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Plural possessive with separate posessions

Which of the following is more correct? Or is there another form I'm missing?

We drove to the movies in one of my buddy's car.
We drove to the theater in one of my buddies' cars.
We drove to the theater in one of my buddies' car.

I suppose the fundamental question is: does this phrasing suggest "one of [the collection of cars owned by my buddies]" or "the car owned by [one of my buddies]"?

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@MattЭллен Good find; however, the answer to that question is of a completely different form. I'm looking to select the (colloquially) correct sentence of a similar form to the ones I suggested. –  jtbandes Apr 3 '12 at 13:12
    
@jtbandes: I see nothing in your question that's not in the original. Buddy is pluralised or not primarily depending on whether more than one buddy has a car that might have been used. Colloquially, car is normally pluralised - largely because no-one wants to get bogged down in the question of whether "one of" identifies a specific buddy, or a specific car (although common, the syntax is inherently ambiguous). –  FumbleFingers Apr 3 '12 at 16:26
    
Also see this one: english.stackexchange.com/questions/52751/… –  Jay Apr 3 '12 at 16:52
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marked as duplicate by Matt Эллен, Mitch, Jim, FumbleFingers, jtbandes Apr 3 '12 at 17:25

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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you mean "one of the cars belonging to one buddy":

We drove to the movies in one of my buddy's cars.

If you mean "one of the cars belonging to one of my buddies" or "the one car owned by one of my buddies":

We drove to the theater in one of my buddies' cars.

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I think that "We drove to the movies in one of my buddy's car." is incorrect because "one of" implies a plural, which is lacking.

Both of the latter two forms are correct. The first means "one of the cars belonging to my buddies", and would be appropriate, for example, if you are talking about buddies who are car collectors. The last means "the car belonging to one of my buddies".

My gut feeling is that in common usage, the last form "one of my buddies' car" would be the best usage, because we usually think of someone driving their car, or having a car, even when they have more than one. [I use "they" rather than "his" in the last sentence following post-modern usage.]

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I chose to say "buddies' cars" because my thinking was that even if only one car is the one being driven, it's likely in this context that one is speaking about more than one possible car, in addition to talking about more than one buddy. If there were only one car in question, it wouldn't make near as much sense to leave the owner ambiguous. I think "one of my buddies' car" is grammatically correct, but it sounds strange, at least to me. –  asfallows Apr 3 '12 at 15:12
    
"One of my buddies' car" sounds correct to me - native American English speaker from Seattle, vintage 1953, expat since 1977. We would have considered "one of my buddies' cars" to be a linguistic marker of a low prestige speaker unless clearly referring to multiple cars. Common US usage today might be as you state though, so I think that your choice is Ok. The language has moved on since my days in the US. –  Eli Rosencruft Apr 3 '12 at 15:31
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