Possessives with of

We cannot usually use a possessive word before another determiner and a noun. We can say my cat, their cat, a cat or that cat, but not a my cat or that my cat. Instead we use a structure with of + possessive.

Word order: determiner + noun + of + possessive

  • He is a friend of mine. (NOT He is a my friend.)
  • She is a colleague of my father’s. (NOT He is a my father’s colleague.)
  • Have you heard this new idea of the boss’s?
  • He got the President’s Award for a painting of his.
  • A cousin of mine serves in the army.
  • He is a cousin of the Minister.

Own is commonly used in a similar structure.

  • I wish I had a car of my own. (= I wish I had a car of mine.)
  • They have an apartment of their own in the city. (= They have an apartment of theirs in the city.)

The of + possessive structure is sometimes used to express slight contempt or indignation.

  • That cat of yours has drank up all the milk.
  • Those dirty fingers of yours have stained my walls.
  • That boy of yours has broken my window again.