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I am trying to learn if i can use possessives in a chain. Are my sentences correct and if not how can i make them so?

"Father of John's pen is an antique."? (what i meant: "John's dad has a pen and it's an antique")

"Dio's voice actor is also Shirogane's father's" (what i meant: "Dio's voice actor also does the voice of Shirogane's father")

I want to use the second sentence with "father of Shirogane" like the first one but i can't seem to work it out.

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You can chain possessives.

John's father's pen is an antique.
Shirogane's father's voice actor is also Dio's.
-or-
Dio's voice actor is also Shirogane's father's.
My friend's uncle's dog's tail's tip is black.
My mother's friend's daughter's neighbour's cat's ears are grey.

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  • Thank you very much – Beauseant Sep 16 '20 at 10:44
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Yes, you can use chained possessives, although your examples are not quite correct.

Father of John's pen is an antique."

We would never refer to someone as "father of John". It would either need an article to be at least grammatically correct, but even then it would not be idiomatic. Using a chained possessive, we would say:

John's father's pen is an antique.


Dio's voice actor is also Shirogane's father's.

This isn't quite as bad, it feels a little ambiguous, but I suppose that is because I don't know the characters it refers to. In context, it might be ok, but if you don't know that Dio is a character it sounds like Dio owns the voice actor in some way. I would prefer:

Dio's voice actor also voices Shirogane's father.

This is also not a chained possessive - just a sentence that contains two possessives.

To avoid the ambiguity I mentioned you may have to dispense with the first possessive:

The actor that voices Dio also voices Shirogane's father.

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  • But Dio's voice actor is also Shirogane's father's voice actor, he doesn't play Shirogane's father, I think. – Michael Harvey Sep 16 '20 at 8:54
  • @MichaelHarvey I understand it to mean that Dio and Shirgane's father are characters played by the same voice actor. – Astralbee Sep 16 '20 at 8:56
  • I saw this as about a movie or video that was dubbed; I guess it could be an animation. – Michael Harvey Sep 16 '20 at 8:57
  • Yes, I checked. Anime. – Michael Harvey Sep 16 '20 at 8:58
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    @Beauseant As they are perfectly grammatical you can use them formally, but be careful not to make the chains too long in spoken English as they can be difficult to follow as well as difficult to say (Ken Dodd's dad's dog's dead). – Astralbee Sep 16 '20 at 12:18

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