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If you use a noun rather than a pronoun. "Send me a picture of Sally", I want a picture that shows what Sally looks like.

But is this correct? "Send me a picture of Sally's", I want a picture that belongs to Sally or that was taken by Sally.

If this is correct then whether we can also say."This is the picture of Sally's (as in, this picture belongs to Sally or was taken by Sally)

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  • Just to confuse things: If you said "Send me Sally's picture," it could have all three meanings (belonging to, attributed to, depicting). (I once went to a reconstruction of a 17th-century ship with "living history" actors pretending to be period sailors, who of course knew nothing of cameras. If you ask to take their picture, they say "Sounds like larceny to me!") Aug 31, 2021 at 14:47
  • My apologiese. I could not understand that ship paragraph.
    – Bilal Zafar
    Aug 31, 2021 at 15:09
  • Sorry, I'm muddying the waters. "Take your picture" means "photograph you." But to someone unfamiliar with the idiom, they might interpret it as "steal the picture that belongs to you." Aug 31, 2021 at 15:31
  • By the way, you mention noun vs pronoun, but I don't think are involved in any of the present questions. They help make the difference between the two meanings of "of" more obvious, though; "a picture of Sally" equals "a picture of her," but "a picture of Sally's" equals "a picture of hers." Aug 31, 2021 at 17:16

2 Answers 2

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You've mentioned three usages.

  1. "Of Sally": Yes, this means the picture shows Sally. In this page of definitions of "of", this would be definition 3.
  2. "Of Sally's": Now you have a possessive. You're right in thinking that the meaning is unclear without context, since we use possessives with works of art not just to indicate who owns them but to attribute their author. If Billy owns a Picasso, it's both a painting of Billy's and a painting of Picasso's. That's why we need context to communicate.
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  • Thank you :) Among these which one is correct "This is Sally's father's picture" or "This is Sally's father picture"
    – Bilal Zafar
    Aug 31, 2021 at 17:10
  • So now there are two possessives; you're saying "A picture belonging to the father who belongs to Sally." So you need the 's in "father's." Aug 31, 2021 at 17:12
  • @AndyBonner Yes "Sally's father picture" would probably be a picture made, or perhaps owned, by her which, in some way, represented fathers generically; a little like "Sally's seascape picture" or "Sally's Eiffel Tower picture". It would not imply a picture of Sally's male parent.
    – BoldBen
    Aug 31, 2021 at 17:18
  • Thank you, AndyBonner and BoldBen :)
    – Bilal Zafar
    Aug 31, 2021 at 17:37
  • I understood that you mean "This is Sally father's picture is correct" have i got you right?
    – Bilal Zafar
    Aug 31, 2021 at 17:41
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I don't think that's good English. It is arguably grammatically correct, but I think most English speakers would respond "A picture of Sally's what?" A picture of Sally's face, a picture of Sally's house, a picture of Sally's dog would all be fine, but just "a picture of Sally's" sounds really odd.

Better to say "One of Sally's pictures." There's still some ambiguity, as you could still be talking about a picture of her rather than by her, but I think most people would assume the latter. Or you could go flat out for clarity and say "a picture taken by Sally" or "one of the pictures Sally took"

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  • Thank you :) Among these which one is correct "This is Sally's father's picture" or "This is Sally's father picture"
    – Bilal Zafar
    Aug 31, 2021 at 17:09
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    My immediate reaction to a request for "a picture of Sally's" without any other context would be to supply a picture of Sally's home. The possessive without an object and no context is used in colloquial English almost exactly in the way that the French use 'chez' so that "I was at Sally's last night" is completely unambiguous. If everyone was discussing dogs, however, asking for "a picture of Sally's" would probably mean a picture of her dog.
    – BoldBen
    Aug 31, 2021 at 17:11
  • I respectfully disagree that there's anything wrong with "a ___ of ___'s"; it's just a bit hard to contrive a situation where it could be comfortable in the example involving "send" and "picture." I also contend that (as proven throughout these answers and comments), context matters a lot. "No no, that's a picture you took. Send me one of Sally's." vs "Here's a picture of my place, and here's one of Sally's." vs "Here's the picture I bought at auction, and here's one of Sally's." Aug 31, 2021 at 17:19

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