PLURAL COMPOUND NOUNS (problem children, special cases)
COLLECTIVE NOUNS, COMPANY NAMES
PLURALS AND APOSTROPHES
SINGULAR SUBJECTS, PLURAL PREDICATES, ETC
Count Nouns versus Non-Count Nouns
Possessives & Gerunds
Possessives versus Adjectival Labels
Possessives of Plurals & Irregular Plurals
Possessives & Compound Constructions
(number of pages 13)
In my study work about the issues on English grammar, I have selected a
topic “English Nouns”. Hereinafter, have tried to research some
difficulties related with usage of Nouns of English, their singular and
plural forms, Possessives, Gerunds, Possessives of Plurals and Irregular
Plurals. Also, I noticed that often there are mistakes done with the
usage of company and team names, known such as “Collective Nouns”. I
hope that my small research will highlight some of these difficulties
and pour a ray of the light on these problematical issues within the
frames of my knowledge. As source of scientific back up following
research materials and textbooks were used:
Keys for Writers: A Brief Handbook by Ann Raimes. Houghton Mifflin: New
A University Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum.
Longman Group: Essex, England. 1993.
English Grammar by Janshina M. D. and Vasilevskaya N. Moscow. 1958.
Lexico - Grammatical Difficulties of English by Deeva I.N. Leningrad.
A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea. Whatever exists,
we assume, can be named, and that name is a noun. A proper noun, which
names a specific person, place, or thing (Carlos, Queen Marguerite,
Middle East, Jerusalem, Malaysia, Presbyterianism, God, Spanish,
Buddhism, the Republican Party), is almost always capitalized. Common
nouns name everything else, things that usually are not capitalized.
A group of related words can act as a single noun-like entity within a
sentence. A Noun Clause contains a subject and verb and can do anything
that a noun can do:
What he does for this town is a blessing.
A Noun Phrase, frequently a noun accompanied by modifiers, is a group of
related words acting as a noun: the oil depletion allowance; the
abnormal, hideously enlarged nose.
There is a separate section on word combinations that become Compound
Nouns — such as daughter-in-law, half-moon, and stick-in-the-mud.
Categories of Nouns
Nouns can be classified further as count nouns, which name anything that
can be counted (four books, two continents, a few dishes, a dozen
buildings); mass nouns (or non-count nouns),
which name something that can't be counted (water, air, energy, blood);
and collective nouns, which can take a singular form but are composed of
more than one individual person or items
(jury, team, class, committee, herd). We should note that some words can
be either a count noun or a non-count noun depending on how they're
being used in a sentence:
a.He got into trouble. (non-count)
b.He had many troubles. (countable)
c.Experience (non-count) is the best teacher.
d.We had many exciting experiences (countable) in college.
Whether these words are count or non-count will determine whether they
can be used with articles and determiners or not. (We would not write
"He got into the troubles," but we could write about "The troubles of
Some texts will include the category of abstract nouns, by which we mean
the kind of word that is not tangible, such as warmth, justice, grief,
and peace. Abstract nouns are sometimes troublesome for non-native
writers because they can appear with determiners or without: "Peace
settled over the countryside." "The skirmish disrupted the peace that
had settled over the countryside." See the section on Plurals for
additional help with collective nouns, words that can be singular or
plural, depending on context.
Forms of Nouns
Nouns can be in the subjective, possessive, and objective case. The word
case defines the role of the noun in the sentence. Is it a subject, an
object, or does it show possession?
The English professor [subject] is tall.
He chose the English professor [object].
The English professor's [possessive] car is green.
Nouns in the subject and object role are identical in form; nouns that
show the possessive, however, take a different form. Usually an
apostrophe is added followed by the letter s (except for plurals, which
take the plural "-s" ending first, and then add the apostrophe). See the
section on Possessives for help with possessive forms. There is also a
table outlining the cases of nouns and pronouns.
Almost all nouns change form when they become plural, usually with the
simple addition of an -s or -es. Unfortunately, it's not always that
easy, and a separate section on Plurals offers advice on the formation
of plural noun forms.
Assaying for Nouns
Back in the gold rush days, every little town in the American Old West
had an assayer's office, a place where wild-eyed prospectors could take
their bags of ore for official testing, to make sure the shiny stuff
they'd found was the real thing, not "fool's gold." We offer here some
assay tests for nouns. There are two kinds of tests: formal and
functional — what a word looks like (the endings it takes) and how a
word behaves in a sentence.
2.Can the word take a plural-making morpheme? pencils,
3.Can the word take a possessive-making morpheme?
4.Without modifiers, can the word directly follow an
article and create a grammatical unit
(subject, object, etc.)? the state, an apple, a
5.Can it fill the slot in the following sentence:
"(The) _________ seem(s) all right." (or
substitute other predicates such as unacceptable,
short, dark, depending on the word's
Testing the Tests: With most nouns, the test is clear. "State," for
example, can be a plural ("states"), become a possessive ("state's"),
follow an article ("a/the state"), and fit in the slot ("the state seems
all right"). It doesn't have a noun-making morphene, but it passes all
the other tests; it can pass as a noun. (The fact that "state" can also
be a verb — "We state our case" — is not relevant.) "Greyness" cannot
take plural ending nor can it be possessive, but it does contain a
noun-making morphene and it can follow an article and fit in the slot
sentence. Can the word "grey," which is obviously also an adjective, be
a noun? It's hard to imagine it passing any of the formal tests, but it
can follow an article and fill the slot: "The grey seems acceptable."
And what about "running," which is often part of a verb (He is running
for office)? Again, it won't pass the formal tests, but it will fit the
slot sentence: "Running is all right." (It can also follow an article,
but in rather an odd way: "The running is about to begin.") "Grey" and
"running" are nouns, but just barely: one is an adjective acting like a
noun, and the other is a verb acting like a noun (a gerund).
The plural form of most nouns is created simply by adding the
more than one snake = snakes
more than one ski = skis
more than one Barrymore = Barrymores
Words that end in -ch, x, s or s-like sounds, however, will
require an -es for the plural:
more than one witch = witches
more than one box = boxes
more than one gas = gases
more than one bus = buses
more than one kiss = kisses
more than one Jones = Joneses
In addition, there are several nouns that have irregular plural
forms. Plurals formed in this way are
sometimes called mutated (or mutating) plurals.
more than one child = children
more than one woman = women
more than one man = men
more than one person = people
more than one goose = geese
more than one mouse = mice
more than one barracks = barracks
more than one deer = deer
And, finally, there are nouns that maintain their Latin or
Greek form in the plural. (See media and
data and alumni, below.)
more than one nucleus = nuclei
more than one syllabus = syllabi
more than one focus = foci
more than one fungus = fungi
more than one cactus = cacti (cactuses is acceptable)
more than one thesis = theses
more than one crisis = crises*
more than one phenomenon = phenomena
more than one index = indices (indexes is acceptable)
more than one appendix = appendices (appendixes is acceptable)
more than one criterion = criteria
*Note the pronunciation of this word, crises: the second
syllable sounds like ease. More than one
base in the game of baseball is bases, but more than one basis
for an argument, say, is also bases,
and then we pronounce the word basease.
A handful of nouns appear to be plural in form but take a
The news is bad.
Gymnastics is fun to watch.
Economics/mathematics/statistics is said to be difficult. ("Economics"
can sometimes be a
plural concept, as in "The economics of the situation demand that . . .
Numerical expressions are usually singular, but can be plural
if the individuals within a numerical
group are acting individually:
Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money.
One-half of the faculty is retiring this summer.
One-half of the faculty have doctorates.
Fifty percent of the students have voted already.
And another handful of nouns might seem to be singular in
nature but take a plural form and always
use a plural verb:
My pants are torn. (Nowadays you will sometimes see this word as a
singular "pant" [meaning one pair of pants] especially in clothing ads,
but most writers would regard that as an affectation.)
Her scissors were stolen.
The glasses have slipped down his nose again.
When a noun names the title of something or is a word being
used as a word, it is singular whether
the word takes a singular form or not.
Faces is the name of the new restaurant downtown.
Okies, which most people regard as a disparaging word, was first used to
describe the residents of Oklahoma during the 1930s.
Chelmsley Brothers is the best moving company in town.
Postcards is my favorite novel.
The term Okies was used to describe the resident of Oklahoma during the
1930s. (In this
sentence, the word Okies is actually an appositive for the singular
PLURAL COMPOUND NOUNS
Compound words create special problems when we need to pluralize them.
As a general rule, the element within the compound that word that is
pluralized will receive the plural -s, but it's not always that simple.
