5

Is this sentence correct?

A father of mine is ill.

Please explain.

3
  • 5
    No. It would mean that you have more than one father (which I suppose you don't). It should simply be "My father is ill/sick." Know more about Articles here
    – Mohit
    Sep 3 '13 at 10:33
  • 1
    Would any of the closevoters care to explain how this question could be answered by a dictionary? I have to admit that perplexes me.
    – WendiKidd
    Sep 3 '13 at 20:19
  • Ah, if only all questions about language usage could be answered by dictionaries... Aug 14 '14 at 9:56
11

The following sentences are correct:

My father is ill.
A brother of mine is ill.

The second sentence implies that I have at least two brothers. The sentence “A father of mine is ill” would usually not be correct, because people normally have a single father. “A X of someone's” cannot be used if there is only one such X.

If you say “a father of mine”, it implies you have two fathers, and that they have no overwhelming distinguishing feature. For example, if your parents are divorced and your mother remarried, then you might say “my biological father is ill” or “my stepfather is ill”. The same goes for “a parent of mine”: you would normally say “my father” or “my mother”.

If you were raised by two men, which is highly unusual in English-speaking societies, then “a father of mine” would be correct. But because it is an unusual situation, that sentence would definitely surprise your audience unless they knew about your family situation beforehand.

3
  • 3
    I wonder if a similar sentence could be used for a large parish, when one of the priests becomes ill: A father of ours is ill.
    – J.R.
    Sep 3 '13 at 17:11
  • 2
    I still think "A father of mine" sounds stilted, even if you were raised by two fathers. I'd go with "One of my fathers is ill." Sounds far more natural to me. Still, your answer is definitely good and correct :) +1! @J.R. That's a very good point, and I'd actually say it sounds quite natural in that case. It doesn't sound formal at all, whereas I think even "A brother of mine..." does.
    – WendiKidd
    Sep 3 '13 at 20:17
  • 2
    @WendiKidd Hmmm. Indeed, “a X of mine” sounds better when there are many X (“a friend of mine”) than when there are a known, small number (“a brother of mine”). Nonetheless I think “a father of mine” sounds more stilted than “a brother of mine” because having two fathers is so unusual. Sep 3 '13 at 20:23

Your Answer

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.