"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 – Ronald Sole Mar 5 '17 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 Mar 5 '17 at 17:04
  • @BillJ, I'll take it into consideration – Anthony Voronkov Mar 5 '17 at 17:32
  • @RonaldSole, I've read your source. – Anthony Voronkov Mar 5 '17 at 17:45

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.

  • Since when can you say "a very particular friend of you son"? – BillJ Mar 5 '17 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 Mar 5 '17 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 Mar 5 '17 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 Mar 5 '17 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 Mar 5 '17 at 18:43

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