled over this for some time. Way to put it very clearly


matwiz 7 years ago

I disagree: You don't say the BOOK OF MATTHEW'S or THE WING OF THE BUTTERFLY'S.

You say: The book of Matthew / The wing of the butterfly.


babar 7 years ago

jhon


babar 7 years ago

jhon babar


Nicaras 6 years ago

I think Matwiz's wrong. You don't say "the book of Matthew's", you say "Matthew's book", because the noun is determined. If it weren't one should say "a book of Matthew's".


stef 6 years ago

You can say He is a friend of my father's and you can also say He is a friend of my father. The first is more common when talking about relationships.


fool 6 years ago

I have a problem with expressing following sentences, is there anybody can help me, please:

Jane is my friend.(I am Peter)

Jane is John's friend too. (I think this's ok)

Jane is John's and my friend.(?)

Jane is John's and Peter's friend.(?),or

Jane is John and Peter's friend.(?)

Which one is correct?


Chas 5 years ago

To fool:

From Rules for Writers, Diana Hacker: "To show joint possession, use -'s (or -s') with the last noun only; to show individual possession, make all nouns possesive." So depending on the sense that you want to give to Jane's friendship with John and Peter, you could use either of your last two constructions. Or you could say, "Jane, John and Peter are friends," but that would be too easy. ;-)

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