Possessive Forms*

Possessive Forms

April 4, 2019

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

Possessive Adjectives Are Technically Possessive Pronouns.:

Possession means that something belongs to someone. Possessive forms show ownership in the English language.

In many other languages, possession is shown by using the word “of.”

Possessive nouns

We use a singular noun with ‘s to show possession:

e.g.

  • Dhea drove her sister’s car.
  • We are having a party at John’s house.

We use s’ with a plural noun ending in -s:

e.g.

  • This is my parents’ house.
  • Those are ladies’ shoes.

Possessive adjectives

Use a possessive adjective to show ownership. It comes before a noun in the sentence and lets us know to whom the noun belongs.

e.g.

  • I am looking after her children (her: possessive adjective – children: – noun).

Possessive adjectives:

myyourhisher
itsourtheirwhose

While many cases of ownership are shown with possessive nouns (Karen’s, children’s), these possessive adjectives are not nouns and are not formed by adding an apostrophe + s.

(Subject: I, Object: me, possessive adjective: my).

To show something belongs to somebody:

e.g.

  • That’s our house.
  • My computer is very old.

For relations and friends:

  • My mother is a doctor.
  • How old is your sister?

For parts of the body:

  • He’s broken his arm.
  • She’s washing her hair.
  • I need to clean my teeth.

Note:

Possessive Adjectives Are Technically Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are used to replace the noun. Possessive adjectives are used to describe the noun.

e.g.

  • This is Irina’s phone.
  • This is her phone.

In this example, the possessive adjective “her” replaces Irina. It can be classified as a pronoun as well as an adjective.


Possessive adjectives

Subject pronounPossessive adjectivee.g.
ImyI like my new Kindle Fire.
youyourYou can leave your shoes on.
hehisHe cuts his own hair.
sheherShe dances to the best of her ability.
ititsIt will show its claws.
weourWe make our own decisions.
theytheirThey washed their hands.
whowhoseWhose book is this?

Possessive adjectives vs. Possessive pronouns

Possessive Forms
Personal pronounPossessive adjectivePossessive pronoun
Imymine
youyouryours
hehishis
sheherhers
itits* Not used*
weourours
theytheirtheirs
whowhosewhose

Possessive adjectives

e.g.

  • My book is on the table.
  • I think you forgot your charger.
  • The dog buried its toy.

Possessive pronouns

e.g.

  • The phone that is ringing is yours. – (Yours is ringing.)
  • The tablet with the purple case is mine. – (Mine is the tablet with the purple case.)

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns are not followed immediately by a noun; they can stand alone.

(Subject: I, Object: me, Possessive adjective: my, Possessive pronoun: mine).

yoursminetheirsourshershisits
SubjectObjectPossessive adjectivesPossessive pronouns
Imemymine
Youyouyouryours
Hehimhishis
Sheherherhers
Itititsits
Weusourours
Theythemtheirtheirs

We can use a possessive pronoun instead of a noun phrase:

e.g.

  • Is that Sarah’s car? No it’s mine.
  • Her phone is blue, mine is silver.

We can use possessive pronouns after of.

e.g.

  • Nandi is one of my friends.
  • I am one of Sarah’s friends.

Possessive questions

We use “whose” to ask questions.There are two types.

Type One

e.g.

  • Whose phone is this?
  • Whose book is that?
  • Whose bags are those?

Type Two

e.g.

  • Whose is this phone?
  • Whose is this book?
  • Whose are those bags?