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May I say 'Did you copy your homework from your friend?'

Or does it have to be:

Did your copy your friend's homework?

  • I don't see anything wrong with it. It is certainly colloquial. – Mick Dec 13 '17 at 4:49
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Both are acceptable. The second version is more active. It is a good idea in English, particularly in writing, to avoid more passive sentence constructions.

The first example could be used if you were trying to clarify where the homework was copied. For example: Did you copy your homework from your friend or from the chalkboard?

You wouldn't say Did you copy the chalkboard's homework?

A passive response would be "The homework was copied."

  • I'm not sure what you mean by "The second version is more active" seeing how both the examples in the question are active voice. – Laurel Dec 13 '17 at 6:09
  • The first version is more wordy, and since in an active voice it is more clear who is responsible for an action, it follows that using a possessive makes the sentence more active because the reader doesn't have to wait to know the specifics of the homework. – B.W. Dec 13 '17 at 6:29
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Both are acceptable in an informal setting.

But if you have a picky English teacher you might lose points for writing, "Did you copy your homework from your friend?". Instead you will need to write "Did you copy your homework from your friend's homework."

If you copy your homework from your friend's homework, then your homework will look like your friend's homework. If you copy your homework from the chalkboard, then your homework will look like the chalkboard. If you copy your homework from your friend, then your homework will look like your friend. Your homework should not look like your friend.

"Did you copy your homework from your friend's homework?" is correct, but ugly. No native speaker will say "Did you copy your homework from your friend's homework?" in conversation because it is ugly. Instead, they will say "Did you copy your homework from your friend?" So if you want to sound like a native then you should say, "Did you copy your homework from your friend?"

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