my and my wife's

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my and my wife's

Post by navi » Wed Dec 01, 2021 11:27 pm

1) We have invited my and my wife's co-workers.
2) We have invited my wife's and my co-workers.
3) We have invited the co-workers of me and my wife.

4) We have invited my wife and I's co-workers.
5) We have invited I and my wife's co-workers.
6) We have invited me and my wife's co-workers.

Which are grammatical?
Which are idiomatic?

In which case:
a) we have the same co-workers
in which case:
b) we have different co-workers
and in which case:
c) things are unclear and there might even be overlap

Gratefully,
Navi
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Re: my and my wife's

Post by Phil White » Thu Dec 02, 2021 1:47 am

They are all excellent solutions ... provided that the speaker had fully intended to be as obtuse as possible.

I really don't think that a native speaker would generally approach such an idea in this way.

"My wife and I have invited some of the people we work with." (Pragmatics resolve the ambiguity. If not, the utterance is ambiguous, as is much of what people say every day.)
"My wife has invited some of the people she works with and I have invited some of the people I work with."

Yes, there is an issue with dual possessive adjectives. Few people could say with certainty what is correct (and I do not exclude myself). So native speakers will generally avoid the problem.

If I found myself going down that syntactical path, I think I would go for:
"We have invited some of my wife's and my colleagues."
This is grammatically sound. The reversal of "my and my wife's" has two advantages. Firstly, it is a convention in "polite" speech that one always mentions the other person first in collocations such as "you and I", "Harry and I", "my wife and I". The convention is widely, but certainly not universally, observed in the UK. Secondly, it puts some badly needed distance between the two instances of "my". But the sentence is still not pretty.

In casual speech, I would guess that the most common form of this type of structure is "some of me and my wife's colleagues". It is a grammatical abomination, but you will certainly hear this construction. I very much suspect that I have perpetrated such ghastliness in my time. But it really is casual speech.

And yes, I avoided "co-workers". Generally, it is not as widespread in the UK as in the US, and if it is used, it is not really used in relation to one's own colleagues. It is more often seen in memos from the HR department. The first time I saw it in a translation, it had been automatically hyphenated as "cow-orkers", which says it all, really.
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Re: my and my wife's

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Dec 02, 2021 3:44 am

I have nothing to add to Phil's excellent analysis, but it does strike me that one obvious formulation which would probably suffice 90 per cent of the time is

My wife and I have invited our co-workers.
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Re: my and my wife's

Post by trolley » Thu Dec 02, 2021 4:10 am

...and for more clarity "My wife and I have invited our respective co-workers"...even though you still might need to explain who works with who(m?) and whether or not any of them are mutual friends...
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Re: my and my wife's

Post by tony h » Sun Dec 05, 2021 1:24 pm

I thought I would explore a nuance in a number of these:

1) We have invited my and my wife's co-workers.
2) We have invited my wife's and my co-workers.

3) We have invited the co-workers of me and my wife.

First I will make the comments about 1. The same comments apply to 2 but in the reverse order.
The "and my wife's" has a sense , in the way it is used, that the "and my wife's" is an afterthought or a lesser relationship to the co-workers. I imagine a number of scenarios including : a man spends 20 years building up his company with loyal staff. He marries (maybe a much younger woman) and a month later makes her a director of the company for tax reasons. A position for which she is totally unsuited. So it is his company, his co-workers but the bedroom will feel chilly if he doesn't include his wife.

Most of the constructions have the feel of remembering half way through the sentence that the speaker needs to include the wife.

Both Erik's "My wife and I have invited our co-workers" and Trolley's "My wife and I have invited our respective co-workers" are good. I do wonder what the omitting of "our" would do. "My wife and I have invited co-workers" and "My wife and I have invited respective co-workers". My immediate thought is that with "our" there is a suggestion that all co-workers have been invited and that they are shared co-workers.
Without "our" it suggests that the co-workers are not shared and not all the co-workers are invited.

Having said that, I do wonder what the circumstances would be to need to explicitly state any version of "my wife and I". The most obvious cases would simply only need "we". "Are you coming to the celebration on Thursday?" "Yes. We have (also) invited our co-workers".

If I wanted to make it clear that we had separate co-workers I would probably say something like: "my wife and I have both invited our co-workers". Or more likely: "i have invited my co-workers and my wife has invited hers". These only indicate separate invitations there is still the unlikely possibility that workers will get an invitation from both. It seems that unless you specifically state the co-workers are different that there is left the possibility of overlap.

PS personally I would never use the word "co-workers" , it would always be "colleagues" . However I was amused by a missive from within one of our institutions where my cognitor referred to his colleagues as his "co wokers".
Last edited by tony h on Mon Dec 06, 2021 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: my and my wife's

Post by navi » Sun Dec 05, 2021 11:02 pm

Thank you all very much for your detalied replies!

Tony is very good at imagining intricate contexts. I love 'the bedroom will feel chilly' but have no idea what a cognitor is.

Respcectfully,
Navi
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Re: my and my wife's

Post by tony h » Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:31 pm

navi wrote: Sun Dec 05, 2021 11:02 pm Tony is very good at imagining intricate contexts. I love 'the bedroom will feel chilly' but have no idea what a cognitor is.
Thank you for your comment. Having a mind that is able to see the nuances and imprecision has paid me well. A cognitor is a person you authorise to act "as you" on your behalf. It is very much the same at the English version of an Attorney (an American Attorney is rather different). The most common use of attorney , these days in the UK, is to write a contract called a Power of Attorney which appoints someone as your Attorney to conduct your affairs in the case of various states of incapacity. The power of attorney document sets out the extent and limits of the attorney's powers. Powers may include: payment of bills, property management, investment management, completion of contracts, medical decisions. I used cognitor, which is a rare word, to stress two features. First ; the person's application of knowledge of my requirements. Second; that the role did not have legal force.
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Re: my and my wife's

Post by navi » Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:02 am

Thank you very much, for this detailed explanation,

I really appreciate it, I will remember that word and it will always be associated with you in my mind,

Resepctfully,
Navi
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