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What's the difference between "any of my X" and "any X of mine"? My impression, as a non-native speaker of English, is that the latter sounds more formal.

I searched COCA Corpus, and I found:

  • any of my X: total 808 hits
  • any X of mine: total 67 hits (X is a single word, but multiple word cases are not so many.)

Note: You (usually) don't say "my any X" (but you say "my every"; see this question.

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    They're both fine, I don't see a significant difference in meaning, and which one sounds more natural to me depends on what X is.
    – nnnnnn
    Jan 17, 2020 at 8:21
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    Without X and without context it's impossible to say. For example, if X is 'daughter' the meanings are utterly different. Jan 17, 2020 at 12:26
  • @OldBrixtonian: I wonder if you could explain how these two differ. It would help English learners, at least me, i.e. I don't know the difference. :P (Or if you think it's too obvious, I'll delete this question, and re-post it to ell.stackexchange.com) Jan 20, 2020 at 5:34
  • Please tell me the context in which you want to use the expressions. Is X always an abstract noun? Is it always plural? Jan 20, 2020 at 8:14
  • @OldBrixtonian: I was simply curious, and since I'm clueless - my grammar books don't say any - it's completely up to you. But now I suspect this question is better asked at ell.SE, and not so appropriate for ESE. To make an answer valuable at this site, maybe it should discuss the origin of the difference of two, which look syntactically interchangeable. (None is responsible for such a burden. ;-) Jan 24, 2020 at 0:10

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Firstly, the difference is not to do with formal/informal.

In "any of my X" I HAVE X.

In "any X of mine" I may or may not have X.

"any of my X" is common in everyday speech:
- If you need help please ask any of my staff.
- Were any of my ideas useful?

"any X of mine" is less common (as you discovered) and it gives greater emphasis to the word 'mine'. In fact when "any X of mine" is spoken the word "mine" is often stressed.

If any of my students would like to go to the concert would they please let me know.
If any students of mine would like to go to the concert would they please let me know.
- There is no difference in meaning at all between these two.

I wouldn't let any of my children go to that park.
- The meaning is clear. [If there were only two children then of course it would be "either of my children."]

I wouldn't let any child of mine go to that park.
- If I had any children (and I MAY have) I wouldn't let them go to that park.
Here there's an implied criticism of parents who DO let their children go to that park.

1) No-one has ever called any of my soldiers slovenly.
- The officer is not necessarily being proud here. He might even be amused.
2) No-one has ever called any soldier of mine slovenly.
- The officer is proudly taking the credit for having a smart platoon: smarter than yours perhaps.

NOTE! In sentence 1 it would be possible to stress the my and become as boastful as the officer in 2, though not as pompous. Perhaps it's this pomposity that you identified as formality. In certain situations "any X of mine" can sound rather superior.

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  • There can be quite a difference between cases of 'any X of mine' etc where X is a non-count usage. 'I can't afford to spend any of my time on it' and 'I'm not giving him any of my money' seem firm favourites (though 'I can't afford to spend any time of my own ...' is idiomatic). Jan 26, 2020 at 15:37
  • @OldBrixtonian: Very lucid explanation! Let me attempt to clarify from where the differences come from. (1-a) In "any of my children", "my children" already implies they exist, I think , but (1-b) "any child" can be fictitious, and if they exist, they necessarily belong to me. If parentheses indicate precedence (like math), it's "any of (my children)" vs "(any child) of mine" that matters here. Jan 28, 2020 at 11:14
  • (2-a) "Any of my soldiers" is similar to the above. It simply means "none of my soldiers". Ok, but I'm not sure of the other: (2-b) "Any soldiers of mine" sounds to me "none, aaabsoluutely none!". One thing I noticed is that in the examples of "any child" and "any soldiers", "any" is (to some extent) stressed when pronounced, OTOH in "any of my children/soldiers", "any" can be weak, and if stressed, its effect is to emphasize the entire sentence. (In the example of the students, "any" is usually not stressed. This might be the point.) Jan 28, 2020 at 11:14

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