For example, A gives a gift to B.

A: here’s my gift for you.

B: I’ve been waiting for your gift.

Should B call the gift ”my gift” or ”A’s gift”?


my possessive determiner 1 Belonging to or associated with the speaker. ‘my name is John’ ‘my friend’ - ODO

The problem is that "my" can denote mere association with the speaker. So "my gift" can be the gift that "I" give or the gift that "I" receive. This ambiguity also holds when you change "my" to "A's" or "your" etc.


  • 'A' gave something to 'B'. It is A's gift to B. It is A's gift.
  • 'B' received something from 'A'. It is B's gift from A. It is B's gift.

When you pare down the sentence to something like "my gift" or "A's gift", you lose the contextual clues that tell you which version it is.

The way around this is to include enough context that the 'direction of giving' is clear. E.g. "A's gift to B". However, if the context already makes it clear, the short version can stand. Consider:

  • A: Here's my gift to you. [Context provided: my gift to give]
  • B: Thank you for your gift. [Uses a parallel construction: "my (A's) gift" -> "your (still A's) gift"]
  • B's Butler: May I store your (B's) gift? [Context established; "your gift" is unambiguous]

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