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"I should rather say a very particular friend of your son's."

Not "of your son"? Why should I use possessive case in this statement?

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    You'll find the answer in the Q&A under double possessives or double genitive Also a useful explanation at: grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/possessives.htm Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 16:21
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    The 's is called the genitive marker. The of phrase is not a genitive case marker, but just a complement of "friend". Note that if you replace "your son's" with a personal pronoun, it would have to be a genitive one ("a friend of mine / yours / ours / theirs) not an accusative one ("a friend of me / you / us / them") which proves that the genitive marker is not the of phrase, but on the word that is complement of "of".
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:04
  • @BillJ, I'll take it into consideration Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:32
  • @RonaldSole, I've read your source. Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:45

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This is an idiom. It does not really make much sense. Some people call it the "double possessive." We also say "A friend of mine" instead of "A friend of me," "A friend of yours" instead of "A friend of you," and so on. In your original example the authorities do not allow "of your son" without the apostrophe-s (although it sounds natural to me either way); and in my examples it would be obviously incorrect to use "me" instead of "mine," etc. Where a pronoun is in that position in the expression (the object of "of"), it must be possessive.

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  • Since when can you say "a very particular friend of you son"?
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:08
  • @BillJ I'm confused by this comment. The original question concerned the need for apostrophe-s, not the "r" at the end of "your." Are you asking me about the need for "r"?
    – Chaim
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:11
  • No, you said, quote "In your original example it would also be correct to say "of your son" without the apostrophe-s ..." (in my message I meant to type "your", not "you" - just a typo)
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:12
  • And it would be correct to say "of your son" without the apostrophe-s. He is a very particular friend of your son. No?
    – Chaim
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:17
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    @BillJ Maybe that's right. I never thought about it, but some authorities distinguish the cases according to whether the word after "of" is a person. Apparently we say "a friend of the Mayor's," but not "a suburb of the city's." Still, "a friend of your son" sounds right to me, as does "within the power of the president," "at the discretion of the judge," etc.
    – Chaim
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 18:43

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