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I think friend of mine can be translated to my friend. In that case, doesn't friend of me make more sense?

If we translate friend of mine to one of my friends then I guess friend of mine makes sense for my friends being mine.

Is there a difference?

When do you say ... of mine instead of my ...?

Is there a specific situation when you use one or the other?

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8 Answers 8

Mine is used to refer a thing belonging to (or a person associated with) the speaker.

Since it is about a friend (who is associated) mine must be used instead of me.

Adapted from NOAD

Another usage:

  • The picture is mine = It is my picture. (possessive pronoun)
  • The picture is me = I am in the picture. (object pronoun)
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"the picture is me" wouldn't that indicate some mental illness on your part, making you think that you are in fact the picture. I mean should that not be "the picture is of me"? –  Johan May 27 '11 at 15:37

In the construction

friend of mine

the "mine" means "my friends", so literally

? he is [one] friend of [all my friends]

or more idiomatically,

he is one of my friends

If I only have one friend and he is my only friend, we cannot then say "he is a friend of mine", because the "mine" doesn't mean a group of people. If I introduce my daughter I would never say

* this is a daughter of mine,

always

this is my daughter.

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3  
No, I think this is wrong too. "of mine" doesn't mean the person is one of a group. "My" and "mine" are the same words in different cases. "My" is the nominative form. –  Alan Hogue Aug 21 '10 at 4:42
    
The problem here is the article. So, for instance, you can say "This daughter of mine..." and it sounds fine whether she is your only daughter or not. –  Alan Hogue Aug 21 '10 at 4:51
    
@Alan: yes, my answer is wrong too! –  delete Aug 21 '10 at 5:55
    
my is not nominative. And my and mine do not take different cases. –  Kosmonaut Aug 21 '10 at 11:46
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+1 This answer is (almost) correct. "Mine" is simply the possessive case and thus refers to what the subject owns - perhaps in general, rather than just the collection of his/her friends. –  Noldorin Aug 21 '10 at 13:13

Is there a specific situation when you use one or the other?

"Friend of mine" would generally be used when you're saying something like "Kim is a friend of mine," in other words, at the end of a phrase or sentence. "My friend" is often used when saying "Kim is my friend", or in the construction, "My friend, you have a rip in the back of your shirt."

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1  
-1 this doesn't answer the question. –  delete Aug 21 '10 at 4:07
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@Shinto Sherlock -- Yes, it does answer the question. The question includes "Is there a specific situation when you use one or the other?" Please explain how providing examples (which I did) does not fulfill that aspect of the question. –  Neil Fein Aug 22 '10 at 2:00
1  
You can say A friend of mine, Alberto Paderno, lives in Italy. –  kiamlaluno Aug 29 '10 at 7:35

"Mine" was once used to mean "my." ("Mine eyes have seen the glory...") I would guess that this idiom is a holdover of that usage, although here it functions as an object rather than an adjective.

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1  
-1. This is wrong, consider e.g. "this is mine" rather than "this is my". –  delete Aug 21 '10 at 4:05
    
I'm saying it's a shorter linguistic distance from "mine enemy" to "enemy of mine" than to "enemy of me." –  moioci Aug 21 '10 at 4:21
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"Mine" was used instead of "my" only before words starting with vowels, AFAIK. ("mine eyes" but not "mine mouth") –  ShreevatsaR Feb 13 '11 at 19:45

The nominative form of "me" is "I". You wouldn't say, for instance,

"He is a colleague of me."

Any more than you would say

"He is I colleague."

You would say:

"He is a colleague of mine"

and

"He is my colleague"

The same goes for friends. For whatever reason, friends, colleagues, etc., are treated as possessions in English.

As noted above, when it's third person, you can do this. But consider:

"A friend of Jane."

and

"Jane friend."

Again, it doesn't work.

Perhaps this use of the non-genitive is just a matter of usage. I'm not sure.

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-1. This is wrong. The question is about contrasting "She is a friend of me" and "She is a friend of mine". "She is a friend of my" wasn't mentioned. –  delete Aug 21 '10 at 4:07
    
It's still wrong even with the later assertion in your comment. "Mine" here is not simply what is used when in a prepositional phrase. "Pieces of me" for example would be correct English. –  delete Aug 21 '10 at 4:15
    
I don't think I originally said that there is one form for all prepositional phrases, or even the same homophonic preposition. If I did say that, I was wrong. –  Alan Hogue Aug 21 '10 at 4:49
    
Thanks for your feedback, though. –  Alan Hogue Aug 21 '10 at 4:57

Ok, sorry, long two-part idea.

