Submitted by Sbee  •  January 4, 2013

“my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive

Is this correct?

“I so appreciate you taking mine and Gregg’s child to school today.”

Is it correct to use “mine” or should I say “my”?

Comments Sort by:   Oldest first  •  Latest first  •  Rating

No. "Mine" is only used on its own, not before a noun:

“I so appreciate you taking my and Gregg’s child to school today.” - but I would suggest "our child" or the kid's name would be more natural than "my and Gregg's child"?

Is this your child? That's mine over there.
This is my child. Is that yours over there?

3 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

While I agree with Warsaw Will, wouldn't it still be grammatically correct to use "mine" in this case, if you were to think of "mine" as referring to "my child"? That is, what if the original sentence was this?:

"I so appreciate you taking my child and Gregg’s child to school today.”

This should be grammatically correct although it would be stylistically better not to repeat "child" twice.

What if we then replaced "my child" with "mine"? Wouldn't it still be grammatically correct?

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@Dyske - OK, but I think Gregg's child should come first in that case to make clear what "mine" is referring to:

"I so appreciate you Gregg’s child and mine to school today.”

In fact, it's not very clear from the original whether we are talking about one or two children. If it is one, and the speaker still wants to mention both themself and Gregg, then I think "Gregg's and my child" would be more natural than "My and Gregg's child". And if there are two - I would prefer "Gregg's and my children", I think.

3 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@Sbee - I know it's not what you asked, but the more I think about it, the less reason I see to mention either Gregg or me; the other person knows whose child is involved. If we introduce our daughter to somebody I don't think we usually say, "This is Gregg's and my daughter", but either "This is our daughter" or "This is my daughter". Secondly, I think we'd be more likely to say "my son" or "my daughter" than "my child", wouldn't we? Or as I said before, simply use their name:

"I so appreciate you taking Ben / my son / our son to school today".

Or for the more formally minded:

"I so appreciate your taking Ben / my son / our son to school today".

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Yes, I think "Gregg's and my" is preferable.

2 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

For the example given in the original question, my is correct and mine grammatically impossible - the rest is just style.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@semiotek - I agree that what you say is the answer to the original question, but the rest is not just about style, it's about sounding natural. I just don't think that "my and Gregg's child" is natural English. It doesn't sound to me like something a native speaker would say.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@Warsaw Will
"Mine" is only used on its own, not before a noun:

What about "mine host"? :-))

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@Hairy Scot - touché

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@Warsaw Will, I agree with almost all that you said, except for one thing. You said that the original sentence is not very clear. I disagree. Every version put forth so far has a very specific meaning:

"I so appreciate you taking Gregg’s and my child to school today.”

can only mean that Greg and you have one child together and someone took him or her to school.

"I so appreciate you taking my and Gregg’s child to school today.”

can only mean the same thing. A few would say this is ungrammatical, with "my" coming first, but if not ungrammatical, it is at least considered rude by all. This pronoun shift is completely unacceptable, even in informal speech. If you talk like this, everyone, "educated" or not, will think you're a young teenager who can't put down their cellphone.

"I so appreciate you taking Gregg’s child and mine to school today.”

can only mean Greg has a child, you have a different child, and someone took both children to school.

"I so appreciate you taking mine and Gregg’s child to school today.”

can also only mean Greg has a child, you have a different child, and someone took both children to school. While this also may or may not be grammatical, it is still rude. See the comment above about "my".

If you and Greg had more than one child together, then the only way to say it would be

"I so appreciate you taking Gregg’s and my children to school today.”

Note, evey single one of these versions is completely unambiguous. Possibly all are grammatical, but some are to be avoided for reasons mentioned.

Last, Will, your comment about the need to mention Greg is very well taken. Specifically for cases where Greg and you have a child together, it would be extremely unlikely to mention Greg at all (which makes it even clearer that "mine" meaans two different kids). First, by mentioning Greg, it's at least implied that he's not actually present. If that was the case, why would he even be mentioned? You would simply say

"I so appreciate you taking my child to school today.”

Greg's siring would be completely irrelevant (but not ungrammatical). Perhaps that's why it would sound awkward.

2 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Hi porsche, I'm still not so sure. I totally agree that all the sentences you've given are unambiguous, but they're all the results of our interpretation of the original sentence. OK, as sbee then asks if it should be 'my', he does make it clear, but if we take the original sentence as it stands without that remark, then I still think it is unclear. I thinkl that's what I meant.

Mine means something like 'my one(s)' so I think the sentence as it stands can be read two ways:

Either it's a mistaken version of - “I so appreciate you taking my and Gregg’s child to school today.” - therefore one child

Or it could be read: “I so appreciate you taking my one (i.e. my child) and Gregg’s child to school today.” - therefore two children

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Instead of:

“I so appreciate you taking mine and Gregg’s child to school today.”

