Could it be true:

  • John's paintings of his cat were auctioned. = Some paintings made and owned by John depicting his cat were auctioned.
  • 2
    It's ambiguous. "John's paintings" could be painted by John, could be owned by John, could be both.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 3:43
  • 1
    The possessive in English (and many other language) does not always speak of pure ownership: Napolean's defeat at Waterloo is not a defeat that Napolean owned in the sense of a possession. So, since this site is for advanced users of English, I highly encourage you to do research on this topic. Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 4:28

1 Answer 1


It could be true (paintings not painting)

But a safer assumption is that John is deceased or had his property siezed by debt collectors, for him to be parting with mementos of his beloved pet.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.