2

Which one sounds more natural to the native speakers ?

at one of my clients' office

at the office of one of my clients

Thanks

  • 2
    Avoid the first one - it suggests ambiguity. Things get really messy with something like One of my brothers' name is John (I have several brothers, one named John). The only way to express it without being incredibly clumsy is to recast to something like The name of one of my brothers is John. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 28 '17 at 15:40
  • 2
    Also note that in practice if a native speaker found himself already committed (he's already spoken the words one of my clients before thinking things through, say), he'd almost certainly say offices even if he knew perfectly well that every one of his clients only had one office apiece. Not because this is "correct", but simply because he'd have gotten himself into a syntactic quagmire with no reasonable means of escape. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 28 '17 at 15:44
  • "A syntactic quagmire with no reasonable means of escape" We've all been there. ;) – Andrew Jun 28 '17 at 16:01
2

"At one of my clients' office", is grammatical, but ambiguous. It sounds like "one of" relates to "office" not "client", as if your client has many offices, but you forgot to make it plural.

This is not uncommon in English, when mixing singular and plural nouns in the same sentence, and native speakers frequently make mistakes. As FumbleFingers mentions in his comment, a native speaker would usually say, "at one of my client's offices," even if they knew their client had only one office, because it sounds grammatical. They can always correct themselves afterward:

I had a meeting at one of my clients' offices -- I mean office. The office of one of my clients. They only have the one office.

So "the office of one of my clients" is perhaps more formal, but easier to understand.

It helps if you plan the sentence before you say it, to avoid mixing singulars with plurals -- but native speakers (in any language) often fail to do this, because we're thinking as we're talking. So instead we just do the best we can and deal with any mistakes.

-1

at one of my clients' office

This sounds most informal and casual. It sounds like you're telling a story to someone, maybe someone you know. While this,

at the office of one of my clients

, sounds most formal and professional. It sounds like you are giving directions and being precise about which office you are talking about.

The general rule of thumb: if you want to sound formal, your best bet is to use the sentences without contractions/apostrophes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.