1. I was looking through a reference source and it in, it had some examples of double possessives.

I am wondering why in the examples below, we cannot say "a friend of my uncle" but have to say "a friend's my uncle's" The source seemed to say that the second phrase in quotes is the right one because it is basically saying "my uncle's friend." OK, but I cannot quite dispel the notion the former phrase in quotes can be the right one. (Sorry, if I used the word "one" indiscriminately.)


2. Can you check these two sentences and tell me which verb is right?

1. When was/is the last time you went shopping?

2. When was/is your birthday?
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Comments  (Page 2) 
AnonymousI would consider this not only poor grammar, but highly stilted and inferior in all but the most colloquial of circumstances.

Hello Anon

Further to Mister M's explanation, I can confirm that the double possessive is alive and well in British English. You may find it in both formal and informal contexts.

It may seem illogical at first glance; but we can take the "of" in such structures to mean "from among" or "belonging to the set", e.g.

1. I gave her a necklace | of my wife's →

2. I gave her a necklace | belonging to the set {my wife's (necklaces)}.

An analogous "double possessive" structure is "[an] X of [his] own", as in the title of Virginia Woolf's novel:

3. A Room of One's Own.

There also seem to be some similarities to partitive de in French:

4. J'ai acheté du pain.

(Lit. "I (have) bought of-the-bread", meaning "I (have) bought some bread".)

I have seen people use 'the' as in the lover of mine. Could it be right? If so, what does it mean?
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