Daughters-in-law follows the general rule, but cupfuls does not. See the
special section on Compound Nouns and Modifiers or, better yet, a good
dictionary, for additional help.
Many careful writers insist that the words data and media are Latin
plurals and must, therefore, be used as plural words. The singular Latin
forms of these words, however, are seldom used: datum as a single bit of
information or medium as a single means of communication. Many
authorities nowadays approve sentences like My data is lost. and The
media is out to get the President. Even textbooks in computer science
are beginning to use "data" as a singular.
Alumni and alumnae remain problematic. The plural of masculine singular
alumnus is alumni; the plural of feminine singular alumna is alumnae. In
traditional Latin, the masculine plural form, alumni, could include
both genders. This does not go over well with some female alums. We
note, furthermore, that Vassar College, which now has both, has lists of
alumni and alumnae. Hartford College for Women, we assume, has only
alumnae. In its publication style manual, Wesleyan University approves
of alumni/ae. The genderless graduate and the truncated and informal
alum have much to commend them.
With words that end in a consonant and a y, you'll need to
change the y to an i and add es.
more than one baby = babies
more than one gallery = galleries
(Notice the difference between this and galleys, where the final y is
not preceded by a
more than one reality = realities
This rule does not apply to proper nouns:
more than one Kennedy = Kennedys
Words that end in o create special problems.
more than one potato = potatoes
more than one hero = heroes
. . . however . . .
more than one memo = memos
more than one cello = cellos
. . . and for words where another vowel comes before the
o . . .
more than one stereo = stereos
Plurals of words that end in -f or -fe usually change the f
sound to a v sound and add s or -es.
more than one knife = knives
more than one leaf = leaves
more than one hoof = hooves
more than one life = lives
more than one self = selves
There are, however, exceptions:
more than one dwarf = dwarfs
more than one roof = roofs
When in doubt, as always, consult a dictionary. Some dictionaries, for
instance, will list both wharfs and wharves as acceptable plural forms
of wharf. It makes for good arguments.
COLLECTIVE NOUNS, COMPANY NAMES
There are, further, so called collective nouns, which are singulars when
we think of them as groups and plural when we think of the individuals
acting within the whole (which happens sometimes, but not often).
audience family kind
band flock lot
class group [the] number
committee heap public
crowd herd staff
dozen jury team
Thus, if we're talking about eggs, we could say "A dozen is probably not
enough." But if we're talking partying with our friends, we could say,
"A dozen are coming over this afternoon." The jury delivers its verdict.
[But] The jury came in and took their seats. We could say the Tokyo
String Quartet is one of the best string ensembles in the world, but we
could say the Beatles were some of the most famous singers in history.
Note that "the number" is a singular collective noun. "The number of
applicants is steadily increasing." "A number," on the other hand, is a
plural form: "There are several students in the lobby. A number are here
to see the president."
Collective nouns are count nouns which means they, themselves, can be
pluralized: a university has
several athletic teams and classes. And the immigrant families kept
watch over their herds and flocks.
The word following the phrase one of the (as an object of the
preposition of) will always be plural.
One of the reasons we do this is that it rains a lot in spring.
One of the students in this room is responsible.
Notice, though, that the verb ("is") agrees with one, which is
singular, and not with the object of the
preposition, which is always plural.
The names of companies and other organizations are usually regarded as
singular, regardless of their ending: "General Motors has announced its
fall lineup of new vehicles." Try to avoid the inconsistency that is
almost inevitable when you think of corporate entities as a group of
individuals: "General Motors has announced their fall lineup of new
vehicles." But note that some inconsistency is acceptable in all but the
most formal writing: "Ford has announced its breakup with Firestone
Tires. Their cars will no longer use tires built by Firestone." Some
writers will use a plural verb when a plural construction such as
"Associates" is part of the company's title or when the title consists
of a series of names:
"Upton, Vernon, and Gridley are moving to new law offices next week" or
"Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego & Associates have won all their cases this
year." Singular verbs and pronouns would be correct in those sentences,
The names of sports teams, on the other hand, are treated as plurals,
regardless of the form of that name. We would write that "The Yankees
have signed a new third baseman" and "The Yankees are a great
organization" and that "For two years in a row, the Utah Jazz have
attempted to draft a big man."
