1
  • My favourite song of her is...

  • My favourite song from her is....

  • My favourite song by her is...

Which sentence is correct? Which preposition do I use?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Sep 22 '15 at 15:11

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

8

All three are possible, depending on what is meant, but after "of" you have to use "hers" instead of "her". A song of hers is one she performed, one she wrote, or one she possesses (in a collection of some sort). A song by her is one she wrote or performed. A song from her is one she issued, published, or distributed, or perhaps wrote.

I probably missed some interpretations, but the general idea is that the preposition differs depending on the relationship between her and the song.

  • 2
    I pretty much agree with all of this answer (+1). I'll add that the OP should be aware of two very important aspects of English. (1) Prepositions in English are very important. Sometimes only one is allowed for a particular word but more often a word can be paired with different prepositions that give it completely different meanings. (2) English is a context-sensitive language. The meaning of an expression may change according to what was said previously and by whom. As noted, if you say a song is 'by' someone then this can mean they composed it or that they sang it depending on context. – chasly from UK Sep 22 '15 at 16:06
  • 1
    I'm not convinced a song of her is valid at all. I know the genitive/possessive is effectively "optional" with a friend of her / hers / Peter / Peter's, but regardless of whether it's a pronoun or an actual noun, a song of Rihanna, for example, doesn't really work for me. I just can't see how to apply the a painting of / by Van Gogh distinction to a "song" without switching to about rather than of. – FumbleFingers Sep 22 '15 at 16:17
  • @FumbleFingers, "a painting of Van Gogh's" is colloquial. – Greg Lee Sep 22 '15 at 16:22
  • 2
    I know that. My point is that "a painting of Van Gogh's" (with the genitive) would always mean a painting owned or painted by Van Gogh - where without the genitive, "a painting of Van Gogh" would always mean a painting depicting Van Gogh. That same distinction applies with pronouns, so we can differentiate a photo of him (depicting him) from a photo of his (which he took and/or owns). But I simply don't think it works at all with a song of him, regardless of the intended meaning - to me, that has to be either about him or of his. – FumbleFingers Sep 22 '15 at 16:38
  • @FumbleFingers, I agree with what you say (excepting "a song of sixpence", "Song of Solomon"). – Greg Lee Sep 22 '15 at 16:45
5

I would say

My favorite song by her is...

However, a more common construction is

My favorite...song is...

Here the first ellipsis contains the name of the person whose song you like. My favorite Miley Cyrus song is..., My favorite Leonard Cohen song is...

0

I would say: My favorite Bob Dylan song is "Like a Rolling Stone". This is my favorite song by him.

  • 1
    Please edit to include an explanation of why this is correct; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language as well. – Nathan Tuggy Sep 23 '15 at 4:43
0

I'll use Taylor Swift as an example, because lots of people know who she is.

My favorite song of Taylor Swift is "Blank Spaces".

This is not valid English, but it's close and you would certainly be understood. You are referring to a possession of a person, or, a song of hers. This construct might be found in more classical/archaic uses when referring to a song embodying an ideal or feeling, or perhaps a time period, such as:

My favorite song of hope is, "I'll fly away."

My favorite song of the Great Depression is "Pennies from Heaven"[ by Django Reinhardt].

With possession denoted, it is formal:

My favorite song of Taylor Swift's is "Blank Spaces".

More specific to what you literally asked, you could use it to follow someone's mention of an artist.

Your friend: Oh! I love Taylor Swift!

You: Me too! My favorite song of hers is "Blank Spaces".

My favorite song from Taylor Swift is "Blank Spaces".

This is technically correct, but since you're talking about an artist, it might sound a bit awkward. "From" would more naturally be used to refer to a place, time, or thing (album, movie, record label, etc.).

  • My favorite Taylor Swift song from this year is "Blank Spaces".
  • My favorite song from Mali is Tenere Taqqim Tossam.
  • My favorite song from 1989 is "Blank Spaces".
  • My favorite song from Stax Records is "Sittin' at the dock of the bay."

These all work. The difference is subtle, and is not crucial for effective communication.

My favorite song by Taylor Swift is "Blank Spaces".

Out of the three options you gave, this is the best one out of context. It's pretty formal, but as far as I know, it's correct. Can you see the difference? It might seem trivial to a non-native speaker. I apologize if this is confusing. Just remember when talking about a time, place, or album you can use "from". For a person, "by" is generally better.

Consider

As @Jonah said, the most common construct is:

My favorite Taylor Swift song is "Blank Spaces".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy