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My friend (or "a friend of mine"?) told me that anytime I need to express such expression, it's always better to say "of mine", because it sounds more naturally.

Like "two brothers of mine" rather than "my two brothers".

Is that true?

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  • Not really. Is your friend (the friend of yours) a native English speaker? Oct 18, 2015 at 15:48
  • Actually, he isn't but his teacher is. He's been probably taught that then said to me. Are the two words interchangeable well?
    – gnoulv
    Oct 18, 2015 at 16:12
  • "a friend of mine" sounds fine but "two brothers of mine" is strange and oddly stilted. Oct 21, 2015 at 17:41

2 Answers 2

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Native English speakers use both forms with the same meaning, but in slightly different contexts.

However, "of mine" is almost never used to describe a thing that you only have one of. It would sound strange to talk about "a house of mine."

Similarly you never use of mine with definite articles unless the noun has additional descriptors. So "the friend of mine who works in Boston" makes sense, but "the bike of mine" sounds odd.

I would say that you will almost never be wrong using "my" instead of "of mine," so if in doubt say us 'my'

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  • +1 for "almost never wrong." go with "my" always and no one will notice Oct 21, 2015 at 17:42
  • "'of mine' is almost never used to describe a thing that you only have one of" - Fred Astaire disagrees, and so does Pain of Salvation. Unless you're a Time Lord, you will usually have a single heart. In general, I'd argue that "of mine" is simply a poetic way of saying "my". Dec 5, 2016 at 20:26
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There is a difference in meaning.

In English, the possessive pronouns "my, your, her, his, its" are used as determiners that come before a noun. Another determiner is the definite article the. And like the definite article, possessive determiners often imply that you are talking about a complete set of things belonging to you or associated with you. If you talk about "my two cars", people will tend to assume that you don't have more than two cars. Likewise, if you talk about "my two brothers", people may assume that you only have two brothers.

In situations where you want to make it clear that you have more than two brothers, but you're only talking about two of them, it is appropriate to use a construction like "two brothers of mine". However, it would probably be more common to say "two of my brothers".

You also have to use "of mine" if you want to use a determiner like this, that or a before the noun. You can't say "my this friend"/"this my friend" or "my a friend"/"a my friend". You have to say "this friend of mine" and "a friend of mine".

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