PLURALS AND APOSTROPHES
We use an apostrophe to create plural forms in two limited situations:
for pluralized letters of the alphabet and when we are trying to create
the plural form of a word that refers to the word itself. Here we also
should italicize this "word as word," but not the 's ending that belongs
to it. Do not use the apostrophe-s to create the plural of acronyms
(pronounceable abbreviations such as LASER and IRA and URL*) and other
abbreviations. (A possible exception to this last rule is an acronym
that ends in "S": "We filed four NOS's in that folder.")
Jeffrey got four A's on his last report card.
You have fifteen and's in that last paragraph.
Notice that we do not use an apostrophe -s to create the plural of a
word-in-itself. For instance, we would refer to the "ins and outs" of a
mystery, the "yeses and nos" of a vote (NYPL Writer's Guide to Style and
Usage), and we assume that Theodore Bernstein knew what he was talking
about in his book Dos, Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage. We would also
write "The shortstop made two spectacular outs in that inning." But when
we refer to a word-as-a-word, we first italicize it — I pointed out the
use of the word out in that sentence. — And if necessary, we pluralize
it by adding the unitalicized apostrophe –s
"In his essay on prepositions, Jose used an astonishing three dozen
This practice is not universally followed, and in newspapers, you would
find our example sentence written without Italics or apostrophe: "You
have fifteen ands in that last paragraph."
Notice that we do not use an apostrophe to create plurals
in the following:
The 1890s in Europe are widely regarded as years of social decadence.
Rosa and her brother have identical IQs, and they both have PhDs from
She has over 400 URLs* in her bookmark file.
Authority for this last paragraph: Keys for Writers: A Brief Handbook by
Ann Raimes. Houghton Mifflin: New York. 1996.
SINGULAR SUBJECTS, PLURAL PREDICATES, ETC.
We frequently run into a situation in which a singular subject is linked
to a plural predicate:
Favorite breakfast is cereal with fruit, milk, orange juice, and toast.
Sometimes, too, a plural subject can be linked to singular predicate:
Mistakes in parallelism are the only problem here.
In such situations, remember that the number (singular or plural) of the
subject, not the predicate, determines the number of the verb.
A special situation exists when a subject seems not to agree with its
predicate. For instance, when we want each student to see his or her
counselor (and each student is assigned to only one counselor), but we
want to avoid that "his or her" construction by pluralizing, do we say
“Students must see their counselors" or "Students must see their
The singular counselor is necessary to avoid the implication that
students have more than one counselor apiece.
Do we say "Many sons dislike their father or fathers"?
We don't mean to suggest that the sons have more than one father, so we
use the singular father. Sometimes good sense will have guided you.
Do you say "Puzzled, the children scratched their head/heads"? Although
"heads" might momentarily suggest some multi-headed children, that's
better than the picture of several children scratching a single head.
In "The boys moved their car/cars," the plural would indicate that each
boy owned a car, the singular that the boys (together) owned one car
(which is quite possible). It is also possible that each boy owned more
than one car. Be prepared for such situations, and consider carefully
the implications of using either the singular or the plural. You might
have to avoid the problem by going the opposite direction of
pluralizing: moving things to the singular and talking about what each
Count Nouns versus Non-Count Nouns
The concept of count versus non-count nouns presents special
difficulties for students for whom English is a second language. For one
thing, the determination of what nouns are countable and what nouns are
non-countable is by no means universal. For instance, although somebody
can advise us several times, we can't say they give us advises, although
that would translate quite nicely into several other languages. We would
say, in English, that they give us advice. In some languages, it makes
sense to sit in a restaurant with a friend and ask for waters (and get
two glasses of water) — something that would sound quite peculiar in
English. There are categories of count and non-count nouns and
interesting ways in which these categories overlap and merge into one
another. The following table will illustrate these categories. In this
table, the words in reverse type (white on black) are either impossible
or quite unlikely. (Seinfeld is the name of a popular American
Nouns that would fall into the column 1 category,
along with Seinfeld, would be called proper nouns and proper nouns are
generally non-countable (exceptions: We can say that "there are four
Harrys in the room," and political entities such as the U.S. Virgin
Islands can be countable when used as geographical entities — "the
Virgin Islands are among the most beautiful . . ." — and a definite
article is used with such pluralized geographical names).
Nouns in the other three columns are common nouns.
