Conanne the Grammarian
Conanne’s attention has been engaged of late by the “Bill Sweater Problem.” How is it, Conanne wonders, that we say (or are urged to say) “a friend of Bill”, yet we say, just as possessively, “a sweater of Bill’s”? Bill stands in a possessive relationship to both friend and sweater, so this is puzzling, to say the least.
We can say “a friend of Bill’s”, but many think us wrong to do so (Conanne, however, is not among them). But we cannot say “a sweater of Bill”, unless perchance we have knitted ourselves one out of his shredded connective tissue.
As Conanne says, this is puzzling.
Also, Conanne is fed up with putting punctuation marks inside quotes when they are not part of the thing quoted. As above: “a sweater of Bill’s”, not “a sweater of Bill’s,” for example. The lone exception she will allow is the period at the end of a sentence that ends in a close quote, “like this.” And that grudgingly. If given her typographical druthers, Conanne would have the period right under the quotes, but this does not seem likely to happen. Not until she starts working on Patricia’s new books, anyway.