I want to use a phrase that takes the form of possession. It may be a matter of an apostrophe with s or a usage of a possessive pronoun, I suppose.

What I want the phrase to mean and indicate is that there are two individuals whom I want to talk about the life of only one of them instantaneously.

The sentence (not the original one):

They were always together until destiny took away ______ (one's life of them?).

I want the phrase to be a substitute of the life of one of them.

I would also like to know if there are other ways of stating the phrase in a shortened form.

  • 1
    Just drop the "of them" and say "They were always together until destiny took away one's life." Shorter: They were always together until one's death."
    – Robusto
    Apr 30, 2019 at 21:41
  • 2
    Robusto, 'One's life' is ambiguous. Apr 30, 2019 at 21:44
  • @MichaelHarvey: Don't look now, but one of their lives is also ambiguous. The extra words add nothing but padding.
    – Robusto
    May 3, 2019 at 3:16

1 Answer 1


One of their lives is what you want.

This is structurally ambiguous (does it mean "the life of one of them", or "one from among all the lives of any of them"?), but I can't find any actual ambiguity in the meaning.

Edit: an example that might be actually ambiguous is One of their children. It could mean "One from among all the children of any of them", or "(All) the children of one of them". I think the first interpretation is much more likely - most people would word the second another way, to avoid the ambiguity - but the second interpration is possible.

  • Thank you, Colin! Would it be "One of your lives" if I were talking to them?
    – Tasneem ZH
    May 1, 2019 at 9:00
  • @TasneemZH: Yes.
    – Colin Fine
    May 1, 2019 at 14:52
  • Thank you for providing an example to explain the possible ambiguity. Could you please clarify the issues that exist in my phrase "One's life of them"? I know it is stated awkwardly but is it at least grammatically correct? And does it indicate any specific meaning?
    – Tasneem ZH
    May 2, 2019 at 7:52
  • 1
    @TasneemZH: no, I don't think it is grammatical. In current English, a noun phrase with a complement (such as "one of them", or "the Emperor of Japan" is made possessive as a whole ("one of their" or "The Emperor of Japan's"), not by making the head noun possessive (*"one's or them" or *"The Emperor's of Japan").
    – Colin Fine
    May 2, 2019 at 21:30
  • Great explanation! I'll keep that in mind.
    – Tasneem ZH
    May 3, 2019 at 6:35

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