What is the difference between this two sentences - 1. An friend of my father 2. A friend of my father's

  • It should be: A friend, "an" is placed in front of words that start with a consonant sound. – Mari-Lou A Nov 23 '13 at 18:36

They are two of the three genitive forms in English.

A friend of my father.

A friend of my father's.

My father's friend.

They are equivalent here, all of them referring to possession, but the second is only used for possession, making them distinct in some other cases:

A picture of my father.

A picture of my father's.

My father's picture.

Here the first would be used only to state that your father was the subject of the picture, the second only to state that your father owned the picture. The third would be ambiguous between those two readings.

  • i have got the meaning of your picture example. But didn't get the meaning of first. How to determine which form is correct and which form will mean what? – Man_From_India Nov 23 '13 at 16:44
  • As I said, they are all equivalent. They may differ in some case, as per the second example, but if possession is the only way to interpret the -'s form, then they'll all refer to possession. – Jon Hanna Nov 23 '13 at 17:08
  • I feel that in (2) it could be interpreted as: A friend of my father's [friend/colleague/neighbour etc.] Otherwise why add the possessive apostrophe? Isn't it superfluous? Whereas "A picture of my father's" clearly indicates who is the possessor of the picture. – Mari-Lou A Nov 23 '13 at 18:46
  • @Mari-LouA unless you actually included the "friend, colleague, etc." then why would one think that? It's not superfluous, as it's one of the standard English progressive form. – Jon Hanna Nov 23 '13 at 18:53
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA I did mean possessive. "Progressive" as a "thinko" for "possessive" must also mean I'm spending too much time on ELU! – Jon Hanna Nov 23 '13 at 19:37

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