(1) Do you know any friends of hers?
(2) Do you know those friends of hers?
(3) Do you know a friend of hers?

Both in (1) and (2), ‘hers’ seems to be ‘her friends.’ But in (3), is it ‘her friend’ or ‘her friends’? If ‘of hers’ has a meaning of ‘among the set of her friends,’ it would be the latter. While if it has a meaning of ‘that is her friend’, it would be the former. But this so called double genitive (CGEL,p.46, fn. 63) makes me wondered.

  • 2
    How could the meaning of (3) imply multiple friends? The word friend there is in the singular. Sep 23, 2014 at 8:23
  • 2
    Why would "among the set of her friends" imply a plural? "first among equals" is "among a set of equals", but it is certainly singular. One element from a set is still one element, however big the set is.
    – oerkelens
    Sep 23, 2014 at 8:36
  • I loved your comment @oerkelens
    – Maulik V
    Sep 23, 2014 at 8:39
  • 1
    Note that these are both possible: He is a friend of my dad's., He is a friend of my dad. Sep 23, 2014 at 9:33

1 Answer 1


Nothing to wonder there!

This is my friend
That is yours, and
Here is hers.


Friend of mine
Friend of yours, and
Friend of hers

Hers -pronoun's possession.

Do you know a friend of hers ~ Yes, I know a friend of hers (fit in the above example).

The sentence reads a friend of... and is singular. Hers there is as defined above.

Good points to note are CopperKettle's and Oerkelens'.

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