Can we use the below expressions to mean "one of...."

(1) A car of the family

to mean one of the family's cars?

(2) A hat of the man

to mean one of the man's hats?

(3) A son of the old man

to mean one of the old man's sons?

(4) A car of a lawyer

to mean that there is a lawyer and what we're talking about is one of the lawyer's cars?

If we use the below expressions, do they mean the the things possessed are the only ones? Or it depends on the context?

(5) The car of the girl

implies the girl has one car only ?

By the way, I know "the girl's car" is preferred, but "the car of the girl" is also correct, right?

(6) The son of the old woman

implies the old woman has one son only ?

1 Answer 1


In (1) - (3), you need the last word to be in the possessive form, as explained here. As to (4), if the lawyer had been mentioned before, you could say A car of the lawyer's. It would sound odd if the lawyer was being mentioned for the first time, though. Better to say A car belonging to a lawyer.

Yes, using The X of Y usually implies that Y has only one X.

  • Thank you for your answer. Are "the car of the girl" or "the hat of the lawyer" correct? Can I use them? I have heard that animate beings are not usually used with that structure. What do you think?
    – vincentlin
    Feb 19, 2021 at 9:58
  • In terms of the structure "The X of Y", do "the son of "an" old woman" imply that she has one son only?
    – vincentlin
    Feb 19, 2021 at 10:13
  • They are grammatically correct, but would never be used in ordinary speech, unless perhaps the speaker was going on to say something else about the owner. "That's the car of the girl I was telling you about earlier." Feb 19, 2021 at 10:15
  • Thank you for reply. In terms of the structure "The X of Y", do "the son of an woman" and "the son of the woman" both imply that she has one son only? Does it depend on the context or emphasis?
    – vincentlin
    Feb 19, 2021 at 10:25
  • On reflection, perhaps I was over-hasty in saying that - see this earlier question. Feb 19, 2021 at 11:23

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