Use this:

“I so appreciate you taking Gregg’s child and mine to school today.”

Or even:

“I so appreciate you taking Gregg’s and my child to school today.”

Usually, in English, manners determine that the other person comes first in a sentence. Certainly it rules in cases where two pronouns are used.

More natural, in the course of a conversation where it was understood that two children, one being Gregg's, were involved, would be this sentence:

“I so appreciate you taking our children to school today.”

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@John Gibson - and your second example has the advantage that the possessive pronoun comes after "child", so it now has an antecedent. But I agree with you that the last is probably most natural.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

how about the "you taking" shouldn't that be your taking? just curious

2 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@annp

Yes, indeed. This is dubbed, if I recall, the "fused particle" construction and may be the way I would express it in speech. In fact, I might refer to "the children", rather than "our children", given that one of the children was not mine.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@annp - it is indeed what Fowler called the fused participle, but whether you use a possessive with it or not is purely a matter of formality. In object position, in informal language, object pronouns are fine.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Thank you both for your erudition :) ... for the last 20 years or so I have been proofreading woefully informal writing written in a formal venue designed for the discussion of serious and weighty topics. Too bad formal writing is so outré.

1 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@ Warsaw Will - What about "I so appreciate you taking me and Gregg's child to school today"?
Now, I know that at first sight, it seems wrong - the "me" could come across as a 'dangling object', as if the addressee were taking two people to school: the speaker, and Gregg's child.
However, in speech, one would say, "Jack said Romeo and Juliet's love was eternal". It wouldn't be "Jack said Romeo's and Juliet's love was eternal". So, if we transfer this rule onto the original sentence, could it not be "me and Gregg's child", which sounds more natural despite risking the intrusion of a 'dangling object'?
(I am aware that in speaking, no-one would actually phrase it like this. But for the purpose of argument, let's say we had to, and we had to make it grammatically correct.)

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@ArjSaj - I take your point about Romeo and Juliet's love where we only need one possessive noun when two people have joint possession of something, but I don't think it works for pronouns. Would you say 'this is me and Jenny's bedroom' or 'that's him and her house'? I think not. So I would suggest it's the same with 'me and Gregg's child'. And as you say, it could be rather confusing.

Try reversing it, because actually I would say 'this is Jenny's and my bedroom' or 'this is Gregg's and my child' (if I'm the mother). But in standard English, at least, 'this is Jenny's and me bedroom' or 'this is Gregg's and me child' wouldn't work, although 'Juliet and Romeo's love' does. So I'm afraid I don't think you can necessarily extrapolate pronoun behaviour from the way nouns work.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@Warsaw Will - thanks, that clears it up rather well! You're right. In any case, this is all hypothetical. There are far cleaner, less ambiguous ways of saying these things!

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

'My' is not a possessive pronoun and 'Mine' is a possessive pronoun.

'My' is a determiner which is always used before a noun.

For Example: My Book. Not, Mine book.

Once you have mentioned the Noun, you can use the pronoun i.e., the possessive pronoun 'Mine'

Example: A: Can you give your book?
B: Nope.
C: Please, take mine. (Since there was a noun (Book) already mentioned, a pronoun can be used.

1 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@Syed Usman - " 'My' is not a possessive pronoun, 'My' is a determiner and 'Mine' is a possessive pronoun." Were it only so easy!

In EFL, we certainly refer to "my" etc as determiners and "mine" as possessive pronouns in the way you do, as do most British dictionaries, especially learner's dictionaries and grammar books aimed at foreign learners. And for me this is certainly the system that makes most sense - a pronoun standing in for a noun and a determiner referencing a noun..

In nineteenth century grammar, and earlier, however, "my" etc were indeed categorised as (dependent) possessive pronouns, while "mine" etc were classed as independent possessive pronouns.

Then some grammarians started classing "my" etc as possessive adjectives, an idea that prevailed until the idea of determiners was born, fairly recently. And you will still see "my" etc referred to as possessive adjectives on many grammar websites.

But then to complicate things, a newer generation of theoretical reference grammars have gone back to classing them as possessive pronouns. The highly influential Comprehensive Grammar of the English Grammar, by Quirk, Greenbaum et al (1985) has a word class (part of speech) - determiners (articles, "this" etc) - which have a "determinative" function. But for them, "my" etc are not determiners, but are listed as possessive pronouns with a determinative function, while "mine" etc are listed as personal pronouns with an independent function.

