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“Someone else’s” — Meaning & Grammar

“Someone else’s”  — Meaning & Grammar

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Describing the idea of possession in English is quite a piece of work because there are several known ways to do so.

One of these ways includes the process of adding ‘s to the noun or pronoun concerned, such as in the phrase “someone else’s.”

Luckily, we’ll specifically look into the grammatical details of this expression to understand what is really going on.

Let’s begin by taking a brief look at the meaning of “someone else’s.”


What is the meaning of “someone else’s”?

“Someone else’s” is a compound, indefinite, possessive pronoun that means “an unspecified person who owns something.” It is often used with a noun, such as in “someone else’s wife.” It can also be used as it is, just like in “That’s not his car. That’s someone else’s.”


“Someone else’s” meaning in more detail

The word “someone” is a pronoun that is used to refer to someone that the speaker or writer does not want to specify.

That said, it can be understood as a more practical way of saying “that person” or “a person I do not necessarily know the name of.”

At other times, “someone” may also be used to refer to an authority figure in an emphatic way, just like when we say “She wants to be someone or somebody.”

The example above also suggests the meaning of “to feel important” or “to be recognized by people,” and hence, a double-edged sword.

Meanwhile, “else” is a word that is often used to mean “besides,” “instead,” or “different.” At other times, it is also used as a shorter form of the expression “or else.”

Despite all these different senses in mind, “someone else’s” is used to mean something slightly more complex than just “that person” and “besides.”

“Someone else’s” further contains two other meaningful elements, which are called morphemes in language studies.

These elements include the apostrophe and the letter “s” after it in the word “else.” In the English language system, both are used to convey the idea of possession.

This implies that the phrase “someone else’s” is used to mean “an unspecified person who owns something.”

Take a look at this example sentence to see how it can be used:


This isn’t my bag. It’s someone else’s.


As you may figure, using “someone else’s” is great for making language use more convenient. Using it allows us to express a possessive idea minus the repetition.

“Two weeks’ notice” and “at wit’s end” are also two other common phrases that express the idea of possession in English.

As these two expressions are quite tricky, a lot of people are meanwhile confused about how they really work in the actual world.

Having that in mind, it is expected that people may also get baffled by how exactly “someone else’s” is formed, how it is used, and what it means.

Now that we already know the meaning behind “someone else’s,” why don’t we get deeper into the grammatical rules and concepts that govern its usage?


The grammar behind “someone else’s”

“Someone” is an indefinite pronoun used for an unspecified person. It is singular in number, and it can be used to refer to any gender.

Indefinite pronouns are used to generally refer to people, things, events, places, time, and manner. They can also either be singular or plural in grammatical number or even both.

Some examples of singular indefinite pronouns include “something,” “somewhere,” “sometime,” and “somehow.”

“Both,” “many,” “others,” “several,” and “few” are some examples of plural indefinite pronouns, while “none,” “some,” “most,” and “all” can be used either in singular or plural form.

Indefinite pronouns are great for expressing the ontology or existence of an entity. In English, these kinds of pronouns are mostly headed with “some-,” “any-,” or “no-”.


Somebody is at the door.
I can eat anything.
Nothing beats the classics.


Meanwhile, “else’s” is the possessive form of the adverb “else.” When we say “possessive,” it means that something belongs to that person or thing.

“Else” is often used to refer to another person, place, or thing. It is usually paired with indefinite pronouns like “someone or somebody,” “somewhere,” and “something.”

The phrase “someone else’s” takes quite a complex grammatical form. That said, it is what we can refer to as a “compound, indefinite, possessive pronoun.”

“Someone else’s” is a compounded phrase because it is made up of two different words merged into one to create a new meaning.

“Someone” is an indefinite pronoun used to refer to a person that we don’t want or don’t have the ability to specify. It is also a more formal alternative for “somebody.”

The idea of possession in “someone else’s” is marked by the use of the apostrophe as well as the addition of the letter “s” after it.

Here’s another example of how to use “someone else’s” in a sentence for your reference:


You shouldn’t claim someone else’s idea as yours.


If we try to further break down the use of “someone else’s” in the example above, we can understand that it is simply used to mean “the idea of someone else.”

What’s interesting is that using the contracted or shortened possessive form allows us to make our sentence shorter and even more casual or natural-sounding.


How to use “someone else’s” in a sentence

There are two common ways of using “someone else’s” in a sentence. Both ways are done to make language use more convenient and natural.

The first one can be done by adding a noun after the phrase. The second can be done by making use of it as an elliptical tool to avoid redundancy.

To use “someone else’s” together with a noun, the noun word or phrase must come after it. Here’s an example of what is meant by this explanation:


Barbara is secretly dating someone else’s husband.


In the example above, we can see that “someone else’s” is used to refer to the noun that comes after it which is “husband.”

In formal writing scenarios, we normally avoid using contractions. So, an alternative way of expressing the same idea above is “the husband of someone else.”

Note that the apostrophe and the letter “s” is already dropped when we make us of the more formal version. This is at least how the English language works.

To use “someone else’s” as an elliptical tool, which simply means “word omission,” we can drop the noun that it usually modifies afterward.

In language studies, ellipses are great for creating emphasis as well as building tension about an idea or event.

Take a look at the next example for a better understanding:


Build your own dreams. Not someone else’s.


In the example above, we can see that “someone else’s” is discreetly referring to the word “dreams” in the previous sentence.

By using ellipsis through omitting the word “dreams,” readers and listeners are prompted to think more deeply and reflect on what is being implied rather than what is said or written.

Hence, using “someone else’s” in the manner described above does not only allow us to save white space; it also allows us to make an idea more meaningful and creative.


Someone else vs. Someone else’s

Another confusion about today’s topic lies in “someone else’s” difference from “someone else.” Hence, this concern is also worth-discussing.

We can compare and contrast “someone else” and “someone else’s” by taking a look both at their meaning and grammatical form.

In terms of meaning, “someone else” is simply used to suggest the phrase “another person” or “another individual” without referencing the gender.


Q: Is that Joseph?
R: No. I think that’s someone else.


On the other hand, “someone else’s” is used to mean “another person who owns something.” That said, “someone else’s” bears richer meaning than “someone else.”


Q: Is that Joseph’s car?
R: No. I think that’s someone else’s.


In terms of form, we can clearly see that the difference between “someone else” and “someone else’s” lies in the addition of the apostrophe and the letter “s” in the latter.

The apostrophe and “s” is simply what sets the possessive meaning of “someone else’s” from “someone else.”

In a nutshell, if “someone else” is used to mean “another person,” the apostrophe and “s” is used to mean “who owns something.”


Frequently Asked Questions on “The Meaning and Grammar of Someone Else’s”


Is “anyone else’s” correct?

“Anyone else’s” is grammatically correct. It is used to mean “any other person’s possession or belonging” or “the belonging or possession of another person.”


Should it be “somebody’s else” or “somebody else’s”?

The correct way to construct the possessive form of “somebody else” is “somebody else’s.” This is because “somebody else’s” is treated as a compound, indefinite, possessive pronoun whose meaning is merged into one.


What is a synonym for “someone else’s”?

“Somebody else’s” is the closest synonym of “someone else’s.” Another more formal synonym is “a different person’s property” or “another person’s property.”



Like any other language out there, English has its own set of rules on how to convey certain ideas such as possession or ownership.

That said, learning the nitty-gritty of how possessive phrases like “someone else’s” work is key to a richer and more meaningful expression of thought.