A Friend of Yours?

Are you a friend of John or a friend of John’s? Often writers will leave off the “possessive” apostrophe+s, but you need it. Think about these two phrases:

A portrait of King Henry

A portrait of King Henry’s

In the first instance, you have a portrait of the king. In the second instance, the king owns a portrait. There’s a huge difference in meaning here. So are you a friend of John? No, you are John’s friend—a friend of John’s. And hopefully, he is a friend of yours (not a friend of you).

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  1. Hello! Please, help me to understand when should I use “of” or a possessive (apostrophe+s).
    For example: World’s problems X Problems of the world. OR Week’s days X Days of the week.
    Thank you!

    1. It depends on the context. So often writers will say something like “he pushed on the shoulder of John” instead of “he pushed on John’s shoulder.” The latter, of course is neater and less awkward. But there’s nothing wrong with saying “she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders” (other than it is a cliche). You can say either “Let’s tackle the world’s problems” or “Let’s tackle the problems of the world.” It’s up to you, and if a character is speaking, it would depend on their speech and background.

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