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Is this sentence correct?

This is John's car, a friend of mine.

Or do I need to say this?

This is John, my friend's car.

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    John's car is not your friend. And John is not your friend's car. It is your friend's name. I can't figure out what you are trying to do.... – Lambie Mar 16 at 19:29
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    However, in real life conversation isn't always logical. Someone might say "This is John's car," and then, realising that the person they are speaking to doesn't know John, add "-- [he's] a friend of mine." But it isn't a correct way to express it. – Kate Bunting Mar 17 at 9:45
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    @Kate Bunting: Yeah, that might pop up in a conversation more than in writing. They call it anacoluthon, right? – user40475 Mar 17 at 9:48
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    Aha, now you've edited it. I wish I could remember how it was. Anyhoo, you might be interested in seeing this post where the head honchos and lessor honchos gave me a record-beating (maybe} 8 minus points: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/231886/… The thing is that one can say what one likes....so, opinion's vary but I stand by mine. – Lambie Mar 17 at 13:30
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    Ok, right. No worries. This is John's car, my friend. is a spoken "thing". Where my friend is an afterthought. – Lambie Mar 17 at 13:36
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Neither of those is correct!

This is John's car, a friend of mine.

means this car (that belongs to John) is my friend.

This is John, my friend's car.

means my friend's car is named John.

I think you understand the sentence "This is John's car" and "John is my friend." The basic structure of "This is John's car" tells us how to do it; it is "This is noun-phrase's car." So what is a noun phrase we can use to capture "John is my friend"? My friend John.

So if we put those together, we get

This is my friend John's car.

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  • Thanks a lot, @Stangdon. Is the commaless version incorrect too? This is John my friend's car? – user40475 Mar 17 at 4:59
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    @User40475 You can't say "John my friend" (in this context). "My friend" describes "John", not the other way around. Without a comma or any other punctuation, "my friend" needs to come first. – NotThatGuy Mar 17 at 10:38
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    On the other hand "This is Michael's car, a friend of mine." could be valid, but only if you were on episode of Knight Rider. – Darrel Hoffman Mar 17 at 20:13
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The first example tells us that the car is your friend. The second says that the car is named John. Both seem unlikely!

It seems you want to tell two pieces of infomation "The name of my friend is John". and "This car belongs to John". If you have two pieces of unrelated information you should usually put them in separate sentences, or separate clauses joined with "and". Or you might realise that part of the information is actually not needed, in which case you say "This is John's car" or "This is my friend's car" (because the person doesn't need to be told that "John is my friend")

But if both items are needed then you could say:

My friend's name is John, and this is his car.

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    Don't know about the second being unlikely, since there are people who name their cars. As a matter of fact, when I was a kid my father had an old pickup that he called John (after the previous owner). – jamesqf Mar 17 at 5:10
  • "...and this is their car" would be better, since it doesn't make assumptions regarding the friend's gender. – Vikki Mar 19 at 1:39
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    @Vikki-formerlySean I hope you do know your friend's gender. Otherwise it's just a stranger (or a contact from the Internet), not a friend. – Ruslan Mar 19 at 19:36
  • @Ruslan: They could be a non-binary friend. – Vikki Mar 19 at 22:10
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In addition to the existing answers, you could combine the two facts by saying:

This car belongs to John, a friend of mine.

Here the second half of the sentence is a description or elaboration of "John" as you intend, and not the car.

(If you did want to add information about the car in this format, you would need to use "and" to imply that there are two separate facts: "This car belongs to John and [it] is a friend of mine.")

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"the car of a friend" is a friend's car.

the car of YOUR friend is YOUR friend's car.

If your friend's name is John, or your friend is John, then that would be your friend, John's car. If your friend was a male, and you've already mentioned to the police that you got the car from your friend, John, then you can say "this is his car" (pronoun).

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If you want to add "my friend" to clarify who John is, then that is being used as an appositive phrase, and if you're using it appositively, you need a comma after it: "This is John, my friend's, car". However, that phrasing makes it unclear what the possessive 's applies to; it's supposed to apply to both "my friend" and "John", but that isn't really supported by the phrasing. You could rephrase it as "This is the car that belongs to John, my friend", "This is the car that belongs to my friend John", "This car belongs to my friend John", or "This is my friend John's car".

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In speech, you'd probably reword it as per other answers.  (Though in this case, I think the indented meaning is clear enough anyway.)

But in writing, this is an option:

This is John (my friend)'s car.

This clearly links both ‘my friend’ and ‘car’ with John, not with each other, and avoids too much restructuring.

You need the parentheses in order to clearly separate the possessive, so it wouldn't work with the other common ways to indicate a parenthetical remark (dashes or commas).

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    I'm not sure about the correctness, but it is quite rare for an apostrophe-s to follow parentheses. It's probably fine in informal contexts, but I'd avoid it in formal writing. – NotThatGuy Mar 17 at 10:47
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    For sure I don't think you can put 's on a parenthetical segment. More idiomatic, and correct, would be: "This is John's car; he's a friend of mine" or "This car belongs to my friend John" or "This is my friend John's car". Also idiomatic, but less certainly grammatical, might be "This is John, my friend's, car". – CCTO Mar 18 at 13:53
  • "in speech" most people wouldn't even think twice and understand that "a friend of mine" refers to John. If it was "this is John's cousin" then it would be ambiguous. – freedomn-m Mar 19 at 6:32

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