General Writing and Grammar Help/Double possessives


Dear Mr Johnson

Which is correct, "I have never been to a concert of Rihanna" or "I have never been to a concert of Rihanna's"?

My choice would always have been "a concert of Rihanna's," but I was confused to see the following in Daily Mail:

"Indonesian Muslim women hold posters during a protest against a concert of Lady Gaga in Jakarta."

And the following in The Nation (Thailand):

"'I'm often asked why I'm choosing to go against K-pop current these days,' says Kittiwat Manosuthi, CEO of Avalon Live, who launched his new company with the Asia Tour concert of J-pop artist Tomohito Yamashita, aka Yamapi, after having focused on concerts by Korean stars for four years."

So, maybe I'm simply not in touch with the current trends? Is it "a concert of Rihanna's" (that is, a concert given -- not possessed -- by Rihanna), "a book of Hemingway's" (a book written -- not possessed - by Hemingway), or should it be the way Daily Mail has it? Are these true possessives or rather descriptives?

Thanks a ton for your comments!


Hello Dmitry - and thanks for your question

"I have never been to a concert of Rihanna" - this option is NOT grammatically correct.

"I have never been to a concert of Rihanna's" - this option IS grammatically correct.

However, it is not very elegant English. A better alternative would be to say:

"I have never been to a Rihanna concert".

Do not take grammar lessons from newspapers - especially the Daily Mail. They often make grammatical mistakes in their headlines and picture captions.

"Indonesian Muslim women hold posters during a protest against a concert of Lady Gaga in Jakarta."

This too should be  "... a protest against a Lady Gaga concert ..."

It would be a "a book BY Hemingway" - written by him - or "a book of Hemingway's" - OWNED by him.

I think you have got the concept right. It's the Daily Mail that's wrong.

Hope that helps!

Best wishes

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Roy Johnson


I can answer questions on English language, grammar, writing skills, and study skills. I am particularly experienced in the writing skills required for academic essays, term papers, reports, dissertations, and post-graduate theses.


I have forty years experience as a tutor and as the author of books on writing and study skills. For thirty years I was a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association, which specialises in courses for adult students and preparing mature students for university. I was also a tutor for the Open University between 1975 and 2010. During that time I have also written a number of books on writing and study skills. In the last ten years or more I have specialised in creating computer-aided learning materials and online learning courses.

"Making the Grade" (Manchester University Press) 1990 "Studying Fiction" (Manchester University Press) 1991 "Marking Essays" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Revision and Examinations" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Writing Essays" (Clifton Ress) 1996 "Study Skills" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Electronic Writing" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Improve your Writing Skills" (Clifton Press) 2010 "Writing Essays 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "English Language 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "Study Skills 2.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program]

My first degree was in mechanical engineering (HNC). I then switched to literary studies and philosophy. My second degree was a BA in English and American Literature (from Manchester University - UK). I also have an MA in Comparative Literary Studies, and my doctoral thesis (PhD) was in the relationship between literature and politics.

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