The back of her right hand, of which arm's elbow rested on the door panel, pressed against her lips.

The context is that she was weeping with stifled sobs, and smothered her sniffs.

My concern however regards the use of possessiveness, inasmuch as not to sound too vague, but also not to exaggerate with dropping a ton of them in a single sentence.

Surely there's no hand to have an elbow, an arm has such articulation, unless we rename wrists to elbows, which is not the case.

Does this sentence above look fine from a native speaker's point of view?

  • 5
    It's nearly unintelligible for several different reasons. A possible rephrasing: "She leaned her right elbow on the door panel (?) and pressed the back of her hand against her lips." The fact that it's her right hand is implied. Dec 19, 2017 at 17:44
  • The door panel is the inside of a car door. Yes, it sounds better your way. Thanks!
    – user65007
    Dec 19, 2017 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


Your question pretty much answers itself. A hand can't have an elbow, so you're trying to link the hand to the arm it's attached to, and then the elbow of that arm.

I suspect this kind of sentence is confusing in any language. Why not just say plainly:

Her right elbow rested on the door panel, and the back of her (right) hand was pressed to her lips.

Since most people don't have multiple right-side arms, it's clear that we're talking about the elbow and the hand of the same arm.

OK, so as an exercise in possessives, there are lots of things you can say for fun:

The back of her right hand was pressed to her lips, and the elbow of the same arm rested on the door panel.

Or really convoluted:

The back of her right hand, the elbow of the arm of which lay resting on the door panel, was pressed to her lips.

You can see this sentence is kind of a horrible mess, and I honestly can't tell if it's grammatically correct.

This is why I prefer straightforward and simple, otherwise it sounds like she's playing Twister.

  • Thanks! :) It helps me a lot to learn these first hand opinions. That is why I like to complicate sentences, as you said, like playing Twister (rather me more than the characters in my sentence) because it helps me to test what makes sense and what does not, in English.
    – user65007
    Dec 19, 2017 at 21:06

The back of her right hand, of which arm's elbow rested on the door panel, pressed against her lips.

Leaning on her right elbow against the door panel, she brought the back of her right hand to her lips.

We have now established that her right arm is occupied.

She then shot Colonel Mustard between the eyes with a pistol she held in her left hand.

  • Accelerating with the right foot's leftest toe, whilst steering with the knee of the only available limb.
    – user65007
    Dec 19, 2017 at 21:13
  • 1
    Let's hope it was an automatic transmission. Dec 20, 2017 at 11:49

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