Hello, teachers!

Would you please tell me which is correct?
1. Those students of Mr Smith('s) are going to the gym.
2. A cousin of my wife('s) is coming to visit next week.

And how about these?
1a. Those students in/of Mr Smith's class are going to the gym.
2a. One of my wife's cousins is coming to visit us next week.
I think these [1a & 1b] sound more natural. What do you say?

Thank you very much.
Best regards.

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Original Post
Both of your original sentences are correct. They are written this way:

1. Those students of Mr. Smith's are going to the gym.
2. A cousin of my wife's is coming to visit next week.

This kind of possession with both "of" and the possessive "-˜s" (the double possessive) is called the post-genitive or double genitive in Quirk*. It is used to show one of many existing people or things belonging to the head noun.

With this use, in the second sentence, the speaker's wife has more than one cousin, one of whom is coming to visit next week. In the first sentence, "those" has a rather special use; see the correspondence from the old Grammar Exchange Newsgroup below this posting.
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Your sentences 1a. and 1b. are also correct, but not necessarily more natural sounding. Your 1a. would be best with "in" or "from" as the preposition:

"Those students in/from Mr Smith's class are going to the gym."

The sentence means the same as your first sentence.

In 2a., "one of my wife's cousins" means the same as "a cousin of my wife's."

Rachel
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*A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, by Quirk et al. Longman. 1985

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Here are postings on the double possessive from the Grammar Exchange Newsgroup of November, 2002:

Topic: Possessive apostrophe with 'of'
Conf: The Grammar Exchange
From: GrammarExchange
Date: 22 November 2002 01:35

The construction with "of" plus a possessive noun or pronoun– known as the double possessive, the double genitive or the post-genitive – is sometimes used to indicate one among others.

If we contrast your sentence (1) with sentence (1a):

(1) We know a lot about this achievement of Lewis'

(1a) We know a lot about Lewis' achievement,

we see that sentence (1) implies that Lewis has had several achievements, or at least more than one achievement. On the other hand, sentence (1a) refers to only one of Lewis' achievements, and indeed the implication is that it is the only one.

Other examples of phrases exemplifying the double possessive are

a friend of mine
a student of Professor Franklin's
an idea of Galileo's

This double possessive construction cannot be used in all cases, however. The noun following "of" must be definite and human as in the phrases above. We normally don't say "a student of a professor's," or "an idea of a scientist's, nor would we say "a window of the house's."

Also, the head noun – the noun before "of" – must be indefinite. We could not say "the friend of mine," or "the student of Professor Franklin's," or "the idea of Galileo's."

Nor can the head noun be a proper noun. "Jim of mine," "Mary Smith of Professor Franklin's," and "Elizabeth of Galileo's" are not used.

Similarly, your sentence (2) connotes that Lewis had more than one achievement.

If there were only one achievement, the sentence might appear as (2a):

(3) To what achievement of Lewis' does a tour of the town attest?

(2a) What is Lewis' achievement that a tour of the town attests to?

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Topic: Possessive apostrophe with 'of'
Conf: The Grammar Exchange
From: mysesame
Date: 23 November 2002 09:48

The double genitive does not necessarily involve the meaning of more-than-oneness.

"These eyes of mine" in the following sentence from a pop song does not mean that the speaker has more than two eyes:

I don't know why these eyes of mine are crying.

Chuncan Feng
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Topic: Possessive apostrophe with 'of'
Conf: The Grammar Exchange
From: GrammarExchange
Date: 23 November 2002 05:45

Chuncan Feng is correct. There is an additional use of the double genitive: with "this," "that," "these" or "those," it could be interpreted as a kind of partitive. In the song with "these eyes of mine," the singer may mean "this part of me, of all of me that is crying -- this part, my eyes."

Of course, in the case of a song, the construction may be been used for the sake of rhythm alone. Nevertheless, this use of the construction is explained in Quirk et al* in section 17.46.

Rachel
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*A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik. Longman. 1985

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Topic: Possessive apostrophe with 'of'
Conf: The Grammar Exchange
From: GrammarExchange
Date: 23 November 2002 08:09

There's yet another case in which the noun need not be
indefinite. The noun need not be indefinite when it is
followed by an identifying (restrictive) relative clause.
The "indefinite" use is

A play of Shakespeare's that I'd love to see is "The
Winter's Tale"

However, the noun may be used with the definite article as
well:

The play of Shakespeare's that I like the most is
"The Winter's Tale"

Curiously, this fact has not been treated in any of the
reference grammars I know of.


Marilyn Martin

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