In column 2, along with tree, we could place count-nouns that
we regard always as individual,
In column 3, we could place non-count nouns like dancing that
are not countable, things that we
regard as "undifferentiated mass" (like the water we spilled
on the floor, one big mess, as opposed
to the beads that we spilled on the floor, dozens of little
In column 4, we could place nouns such as paper, stone, and
cake that can be either count or
non-count nouns. For instance, I can enter a bakery and say "I
want a cake" (an individual bakery
product), or, before we enter, I can tell a friend that "I
want cake" and not refer to a specific cake
but simply mean that the idea of eating cake appeals to me —
any cake or piece of cake with
chocolate frosting will do, thank you.
It is this fourth column of nouns that confounds many writers. The
distinction we make here between count and non-count is important for
two reasons: it makes a difference whether we use an article with the
noun or not and the meaning of the word can change depending on whether
it's being used in its count or non-count form.
She had many experiences.
Does she have enough experience?
The lights were bright.
Light hurts my eyes.
There's a hair in my soup!
Hair is important on a cold day.
Give me three coffees.
I'd love some coffee.
We study sugars in organic chemistry.
Put sugar in my coffee.
The papers were stacked on the table.
We wrote on paper.
When a non-count noun is used to classify something, it can be treated
as a count noun. Thus, wine is usually a non-count noun ("I'd love wine
with dinner."), and even if we have more than one glass of wine, we're
still enjoying wine, not wines. But when we put wine into categories,
the noun becomes countable: "There are many fine Canadian wines." Even
water can become countable under the right circumstances: "the waters of
the Pacific Ocean are noticeably colder this year." Sometimes a noun
will be either countable or non-countable and mean practically the same
Chilean wine is superb.
Chilean wines are superb.
Ideas for the above tables are based on material found in A University
Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum. Longman
Group: Essex, England. 1993.
Showing possession in English is a relatively easy matter (believe it or
not). By adding an apostrophe
and an s we can manage to transform most singular nouns into their
the car's front seat
a hard day's work
Some writers will say that the -s after Charles' is not necessary and
that adding only the apostrophe (Charles' car) will suffice to show
possession. Consistency is the key here: if you choose not to add the
-s after a noun that already ends in s, do so consistently throughout
your text. William Strunk's Elements of Style recommends adding the 's.
(In fact, oddly enough, it's Rule Number One in Strunk's "Elementary
Rules of Usage.") You will find that some nouns, especially proper
nouns, especially when there are other -s and -z sounds involved, turn
into clumsy beasts when you add another s: "That's old Mrs. Chambers's
estate." In that case, you're better off with "Mrs. Chambers' estate."
There is another way around this problem of clunky possessives: using
the "of phrase" to show possession. For instance, we would probably say
the "constitution of Illinois," as opposed to "Illinois' (or Illinois's
To answer that question about Illinois, you should know that words that
end in an unpronounced "s" or "x" (including many foreign words and
proper nouns) form their possessives with only an apostrophe. So we
would write "Illinois' basketball team" and "Alexander Dumas' first
novel" and "this bordeaux' bouquet." According to the New York Public
Library's Guide to Style and Usage, there are "certain expressions that
end in s or the s sound that traditionally require an apostrophe only:
for appearance' sake, for conscience' sake, for goodness' sake" (268).
Incidentally, this book also suggests that when a word ends in a double
s, we're better off writing its possessive with only an apostrophe: the
boss' memo, the witness' statement. Many writers insist, however, that
we actually hear an "es" sound attached to the possessive forms of these
words, so an apostrophe -s is appropriate: boss's memo, witness's
statement. If the look of the three s's in a row doesn't bother you, use
Many writers consider it bad form to use apostrophe –s possessives with
pieces of furniture and buildings or inanimate objects in general.
Instead of "the desk's edge" (according to many authorities), we should
write "the edge of the desk" and instead of "the hotel's windows" we
should write "the windows of the hotel." In fact, we would probably
avoid the possessive altogether and use the noun as an attributive: "the
hotel windows." This rule (if, in fact, it is one) is no longer
universally endorsed. We would not say "the radio of that car" instead
of "that car's radio" (or the "car radio") and we would not write "the
desire of my heart" instead of "my heart's desire." Writing "the edge of
the ski" would probably be an improvement over "the ski's edge,"
For expressions of time and measurement, the possessive is shown with
an apostrophe -s: "one
dollar's worth," "two dollars' worth," "a hard day's night," "two
years' experience," "an evening's
Remember that personal pronouns create special problems in the formation
Possessives & Gerunds
Possessive forms are frequently modifiers for verb forms used as nouns,
or gerunds. Using the possessive will affect how we read the sentence.
