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Is it correct to say that possessive adjective could never be used predicatively? That is, it could only be used attributively as complement of a head noun?

I ask this because I could not find any instance of its predicative use. Following example is from p. 56 of Dodd et al., Modern German Grammar, 2nd Ed., Routledge:

Ist das dein Wagen? Ja, das ist meiner. (1)

If a possessive adjective could indeed be used predicatively here, I expected the form mein as predicative adjectives take no ending and are invariable (as in sein Auto ist rot):

Ist das dein Wagen? Ja, das ist mein. (2)

But I guess it is not a correct grammatical form and (1) should be used instead. In other words, only possessive pronouns and not possessive adjectives could be used predicatively. Am I correct?

My last question is that how (1) is compared with this English sentence?

Is that your car? Yes, that is mine. (3)

Mine in (3) is an adjective or a pronoun? Mine in the following sentence is a possessive pronoun:

Which of these is yours? Mine is blue. (4)

But what about mine in (3) and in the following sentence:

That book is mine. (5)

It seems so much similar to an adjective. From a functional viewpoint I can hardly distinguish this mine from my in that is my book. Both are describing book here, I think.

Thank you very much.

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  • I just learned that this question was closely related to my first question regarding the predicative use of possessive adjective: german.stackexchange.com/questions/11753/… May 13 at 19:12
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    I think part of the problem here is terminology. I know some grammar books use "possessive adjective", but to me it's misleading because they are different than adjectives. They are not declined like adjectives for one thing. I prefer "possessive determiner" since they are declined like "ein" and they displace any other determiner; you don't say "ein mein Buch" but with an adjective you say "ein großes Buch".
    – RDBury
    May 13 at 19:59
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    They're not adjectives, they're pronouns. And the attributive and the predicative use employ two different (although closely related) pronoun paradigms, as you can see from the fact that 'mein' and 'meiner' have systematically different forms even though they are both nom/sg/masc pronouns. May 14 at 7:23

1 Answer 1

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Yes, possessive pronouns can be used predicatively.

Der ist mein.
Der ist von mir.
Das ist meiner.

all mean approximately the same. Using the possessive pronoun like this sounds a bit old-fashioned, but it is the only way if the noun is not a thing, as in

Ich bin dein und du bist mein.
Mainz ist mein.

They can be replaced with gehören, though. Your sentence

Ist das dein Wagen? Ja, das ist mein. (2)

is wrong for another reason. Wagen ist masculine, so it has to be referenced with der:

Ist das dein Wagen? Ja, der ist mein.

In the case of "meiner", you are equating with a noun-like, so sentence (1) is correct using "das".

Regarding terminology

Grammar terminology is arbitrary, but I concur with the comment that "possessive adjective" is not a good term, because words like "mein" cannot be used with articles. They are so different from adjectives as nouns are from pronouns, so "possessive determiner" is a better term. The question if something is an adjective or not is not important, you may answer it however you like, as long as it helps you to remember how to use this word.

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  • Hello to you, thank you very much for your illuminating response. yesterday

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