A question about this:

Detroit took a gamble on Scott Green a year after the Tigers' third-round draft pick took a gamble of his own.

The phrase "took a gamble of his own" suggests the corresponding "took his gamble" is commonly used. But I often hear "take a gamble", not "take his gamble" or "take one's gamble". Am I wrong?


"Take his gamble" doesn't have quite the same thing as "take a gamble of his own". Perhaps if I use something a bit more concrete for examples, the distinctions will be clearer. First, the simplest phrase, analogous to "take a gamble":

I caught a fish.

The reason that you often hear this is because it has more general application than the phrase you have quoted. That construction ("did something of one's own") is generally used in contrast to someone else doing something comparable. For example:

He caught a fish, and then I caught a fish of my own.

Now, you can also say this:

He caught his fish, and I caught my fish too.

This has more of an implication that we were both expected to catch a fish. The "my fish" in this case is the fish that I was expected to catch. Here's another example:

Michael Jordan will always get his points, but we can still win if we play our best.

This means that Michael Jordan scores a lot of points, and it is expected that he will do so in the upcoming game as well.

So, the meaning of "take his gamble" and "take a gamble of his own" are a bit different: the first means he is taking a specific gamble (one that has been previously explained or implied), and the second means that someone else is taking a gamble and then he is taking a different (probably similar) one.

If you want to depersonalize this, you can say:

If one is a great basketball player, one will get one's points.

Although this is correct English, it's the sort of thing that Queen Elizabeth might say. It would sound stilted or even pretentious coming from an "average Joe".

  • I also saw "take a chance of his own" being used. Does it mean "a chance of his own" by itself could be used? – meatie Jun 15 '14 at 3:38
  • How about "kick a bucket of his own"? – meatie Jun 15 '14 at 4:00
  • 1
    In either case, there is the implication that others take analogous action: others take other chances, and others kick other buckets. – BobRodes Jun 15 '14 at 18:54
  • @meatie: of his/her/their own always contrasts with something which belongs to somebody else. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 17 '14 at 3:04

I decide to answer this question after seeing another question of yours. Before that question, I thought you understood the meaning of the sentence correctly. Now I have a feeling that you probably do not.

Detroit took a gamble on Scott Green a year after the Tigers' third-round draft pick took a gamble of his own.

To understand this question, it's probably important to know that both Detroit and Tigers refer to the same team in Major League Baseball. Also, Tigers' third-round draft pick refers to Scott Green himself. Knowing those, we can understand the sentence easily, like this:

Detroit Tigers took a gamble on Scott Green a year after he took a gamble of his own.

Which means one year earlier, Scott Green took a gamble (his gamble). Then, at the moment that sentence was written, Detroit Tigers had taken another gamble. This gamble was a gamble on Scoot Green. (It appears that Detroit Tigers picked Scott Green in the third round of the draft.)

Now, why "of his own"?

When we say "something of someone's own", it means that that something belongs to that someone.

But why do we say "he took a gamble of his own" instead of just "he took his gamble"?

According to Macmillan Dictionary, own is "used for showing that something belongs to a particular person or thing and not to any other". In other words, saying "he took a gamble of his own" is a kind of emphasis. It will give an impression similar to saying "he took a gamble, and that gamble was his, and no one else's".

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