This seems baffling, but what is special about today's?
I think it comes down to this:
We cannot use two genitives to modify a single noun.
At least not outside Indian English.
Today's is a "genitive".
I don't want to use the common possessive here, because it's hard to imagine actual possession in this case. For this answer I will use "genitive" to refer ...
Usually, a noun phrase in English must have exactly one determiner: you can say "I drove the car" or "I drove my car", but not "I drove car" or "I drove the my car".
Certain nouns (such as plural nouns and proper nouns) don't need determiners: "I love bees", "I love milk", "I love Paris", "I love biology". But I can't think of a case where it's ever legal ...
To me, "Friend of Peter" and "Friend of Peter's" mean the inverse of each other.
In "Joe is a friend of Peter", Joe is the active person in the friendship - it describes Joe's active relationship to Peter. Peter is one of the people Joe expresses friendship toward.
In "Joe is a friend of Peter's", Peter is the active person in the friendship - it ...
As @FX_ points out, it’s called a double genitive or double possessive.
In this example, it’s not compulsory: both a friend of Bill’s and a friend of Bill are correct, although the first is probably more common. (Usage data, anyone?)
If Bill were replaced by a pronoun, however (poor Bill!), the double genitive would be required: a friend of mine is ...
A friend of Susan’s is a double genitive, which has been a feature of English grammar for centuries, and it is the normal alternative to one of Susan’s friends. Just as most people would say a friend of mine, rather than a friend of me, so a friend of Susan’s, rather than a friend of Susan, would be the natural choice in most contexts.
This is perhaps best explained by providing the relevant extract from the ‘Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English’:
The double genitive is a special construction in which either the
independent genitive or a possessive pronoun occurs in an of-phrase:
This was a good idea of Johnny’s.
There’s a talk by this lady from Boulder ...
I buried my lede way down below. Headline summary: I believe the evidence shows that the choice is conditioned by a combination of semantic and syntactic criteria, namely animacy, definitiness, type of possession, and weight. It doesn't appear to be a hard and fast rule, but rather a tendency to choose between forms based on the semantics. It's very likely, ...
I think I have an example in which the phrase "our today's meeting"
might be uttered by a speaker of English, at least in informal conversation.
Alice and Bob are in an office in New York, USA,
talking on the phone to Colleen, who is in an office in Perth, Australia.
Alice, Bob, and Colleen are members of a team
working on a project together, for which ...
The problem with both statements is the inclusion of "the one".
Quite formal sounding but acceptable ...
"That action would not increase my satisfaction, but that of my driver."
More relaxed but keeping your original structure ...
"That action would increase my driver's satisfaction but not mine"
Conversational but (hopefully) ...
It’s misleading to think of the apostrophe as a possessive marker. It’s more helpful to think of it as a genitive inflection, certainly capable of expressing possession (John’s car), but also used to specify or classify the reference of a noun (the girl’s face, a bird’s nest), to indicate time and place (a week’s holiday, the country’s capital) and to refer ...
You could say either. However, it would perhaps be more natural to say a friend of John's, as the Original Poster suggests. The reason for this is that the speaker will probably want to mark the noun phrase as indefinite.
Noun phrases in English come in two parts. For example, in the noun phrase a huge elephant, the first part is ...
The double genitive certainly exists in English and often takes the form a friend of my brother’s. However, neither of the examples you give is likely to be produced by a native speaker. A clearer way of putting it would be That action would not increase my satisfaction but it would increase my driver's. Even that sounds a little strange. More probable, ...
No, you have to use the so-called “double genitive” here:
About those boots of Ralph Paton’s.
It has to be a noun or pronoun in the possessive case, not in the subject case. That’s why it is
a friend of mine
a friend of *me
See other questions with the double-genitive tag for more examples and explanation.
The construct you suggest is rather awkward as you said yourself. The best way to talk about the specific house is to rephrase the sentence and say instead: "...this will probably entail a party at the house of one of the families."
Barrie England's answer is useful, but doesn't address
(a) the reason that the double genitive is used
(b) the sum total of the restrictions on its use
I can't begin to answer the first of these points, but have some additional remarks to make about the second:
(1) The Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English says correctly:
As these ...
They're examples of the double genitive/possessive, which is perfectly valid and has been around in English for centuries. The of already denotes "possession", but we do this again when we use mine/his instead of me/him.
The fact that we don't say John is a friend of me/him is really just idiomatic for those particular forms. But that "idiomatic principle" ...
Your primary question is 'why'. But first the phenomenon.
All prepositions in English take the objective case, except for 'of' which takes the possessive, with pronouns.
the unmarked case being more formal and the possessive more informal.
So that's just the ...
The first example is the correct usage as it is the object of the nephew of your uncle's sister.
It's my uncle's sister's nephew's object
It does not matter how many people are in the list, each one will still have a possessive apostrophe in a list like this.
It's my uncle sister nephew's object
This doesn't make any sense as it describes ...
I agree with oerkelens' answer, but I am surprised no one has mentioned that the expected form, at least in British English, would normally be "our meeting today". For example, "We welcome Professor David Morrison to our meeting today." While I think most of the grammatical arguments are valid, the main reason I sense "our today's meeting" to be wrong is ...
Avoid ambiguity and use the full name if possible.
St. John's College's admissions office
St. John's Hospital's triage area
If not, rephrase.
The schoolhouse of St. John's, Redhill
@waiwai933: This is what I've always
done, I just wondered if there was any
clever punctuation you could use to
avoid this kind of rephrasing. I'm
My guess would be that the friend of mine/his/ours constructions are simply idioms. Pronouns are far more restricted in their occurrences than are nouns, and occur in far more idioms than any noun can, just because Pronouns are a closed class. Pronouns have to fit the slots we need them for.
For instance, if you used of him or of them, you'd virtually have ...
The problem is that both these sentences are written poorly. The word "one" cannot be used of an abstract noun such as "satisfaction". I think that "that" would be better. A change in word order would remove the ambiguity of the second sentence: "That action would increase not my satisfaction but my driver's". In fact, in these cases, there is no need ...
I had always imagined that the evolution of this originated in a slightly different meaning of of. If you interpret of in the sense of out of or among, then you can think of a friend of his/Peter's as a shorter form of a friend out of all of his/Peter's friends. Note that you are much less likely to say the friend of Peter's unless it is by contrast to ...
Alzheimer's is correct. There is no double possessive in the English language. You can chain possessives (as in your example St Paul's Cathedral's arches). You can also shorten noun phrases (Alzheimer's disease routinely gets shortened to Alzheimer's).
It’s a double genitive, described in the ‘Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English’ as
. . . a special construction in which either the independent genitive or a
possessive pronoun occurs in an of-phrase . . . [T]he main noun
phrase typically begins with the indefinite article. In fact, the
definite article does not normally combine ...
This is a grammatical issue I am curious about, as I have always used "of Doug's", not "of Doug" in such sentences. Your question has prompted me to do some more research.
Swan's Practical English Usage, 3rd ed. does not address the controversy but does give several 'double possessive' sentences, such as She's a friend of my father's so presumably ...
I tried to verify the premise, but at least from Google's corpus I couldn't confirm it with "friend of Peter." vs. "friend of Peter's." In the British corpus, there isn't a single instance of the former. In the American corpus both are represented, but "friend of Peter's" is still slightly more common.
The Saxon genitive was once a proper case in English. ...