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This dog is a friend of mine's.

Apparently the apostrophe (plus the "s") is modifying the whole phrase "a friend of mine" even though it looks as if it's modifying only "mine". (mine is already a possessive so it wouldn't make sense to add an apostrophe to it)

My question is "How do we call this use of the possessive?".

BTW, it seems that we cannot say "This dog is my friend's." so we're forced to use the above construction or something like "This dog belongs to a friend of mine". (objective case)
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Comments  (Page 4) 
CalifJimAre we all in agreement that the top two would never be used?
I agree [Y]
CalifJim a rule of grammar that double genitives cannot be made possessive.
Hmmm, if you made a double genitive possessive, would it not then be a tripple genitive? Emotion: thinking
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Grammar GeekWhat is Peter doing with that dog?
Oh, it's a friend of his's.
What is Miranda doing with that dog?
Oh, it's a friends of hers's.
What are you doing with that dog?
It's a friend of mine's.
Are we all in agreement that the top two would never be used?

If the last sentence is acceptable, then the top two are acceptable.

Grammar GeekWhat is Peter doing with that dog?
Oh, it's a friend of his's.

What is Miranda doing with that dog?
Oh, it's a friends of hers's.

What are you doing with that dog?
It's a friend of mine's.

Are we all in agreement that the top two would never be used?
[Y] - A.

I don't think we can blame the difference in acceptability on the double-s, because we've all learned to accept the sound of "the Joneses" and "the Jones's dog."
Yoong Liat
Grammar GeekWhat is Peter doing with that dog?Oh, it's a friend of his's. What is Miranda doing with that dog?Oh, it's a friends of hers's.What are you doing with that dog?It's a friend of mine's. Are we all in agreement that the top two would never be used?
If the last sentence is acceptable, then the top two are acceptable.
I'd be more inclined to argue the converse of that argument.
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Avangibecause we've all learned to accept the sound of "the Joneses" and "the Jones's dog."
Speak for yourself! Anyway it's not the Jones's dog; it's the Joneses' dog. HAH!

But I'm afraid you have just opened another can of worms.

-- What is that chewed-up thing on the floor?
-- It's a dog toy. Actually, it's a friend of the Joneses''s dog's.

a friend of mine
a friend of the doctor's

a friend of Albert's
a friend of Albert's's dog !

a friend of the Joneses'
a friend of the Joneses' 's dog !
a friend of the Joneses' 's dog's toy !!

Anyone care to go one more level deep into this swamp?

CJ
CalifJimAnyone care to go one more level deep into this swamp?
I don't think anyone else has the Boots for it. Emotion: shake
CalifJimAnyone care to go one more level deep into this swamp?

The underlying grammatical explanation lies with the contrast between what's called the 'head genitive' construction and the 'phrasal genitive' construction. Genitive noun phrases are usually marked as such by the addition of an 's suffix to the head noun, and these are called head genitives, e.g. "Edward's daughter". It's also possible for the marking to be located on the last word of a post-head dependent, and these are called phrasal genitives, e.g. the oblique "the King of England's daughter", where the head of the genitive NP is "King", but the suffix 's attaches to "England", the last word of the phrase "the King of England".

Back to 'dog': in the head genitive construction "my friend's dog", there are two genitives: the pronoun "my", and the noun "friend's" - here the 's suffix is on friend. But in the phrasal genitive "a friend of mine's dog", the two genitives combine in the single word "mine's" where, this time, the suffix 's attaches to "mine", the last word of the phrase "a friend of mine". In other words, "mine" has a double case marking (i.e. a double genitive meaning).

So what's wrong with "This dog is a friend of mine's", where we understand that the dog belongs to a friend of mine? The answer is that 50% of the reason for the double case-marking of genitive "mine's" is to allow for a following noun that indicates what it is that my friend owns (the other 50% relates to the fact that the owner of the animal is a friend of mine). But the following noun is missing here, so the genitive is only doing half its job, and that's why it's not acceptable to most speakers. An acceptable alternative, with a following noun, would be "This is a friend of mine's dog". You could also say "This dog is my friend's", which in full means "This dog is my friend's dog", where "friends" and "dog" have, in a manner of speaking, been fused together into the single word "friend's".

The trouble is that if we accept "This dog is a friend of mine's" as being grammatical, we must also accept "This dog is a friend of his's/hers's/yours's" which is definitely odd (especially the pronunciation). One solution might be to mark it as a bare genitive, "This dog is a friend of his'/hers'/yours', but though the double genitive meaning is clear in writing, as spoken it's completely lost because it's identical with the single genitive "This dog is a friend of his/hers/yours", which of course has a different meaning. So there's no mileage in that either.

Ivanhr also made a point about consistency, citing the example "I'm going to the doctor's". This is fine because a noun following a genitive noun can be omitted where the context makes it obvious: "I'm going to the doctor's (office)", "We ate at Bert's (restaurant)", "I'm going to the dentist's (surgery)", "We visited St Paul's (Cathedral)", and many others like that where the genitive refers to premises or establishments.

Sorry for that long reply, but it's quite a big topic, even when precised!

Incidentally, as you can see, I prefer the term 'genitive' to 'possessive', but that's another story!

BillJ
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BillJSo what's wrong with "This dog is a friend of mine's"
Hi, Bill.

While your article is rich with ways of looking at things, it lacks the usual concluding pronouncement. Are you for it or agin' it?

I agree that "I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine's dog" makes the double genitive pill easier to swallow, but are you on board with "It's a friend of mine's." ??

Happy New Year! - A.

Edit. I do have a small problem with your principle argument:

This is Joe's dog. 100% of the purpose of this possessive is to provide for the following noun.

Do you see this? This is Joe's. (no following noun)

This dog is Joe's. (no following noun)

Do you see this? This is mine. 100% of the purpose of this possessive is to describe the subject.

This is a friend of mine's. If the word "mine's" has a 50 - 50 function as a double genitive, and the second 50 is for a following noun, and the structure is damaged when that noun precedes the possessive; why isn't there a corresponding damage to structures with single genitives when the following noun fails to show?
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