To further complicate matters, the latest reference grammar, the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, by Rodney Huddleston, Geoffrey Pullum et al (2002), reverses the role of the words determiner and determinative, so that "determinative" is now the word class and "determiner" the function. But they also exclude "my" etc from this word class, and list them as possessive pronouns having a determiner function.

To summarise, you and I, the EFL world and the main British dictionaries refer to "my" etc as determiners. Many ESL websites refer to "my" etc as possessive adjectives, while both the earliest prescriptivist grammars and the latest descriptivist reference grammars refer to "my" etc as possessive pronouns, having a determinative or determiner function, depending on whether you favour Quirk and Greenbaum or Huddleston and Pullum.

So it looks as though everybody's right.

Having said all that, I agree with your basic analysis.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

From a sheer ESOL standpoint, the less terminology the better: 'my' is an adjective and needs a following noun. "Mine" doesn't need a following noun. KISS.
A 'determiner' is someone who determines something..... ;0}}

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

You good people may wish to also consider the by-no-means-uncommon use of the phrase/interjection in British English speech of "my, my" or "my-my" (there are over 5,000,000 google references to the phrase!). There is a Ringo Starr song called 'Oh, my-my" and there is one by Taylor Swift:

"Mary's Song (Oh My My My)"

She said, I was seven and you were nine
I looked at you like the stars that shined
In the sky, the pretty lights
And our daddies used to joke about the two of us
Growing up and falling in love and our mamas smiled
And rolled their eyes and said oh my my my

Take me back to the house in the backyard tree
Said you'd beat me up, you were bigger than me
You never did, you never did
Take me back when our world was one block wide
I dared you to kiss me and ran when you tried
Just two kids, you and I...
Oh my my my my

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@jayles - I agree with you about terminology when teaching foreign learners, but this is a language forum, where we should be able to discuss these things. And then you yourself use a piece of terminology - adjective (both adjectives and determiners are word classes in EFL and much of ESL) - one which is almost never used to categorise "my" in EFL.

To me an adjective tells us something about the inherent quality of something, which "my" does not. If you and I both have fast red Italian sports cars, fast, red and Italian tell us something about the nature of the cars - "my" and "your" tell us nothing about the nature of the cars, simply whose or which they are. So it seems logical to me to class them with other determiners such as articles, demonstratives and interrogatives.

The second problem about calling them adjectives is that if students look them up in a dictionary or modern grammar book (apart from those monster reference books I mentioned, they will be referred to as determiners. I quite agree about K.I.S.S. so I use the same term students will find elsewhere.

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/en...

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/engli... (EFL)

http://www.myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/gr... (ESL/EFL)

Here's one site that does treat them as adjectives, though:
http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/sample/beginner/gs... (adjectives)

Good discussion about the change from adjective to determiner at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determiner

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@WW perhaps I just meant "like an adjective" or "works like an adjective". One should remember that in Mandarin some "adjectives" work like verbs ; a bit like brown in ;
"brown bread", "the pies brown under the grill"; so sometimes even basic terminology doesn't get one far.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@jayles - I do agree with you about keeping terminology to a minimum in lessons, and I grant you that students are much likely to know what adjectives are than determiners. And to use your analogy, we also often use nouns as adjectives.

In fact, I think I just refer to "my"etc as possessives if the need arises, which isn't that often (they don't seem to cause many problems for Polish learners, at least). But course books occasionally refer to determiners, so I have to be able to explain them.

The point I was making to Syed Usman was that it's dangerous to talk in absolutes in language. Just because his language community and mine refer to "my" etc as determiners and "mine" etc as "possessive pronouns" it doesn't mean that someone else referring to "my" etc as possessive pronouns is necessarily wrong. That's no doubt how many linguists refer to them, for example.

I learnt this the hard way. I had just written a post for my blog on determiners and pronouns, when I saw a rather (unfairly in my view) poor review of an EFL grammar book on a blog with a distinctly linguistics slant. One of the reviewer's complaints was that the book referred to "my" etc as determiners, when they were in fact (in his opinion) pronouns. When I dared to comment that this was absolutely standard in EFL, he quoted Huddleston and Pullum at me, and I was given a lecture about "determinatives" (which I had never heard of - neither I think, have many people).

As I was rather worried I'd got it all wrong in my blog post, I did some investigating into the whole determiner / determinative thing (it's a bit of a mess), hence my mention of those two reference books. But I have one strong principle on my blog, which is that I use the mainstream terminology of EFL, so I'm sticking with the standard EFL and dictionary definition of determiner I'd already used, and leaving the weird and wonderful stuff to the linguists..

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

@WW I agree. If anyone asked what a determiner is, I'd just give them a list.
BTW in Hungarian, possession is done with noun endings not separate words.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Your Comment