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In expressions such as

We went to John's house.

The party was at my Mum's place.

it seems to be quite common to leave out "house" and "place", leading to

We went to John's.

The party was at my Mum's.

Q1) Are such short forms acceptable in (reasonably formal) written English?

Q2) Do similar short forms appear in the English language in other contexts?

For example, in a conversation along the lines of

Whose car did you take? - We took my Mum's.

it is clear that I can leave out "car" in the reply. However, I would be very confused by the sentence

We took my Mum's to get here.

whereas

We celebrated my birthday at my Mum's.

still makes sense.

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    We took my Mum's to get here is confusing because there's no direct object, whereas your next example does. To make sense, a direct object must at least be implied, as in We're going to John's. Sep 21, 2014 at 7:17
  • But I could also consider "We're going to John's" as short for "We're going to John's birthday party". Sep 21, 2014 at 7:19
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    That's why sentences like that one don't stand in isolation. If you want an entirely comprehensible sentence, it needs to be complete. Want to go to John's BD party? Sure, let's. Sep 21, 2014 at 7:34
  • You are of course right. But would you agree that in the context of people's homes, it is usually not necessary to provide the context because the short form is understood as referring to a home? Sep 21, 2014 at 8:22
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    Yes, I do agree. Sep 21, 2014 at 8:23

3 Answers 3

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I think this sentence construct is acceptable whenever it is obvious what the noun being referred to is and the ownership is clear.

The party was at my Mom's, We celebrated my birthday at my Mum's.

Here, it is obvious that the party was at your mother's place of residence, e.g., we know it is some kind of residence and we know your mother lives there. No one would think, for example, that the party was in your mom's car. If your mom lives in a car and you had a party in it I would probably use a different sentence structure.

We took my Mum's to get here.

This doesn't work because we don't know what the noun is! We took her horse, train, plane, car, bike, motorcycle,...? It is not at all obvious that you took a car.

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Used only in conversation and when the context is unambiguous.

  • "We went back to my mum's" - without a context makes no sense, and again
  • "We took my mum's to the mall" - requires a context to give it meaning.
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Similar short forms which are acceptable (at least in the UK and Australia) are;

1) We went back to mine. - We went back to my place.

2) Let's go back to our's. - Let's go back to our place.

3) Can we go back to your's? - Can we go back to your place?

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