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Many of his books are...

His many books are...

Many books of him/himself/John/Alex/etc...

Would you kindly tell me the exact difference between these?

  • possible duplicate of Usage of "many" vs "many a"? – FumbleFingers Jan 25 '14 at 17:28
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    Your third example has the wrong form. It should be "many books of his", "many books of John's", and so forth. It means the same thing as the first one, but would be used much less frequently. – Peter Shor Jan 25 '14 at 18:36
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Maybe I can explain the difference in the sentences by telling you that not all of the sentences are correct.

The first sentence is correct:

Many of his books are fantasy novels/crime novels. Many of his priceless books were destroyed in the fire. I enjoyed reading many of his books.

The second sentence His many books . . . is a formal style of English, but most people don't speak or write like this. Most people write and say: *Many of his _*.

Many of his books . . . as you wrote in the first sentence.

The third sentence is also grammatically false and would not be spoken or written by a native-English speaker. This is not English sentence structure. Again, the correct way to express this thought is:

Many of his books/John's books/her books were stolen during the burglary.

In English, you can never say Many books of himself. The most common way to say this is expressed in your first sentence, Many of his books . . .

To avoid grammatical or structural mistakes, it's best to use basic language or language that is in common use.

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    Actually, the second sentence is merely florid, not ungrammatical. Compare Her many accomplishments merit high praise. This construction (there are many, many constructions with many) presupposes that she has many accomplishments, and asserts that they merit high praise. Many of her accomplishments merit high praise says something rather different, and much less fulsome. – John Lawler Jan 25 '14 at 17:53
  • @John Lawler. I did hesitate saying His many books . . . was not correct English. As a long-time EFL instructor abroad, I've learned to simply explanations so as to not overwhelm low-level learners. You'll agree, though, that it's not common usage and it's unlikely that any non-native learner of English will be speaking or writing at this level of the language. I'll edit it to that effect. – Babs Jan 25 '14 at 18:11
  • @Babs: Yeah, that's what I meant by 'florid'. Suitable for introductions of distinguished speakers by local custardheads, and the like. I started off my career with EFL, too (back when everybody called it "EFL", in fact). – John Lawler Jan 25 '14 at 18:26
  • @Babs: In light of your edit, I've cancelled my downvote and deleted the first comment. But I will just say that I don't think ELU is the right site for a non-native learner of English to be asking this type of question. By implication, the answers here should not be pitched at that level (but your approach would certainly be more than welcome on English Language Learners, so I do urge you to check that out). – FumbleFingers Jan 25 '14 at 21:07

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