For instance, "I'm worried about Joe running in the park after dark"
means that I'm worried about Joe and the fact that he runs in the park
after dark (the word "running" is a present participle modifying Joe).
On the other hand, "I'm worried about Joe's running in the park after
dark" puts the emphasis on the running that Joe is doing ("running" is a
gerund, and "Joe's" modifies that verbal). Usually, almost always in
fact, we use the possessive form of a noun or pronoun to modify a
gerund. More is involved, however.
Possessives versus Adjectival Labels
Don't confuse an adjectival label (sometimes called an "attributive
noun") ending in s with the need for a possessive. Sometimes it's not
easy to tell which is which.
Do you attend a writers' conference or a writers conference?
If it's a group of writers attending a conference, you want the plural
ending, writers. If the conference actually belongs to the writers,
then you'd want the possessive form, writers'. If you can insert another
modifer between the -s word and whatever it modifies, you're probably
dealing with a possessive. Additional modifiers will also help determine
which form to use.
Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe threw three touchdown passes. (plural
The Patriots' [new] quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, threw three touchdown
Possessives of Plurals & Irregular Plurals
Most plural nouns already end in s. To create their possessive, simply
add an apostrophe after the s:
The Pepins' house is the big blue one on the corner.
The lions' usual source of water has dried up.
The gases' odors mixed and became nauseating.
The witches' brooms were hidden in the corner.
The babies' beds were all in a row.
With nouns whose plurals are irregular (see Plurals), however, you will
need to add an apostrophe followed by an s to create the possessive
She plans on opening women's clothing boutique.
Children's programming is not a high priority.
The geese's food supply was endangered.
(But with words that do not change their form when pluralized, you will
have to add a -s or -es.)
The seaweed was destroyed by the fishes' overfeeding.
When you are showing possession with compounded nouns, the apostrophe's
placement depends on whether the nouns are acting separately or
Miguel's and Cecilia's new cars are in the parking lot.
This means that each of them has at least one new car and that their
ownership is a separate matter.
Miguel and Cecilia's new cars are in the parking lot.
This means that Miguel and Cecilia share ownership of these cars. The
possessive (indicated by 's) belongs to the entire phrase, not just to
Lewis and Clark's expectations were very much the same.
The means that the two gentlemen held one set of expectations in common.
Lewis's and Clark's expectations were altogether different.
This means that the expectations of the two men were different (rather
obvious from what the sentence says, too), and that we signify separate
ownership by writing both of the compounded proper nouns in the
Possessives & Compound Constructions
This is different from the problem we confront when creating possessives
with compound constructions such as daughter-in-law and friend of mine.
Generally, the apostrophe -s is simply added to the end of the compound
structure: my daughter-in-law's car, a friend of mine's car. If this
sounds clumsy, use the "of" construction to avoid the apostrophe: the
car of a friend of mine, etc. This is especially useful in pluralized
compound structures: the daughters-in-law's car sounds quite strange,
but it's correct. We're better off with the car of the daughters-in-law.
Do we say "a friend of my uncle" or "a friend of my uncle's"? In spite
of the fact that "a friend of my uncle's" seems to overwork the notion
of possessiveness, that is usually what we say and write. The double
possessive construction is sometimes called the "post-genitive" or "of
followed by a possessive case or an absolute possessive pronoun". The
double possessive has been around since the fifteenth century, and is
widely accepted. It's extremely helpful, for instance, in distinguishing
between "a picture of my father" (in which we see the old man) and "a
picture of my father's" (which he owns). Native speakers will note how
much more natural it is to say "He's a fan of hers" than "he's a fan of
Generally, what follows the "of" in a double possessive will be definite
and human, not otherwise, so we would say "a friend of my uncle's" but
not "a friend of the museum's [museum, instead]." What precedes the "of"
is usually indefinite (a friend, not the best friend), unless it's
preceded by the demonstratives this or that, as in "this friend of my
In conclusion, I would like to repeat myself that the fact and samples
provided by myself in my study work are not complete coverage of the
theme. This is just a brief introduction to the massive subject named
“English Nouns”. It will take a lot of time and efficiency to provide a
full coverage of the topic. But I do hope that the information contained
is giving a description of the subject or at least a small part of it.