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Which of the following is grammatical?

  1. That action would not increase my satisfaction, but the one of my driver's.
  2. That action would not increase my satisfaction but my driver's one

I think 1) is correct, whilst 2) is wrong, isn't it?

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I think the fundamental grammatical problem here is that you can't use "one" for mass nouns. – Peter Shor Jul 5 '12 at 12:06
It is not clear whether you mean your driver's satisfaction or your driver's action. – GEdgar Jul 5 '12 at 12:40
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The double genitive certainly exists in English and often takes the form a friend of my brother’s. However, neither of the examples you give is likely to be produced by a native speaker. A clearer way of putting it would be That action would not increase my satisfaction but it would increase my driver's. Even that sounds a little strange. More probable, depending on the circumstances, would be something like Doing that doesn’t make me any happier, but my driver seems to like it.

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The problem with both statements is the inclusion of "the one".

Possible alternatives:

Quite formal sounding but acceptable ...

  • "That action would not increase my satisfaction, but that of my driver."

More relaxed but keeping your original structure ...

  • "That action would increase my driver's satisfaction but not mine"

Conversational but (hopefully) staying true to your original intent ...

  • "That would satisfy my driver but not me."
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Neither sounds right to me. I think it would be better stated this way:

That action would not increase my satisfaction, but that of my driver.

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The problem is that both these sentences are written poorly. The word "one" cannot be used of an abstract noun such as "satisfaction". I think that "that" would be better. A change in word order would remove the ambiguity of the second sentence: "That action would increase not my satisfaction but my driver's". In fact, in these cases, there is no need for a pronoun, as "satisfaction" is easily implied in the second clause. The alternatives presented by ljj101 are all better than both original sentences, although the first is not great.

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