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Aug 26, 2018

The reason why it is wrong to say: "This your child is cute."

Some days ago, I posted on my Facebook wall that it is wrong to say "This your child is cute." without giving any reason to back up my claim. In this article, I will be validating such claim with a reason. In English language, it is an error when a demonstrative adjective and a possessive adjective/determiner are used at the same time to modify a particular noun. To understand this, it is important to explain, with examples, the meanings of possessive adjective/determiner and demonstrative adjective.
The reason why it is wrong to say "This your child is cute"

A possessive adjective/determiner is used to show ownership. Examples of possessive adjectives/determiners are: my, your, their our, his, their, her, its. As an adjective, it precedes (or comes before) a noun in a sentence.
Examples
1. Your phone is nice.
2. My pen is missing.
3. Their properties have been seized.

In the examples above, you can see the adjectives (in bold) coming before the nouns (phone, pen and properties).

Unlike possessive adjectives, demonstrative adjectives are used to show whether the noun it modifies is singular or plural and whether the position of the noun is near or far from the person who is speaking. Examples of demonstrative adjectives are: thisthatthese and those. "This" and "that" are used to modify singular nouns which are near and far from the speaker respectively whereas "these" and "those" are used to modify plural nouns which are near and far from the speaker respectively.
Examples
1. This/That phone is nice.
2. These/Those phones are nice.

As earlier stated, it is wrong to use a demonstrative adjective and a possessive adjective at the same time to modify a particular noun in a sentence. Therefore, expressions such as the ones below would be considered as wrong usages:
1. This your child is cute.
2. That her bag is fine.
3. These their watches are expensive.

To correct these expressions, one can use only the possessive adjective/determiner to show ownership, or the demonstrative adjective to point at a particular noun, or use the "of phrase" option to lay emphasis. In example one, the sentence could read: “Your/This child is cute.” However, if there is the need to lay emphasis, you would write: “This child of yours is cute." In this sense, "of yours" is the "of phrase".

Having said that, let's correct the other expressions:
1. That bag is fine. (Demonstrative adjective).

2. That bag of hers is fine. (The "of phrase").

3. Her bag is fine. (Possessive adjective).

4. These watches her expensive. (Demonstrative adjective).

5. These watches of theirs are expensive. (The "of phrase"). 

6. Their watches are expensive. (Possessive adjective).

In a nutshell, never use a possessive adjective and a demonstrative adjective at the same time to modify a particular noun in a sentence.

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