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Recently I noticed that there are people that instead of saying "My client" or "My friend" they say "a client of mine" or "a friend of mine". Initially, a couple of months ago I heard it from a German guy which is obviously not a native English speaker, and it wasn't natural to my ears, but today I heard it once from an American English speaker too, and this brought me to the following question.

Assuming that the second way ('friend of mine') is correct, my question is if it's considered a formal or informal / slang? (especially in British English since I'm in touch with it more)

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  • "Friend of mine" allows the phrase to be marked, when required, as indefinite by adding article "a". "My friend" is always definite.
    – BillJ
    Sep 29 '19 at 13:03
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I don't think it (the "of mine" form) is particularly more or less formal. It may be slightly old-fashioned -- I see it a lot in novels from the first half of the 20th century, many of them British, but I also see and hear it frequently enough today. I have heard it enough (in mostly US English) and read it enough (in both UK and US sources) that I am confident it is natural, and I don't see that it violates any rules of grammar.

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