You should always check your oil, water and tyres before taking your car on a long trip.

In the example above, "your" has been used twice. Is the first "your" necessary?

Source: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/trip?q=Trip

  • 6
    There's nothing wrong with using your twice. No rule of grammar says that sentences must always be reduced to the smallest possible number of words needed to convey the intended meaning. In some languages it might be preferable to use the rather than your there, but English isn't one of them. – Peter Shor Aug 28 '16 at 12:26

"Your" is a possessive adjective. The first instance of "your" in the sentence shows ownership of the elements of the car: oil, water, and tyres. The second instance of "your" shows ownership of the car itself. It is grammatically correct. However, replacing the first instance of "your" with "the" is also acceptable and grammatically correct.

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  • 2
    To note, it would sound a little off if you replaced the second "your" with "the", as it breaks the parallelism. As if I might check my car's oil (a Ford, say), water, and tyres before taking "the" car (my car? Some other car in front of me? Etc) on a trip? – BruceWayne Aug 28 '16 at 15:35
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    @BruceWayne: or as if they're suggesting you check your oil, water and tyres, not the car's. Presumably you are some kind of wheeled robot ;-) – Steve Jessop Aug 28 '16 at 18:17
  • Colloquially, if the car was family property and the parent was talking to the child, then your/the would be normal. As in a father talking to his son "You'll want to make sure you check your oil, water, and tires before taking the car on a long trip." – Kevin Aug 28 '16 at 23:43

I would argue no, this is not grammatically correct, as the first "your" should refer to the car's "oil, water and tyres" (see comments). As the sentence originally is written, it implies that the owner of the car requires a pre-trip oil checkup (which is silly, unless you are a robot).

In my opinion, the more correct version of this sentence is:

You should always check your car's oil, water, and tyres before taking it on a long trip.

It's not your oil, water, or types that you're checking; it's your car's. Therefore, the possessive belongs to the car itself, not to you. Furthermore, you can remove the second "your" in the sentence by referring to the car as "it".

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  • Explanation added. – Dan Loewenherz Aug 28 '16 at 19:30
  • I like the way you re-worded the sentence but I disagree that the original sentence is grammatically incorrect. What if the OP is a robot and they really wanted to check their oil, water and tires? You wouldn't say it is not grammatically correct. At most it is ambiguous. But that ambiguity goes away because of context. Of course he is not a robot. – Kodos Johnson Aug 28 '16 at 20:09
  • I like Dan's argument, but agree with Andrew that context tells us we're referring to the car's oil/water/tyres. A native speaker would not question that, nor would it sound incorrect or odd. It would be like if my car won't start and someone asked, "Did you check your battery?" – BuffyOverflow Aug 28 '16 at 20:16
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    You're both right, in that the context here guides the reader/listener to the correct interpretation. However, I stand firm that it's not grammatically correct. As native speakers, we say things that are grammatically incorrect all the time, yet this generally does not impair comprehension. The sentence, judged strictly on grammar, means something different than what is intended. – Dan Loewenherz Aug 28 '16 at 20:27
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    @Au101 Good points all around. You've managed to convince me. :) – Dan Loewenherz Aug 28 '16 at 21:53

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