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I'm confused by this sentence:

One of my best friends band is playing tonight.

What is it that happens here, is the possessive marker completely dropped?

From what I understand:

  • I can't add an 's since "one of" refers to the group of friends
  • I can't add s' (friends') since the band is only one person's band.
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  • Easily fixed by My best friend's band if you are not tied to the unfixable structure you created, and you don't worry that someone may suspect you have no other best friends. Dec 14, 2020 at 16:47
  • Thanks for the reply! I see that I can fix it, I'm more interested in if this can be the correct way to say it in its current form, and if so, why.
    – spydon
    Dec 14, 2020 at 16:50
  • Does this answer your question? "The queen of England's crown" or "The queen's of England crown"? and previously mentioned at 'My wife and I's seafood collaboration dinner'? Dec 14, 2020 at 17:06
  • @EdwinAshworth I don't think so, since none of them involves a group?
    – spydon
    Dec 14, 2020 at 17:11
  • 3
    Yes. ''The Queen of England's crown'' = ''The crown of the Queen of England''. ''One of my best friends' band'' = ''The band of one of my best friends''. Dec 14, 2020 at 19:46

1 Answer 1

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English is fairly malleable, but it is still possible to paint yourself into a corner. One area this crops up is where a writer tries to make a word function in incompatible ways - such as being singular and plural simultaneously.

What’s happening in your example is that the “s” in “friends” can’t be coerced to do double duty to mark a plural (my friends) as well as a singular (one friend’s band).

There are several ways around this, one of which is to use a different syntax for the genitive / possessive: “the band of one of my friends ...”.

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  • Thank you! That makes sense.
    – spydon
    Dec 14, 2020 at 19:39
  • ''One of my best friends' band'' is as acceptable as ''the Queen of England's crown''. The whole NP (or whatever) is treated as if it were a noun. "The boy in the glasses' laptop". Dec 14, 2020 at 19:47
  • @EdwinAshworth There is no singular/plural tension in your example.
    – Lawrence
    Dec 15, 2020 at 1:28
  • ''One of my best friends' band'' = ''The band of one of my best friends''. "The Lord of the Isles' family crest". The apostrophe (where pronunciation requires it with an s) goes after the NP. 'Singular/plural tension' doesn't arise. Dec 15, 2020 at 16:25
  • @EdwinAshworth Yes, I guess you can argue that numerical agreement is already determined by the head noun, so the apostrophe convention becomes less important.
    – Lawrence
    Dec 16, 2020 at 5:31

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