What is Alex Rodriguez missing?

What’s missing in this teaser on the Yahoo! front page?

fp teammate of

Can’t figure it out? Here’s a hint: Substitute a pronoun for “Alex Rodriguez.”

A former teammate of he? Nah, that doesn’t sound right.

A former teammate of him? Nope, that ain’t right either.

A former teammate of his? Bingo!

The correct expression is “a former teammate of Alex Rodriguez’s.” It’s called a double possessive and according to the Associated Press style guide, two conditions must apply for a double possessive:

  • The word after of must refer to an animate object (in this case, Alex Rodriguez) and
  • The word before of must involve only a portion of the animate object’s possessions. (Since Mr. Rodriguez has more than one teammate, this criterion is met, too).

5 Responses to “What is Alex Rodriguez missing?”

  1. Tucker Latham Says:

    Excellent explanation!

    • Laura Says:

      Thanks! I live to serve.

      • Tucker Latham Says:

        You’re welcome. I forgot to mention that the headline was chuckle-worthy too – I also engage in this kind of snark, but some versions are just downright tedious. Consider The Number One Grammatical Mistake of All-Time (TM):

        Facebook user: “Your welcome, Brian.”
        Me: “What, indeed, about his welcome? As a person who has never been a guest at Brian’s house, I am curious as to how gracious a host he is. Thanks!”

        Pearls before swine. 🙂 Thanks again!

  2. lectorconstans Says:

    Grammar rule 357-B, subsection 12, paragraph 18, note 33.

    On the other hand, “… a portion of the animate object’s possessions” couldn’t apply, since teammates aren’t possessions.

    (Maybe subsection 13 clarifies.)

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