Grammatical niceties: the double possessive

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Thu Feb 11 14:40:16 PST 1999

Perhaps I've got too many romance languages, but I've always thought the English double possessive to be silly. Lately it seems I can't read anything without seeing it.

I went to visit a friend of Brian's.

Je suis alle rendre visite a un ami de Brian.

Note that the French has a simple genitive. Why can't we just say I went to see a friend of Brian? In fact, that's what I usually write. But maybe it's a gallicism. God knows I had a pissing match a few years ago with the editor of my book.

-- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

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