I have a question about the appropriate use the possessive pronoun "mine" over the possessive determiner "my".

For example, I thought of the sentence below. - Your dog attacked mine!

It is no doubt a better construction than: - Your dog attacked my dog! Which sounds somewhat awkward in comparison.

However, if there isn't a possessive determiner preceding it in a sentence: - A wild dog attack mine! It sounds jarring and not as natural as: - A wild dog attack my dog or - My dog was attacked by a wild one.

I couldn't find a rule that would help me with this. So fellow memebers, is it still correct to use the possessive pronoun (mine) in the case above, or can it only be used if a possessive determiner (my) is used before it?

Many thanks!

  • "A wild dog attacked mine" (the "ed" is needed) makes me think of "A wild dog attacked my wild dog". Contrast to "A dog attacked my cat" which would not be understood correctly if changed to "A dog attacked mine". – AdrianHHH Sep 8 '16 at 11:57

Your dog attacked my dog

This does not sound awkward if it's possible the dog could have attacked something other than your dog. Even if your dog could only attack my dog, it sounds fine if you want to emphasize the fact that it was my dog that got attacked or just make sure you are understood clearly, as you might want to do if you are exasperated or assertive.

A wild dog attacked mine!

You're kind of in the same situation as if you said this:

A wild dog attacked it!

What is it? A previous sentence would have to determine that. So it's just a matter of context or previous sentences providing an antecedent for the pronoun.

However, mine and similar pronouns are used in place of it only if you really need to have the question of "who's X" or "which X" answered, which you might if you mention something else in between a my X. For example:

My poodle was outside, and a wild dog attacked him.

We already know it's your poodle because of your use of my, so saying "a wild dong attacked mine" makes it seem like you are trying to say something else is yours. But this:

I took my dogs out along with Willie's pack of dogs, but a wild dog attacked mine.

In this case, there are two packs of dogs, and we use mine to indicate we mean the pack belonging to me. If we use them then we don't know which pack I'm talking about.

  • Thanks for your explanation LawrenceC. If I may add a few follow up questions, why can't 'mine' refer to the dog? Is it necessary to have a adjectival possessive to clearly determine the noun being referred to? Also, how can I reword 'A wild dog attack my dog' to make it sound better? – JUNCINATOR Sep 10 '16 at 3:16

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