The train arrived at the station, and Paula got off. Two friends of hers, Jon and Rachel, were waiting to meet her.

I understand why I should say 'a friend of hers' instead of 'her a friend'. But here I cannot understand why 'two friends of hers' is used instead of 'her two friends'. Please explain why.

  • I don't follow you. You can't say "my a friend". "Two friends of hers" does not mean the same as "two of my friends". I think you need to rethink your question.
    – BillJ
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 12:05
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    I don't know why you keep switching between hers and my. It would be possible to say Two of her friends [were waiting] (or two of my friends) instead of two friends of hers (or two friends of mine). In most contexts the two forms are equivalent and interchangeable. You could also use Her two friends [, Jon and Rachel,] were waiting in your context with almost the same meaning (not quite, because that version tends to imply either that she only has two friends, OR only those two particular friends are relevant to the broader narrative context). Commented May 27, 2019 at 12:13
  • That was my mistake. I modified 'my' to 'her' now. I'm sorry.
    – jinnyk216
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 12:25
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    Yes - it's idiomatic to always use the possessive form of the pronoun (of hers / of mine rather than of her / of me). But that "double possessive" is optional when used with a proper noun and the Saxon genitive, so Two friends of Peter and Two friends of Peter's are both perfectly idiomatic. See my question Why is it usually “friend of his”, but no possessive apostrophe with “friend of Peter”? over on ELU for further discussion about this. Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:18
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    (It's irrelevant that all the above examples feature plural friends. Exactly the same applies with a friend of Peter and a friend of Peter's, which are both fine.) Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


Two friends of hers were waiting. implies:

They are two of what could be other friends or other types of relationships.

  • Two members of my family. The of often signals some kind of group (group of friends, group of family members)

Her two friends is much more specific because it could imply those are her only friends.

  • Two friends of mine speak Italian. Three do not. [i.e. in or from my group of friends]

  • My two friends speak Italian. That suggests I only have two friends.

[There is no double possessive.]

  • +1 Quite so. Although neither explicitly states her total number of friends, the usage of the phrases strongly suggests these interpretations. Commented May 27, 2019 at 14:13

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