I know that a friend of mine is a used phrase, but is the phrase also used with other personal possessive adjectives?

I met a friend of his.


Here are some stats from the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the British National Corpus, and Google:

                      COCA    BNC    Google

a friend of mine      1227    230    33.90M
a friend of his        274     53    25.30M   
a friend of hers       130     20     7.63M
a friend of ours        82     13    13.10M
a friend of theirs      25      3     1.82M

Average number of incidences per million words in different contexts (COCA):


...mine     6.08    3.10    3.30      1.35      .52
...his       .95    1.06     .56       .48      .18
...hers      .32     .73     .3        .14      .05
...ours      .51     .23     .15       .05      .02
...theirs    .08     .12     .02       .04      .04

Yes, I've heard that quite a few times in England and initially I was quite confused by it as well. Also note that in some cases there is a subtle difference between "a XXXXX of him" and "a XXXXX of his". For example, "a photo of him" is a photo on which he is to be seen, while "a photo of his" is a photo which he possesses (but not necessarily appears on it).

  • Is it also used in American English, or is it used only in British English? – kiamlaluno Jan 26 '11 at 9:43
  • @kiamlaluno: It's also perfectly good American English. – Jon Purdy Jan 26 '11 at 9:46
  • Yes, *"A friend of him" is something that I believe no native English speaker would say. – Colin Fine Jan 26 '11 at 11:54
  • @Colin That's going a bit far, I've heard many english speakers say that. Perhaps incorrectly sometimes, but it would be perfectly good english to say (for example) "he should make a friend of him, not an enemy." – ghoppe Jan 26 '11 at 15:54
  • 1
    @ghoppe: Picky. Your example is "make [a friend] [of him]". It doesn't include the phrase "a friend of him". – Colin Fine Jan 26 '11 at 16:10

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