I “literally” agree with the Frisbie essay on the overuse and misuse of certain words and phrases, such as “My head literally exploded.” (Democrat, “If not us, whom?” Saturday, March 29).
I here present a word use that I cannot justify or explain: several friends including two with Ph.D. degrees also could not. Perhaps S.L. Frisbie will “ask the world” to help me.
Universally we hear people say “He is a friend of mine,” “They are friends of ours,” and the like, with other personal possessive pronouns.
I understand “He is my friend” and “He is a friend of me,” (rarely heard, although grammatically correct), but what or who is the “mine” referred to?
Something that is mine, I own. I can say “That car is mine,” or “This house is mine,” or possibly (forgive me ladies) “This woman is mine.”
Now which of those possessions might the speaker be the friend of? A friend of my house, of my car, or of my woman? Or has he something else of mind when he uses the possessive pronoun?
Those sentences are nonsense, but are used by every speaker of English that I ever met or listened to. We all know what the speaker intended to convey. He is communicating, but how did such absurd grammar get into our language?
Whoever can explain this to me will be my friend but please, not a friend of anything that I own. However, he could be a friend of my friend, if that is his meaning.
Arland R. MeadeBartow