  1. "of someone" in this case is not really about possession. My impression is that English speakers do not like to use "of" simply to show possession; we have other grammatical constructions for that. Instead, "of" is used to refer to patterns of association or constituency in some larger whole, as in "out of" "consisting of".

  2. "a friend of mine" is really a shortened form of "a friend of mine (friends)" as argued by other comments. This means, literally, "one friend out of my several friends". The OED etymology sections have a long but clear explanation of the history of "mine" and "my" that more or less clears this up. Historically, "my" originates from a singular version (min) and "mine" from a plural version (mine) which were otherwise grammatically the same. Therefore, "mine" probably does have something to do with the plurality of friends in this case. Just like "mine eyes" probably made sense in the the past, but not "mine nose". One thing that either clinches or messes up this interpretation is that people say "of hers". OED calls this a "double possessive" which developed by extrapolation from 's. But some dialectical variants use "of hern" instead, which was definitely plural in the past. Therefore. "hern friends" was used in the past. Was "hers friends" ever grammatical? I'm inclined to think this is (historically) about plurality and not about double possession. Maybe phrases like "of John's" were originally in the plural possessive sense "of Johns" where John has many of something, not where there are many Johns, but were reanalyzed as a new special kind of possessive when this kind of plural possessive was lost. Therefore, the idea of double possession is a later way of explaining why people speak like this.

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According to this theory, when we say "a friend of his/hers/theirs/ours/mine/John's", the "his/hers/theirs/ours/mine/John's" refer to possession of multiple things? Is that right? And has English ever had a system where genitives/possessives were marked by the number of things being possessed, rather than the number of the "possessor"? –  ShreevatsaR Feb 13 '11 at 20:03
    
Ok, you're right.... I guess it's not about plurality. But, I still think that "of mine" does not have the same meaning in English as "de mi" in Spanish (just as the example I know about), which is part of why "of me" is not used in the same sense. "of me" can only mean "from me" or "out of me" etc. So, maybe "of mine" is just a special form of "double" possession as we are told. –  user4970 Feb 13 '11 at 20:06
    
So, for non-English speakers, the thing to take from this is not to use "of" just to show possession. Say "my friend" instead. "Friend of mine" might mean the same thing (or might not), but why take the trouble. –  user4970 Feb 13 '11 at 20:08
    
Obviously, I can't stop thinking about this. Maybe, "friend of mine" differs from "my friend" mainly in terms of definiteness. Instead of meaning "one of my friends" which would be about number, it means an unspecified friend, of which there might only be one. That might explain why you can say "This wife of mine...." and it sounds funny but does not necessarily imply that you have multiple wives. It's funny because you are intentionally not marking her as a specific person, which is denigrating. If you said "my wife" it would not be funny anymore. –  user4970 Feb 13 '11 at 21:55
    
wife of mine = "a wife that I have" –  user4970 Feb 13 '11 at 22:33

Why "of mine" rather than "of me"?

Evidently, it has to do with the function of the preposition "of" in standard modern English.

"That was kind of you to say." Here "of" creates a relationship between "you" and "kind", but does not indicate possession. It simply answers the question: "of whom?".

On the other hand: "Those were kind words of yours." Here, "of" indicates possession, inasmuch as it answers the question: "whose?"

There are certainly English dialect forms that conflate "of whom" and "whose", perhaps in the same way that informal modern German frequently uses the dative instead of the genitive case.

Do you mind me/my closing the window? This illustrates a case in point where standard modern English acknowledges the similarity of both forms.

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X of me is always ungrammatical, and I don't think there are any English constructions that use of me. The emphatic possessive construction is formed by of mine, and the equivalent using other persons (of yours, of hers, of Jane's, of the cat's, etc.)

There isn't a logical rule that explains why this is, and there doesn't need to be. That's just how the language works.

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Well, if it always had to be "of yours", "of Jane's", "of mine", etc., then we would say that the syntactic rule is that the "of" used for possession licenses genitive case. The problem is that you can also say "of Jane", "of the cat", which means that, for some reason, some forms don't have to get genitive case. It seems to just be some of the pronouns where it is required, "of mine" being one of those. –  Kosmonaut Aug 20 '10 at 22:27
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You'll never see any more of me! –  delete Aug 21 '10 at 3:57
    
That's not genitive case... –  Alan Hogue Aug 21 '10 at 5:06
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It sure as heck is genitive case. It's actually a matter of whether it is double genitive or not: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genitive_case#Double_genitive –  Kosmonaut Aug 21 '10 at 11:40
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♫ All of me, why not take all of me? ♫ –  mplungjan Mar 28 '11 at 9:22

protected by RegDwigнt Oct 20 '13 at 11:07

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