Possession: Adjectives, Pronouns, Apostrophe + s

Possession tells us who owns what. To show possession, we can use:

– possessive determiners (adjectives),
possessive pronouns,
apostrophe + s.

Possessive adjectives

Possessive adjectives function as determiners in front of a noun to describe who something belongs to. They are always used before a noun or a noun phrase:

  • This is my brother. His name is Alex.
  • This is my book.
  • That’s your problem.
  • Cindy is visiting her mother.
  • Tom is cleaning his room.

The structure is:

[possessive adjective + noun phrase]

  • Is Gloria your younger sister?
  • Cleaning these tables is his job.

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns refer to possession and ‘belonging’, too. But possessive adjectives are used before a noun, while possessive pronouns are used in place of a noun.

While possessive adjectives are used to describe the noun, possessive pronouns are used to replace the noun. They refer back to a noun or noun phrase already used, replacing it to avoid repetition:

  • Those are my Converse sneakers. They are not yours.
  • Your travel plans sound just as exciting as mine!

We use possessive pronouns after a verb.

The structure is:

[verb + possessive pronoun]

  • This is my pencil → This pencil is mine.
  • That is her dress → That dress is hers.
  • These are our coats → These coats are ours.

Possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns have different forms:

Apostrophe + s

We can add apostrophe + s to a noun to show possession. We put the other noun after:

  • Nick’s house looks clean.
  • Selena’s books are on the floor.
  • It’s nobody’s fault.

To show possession, we can add ‘s to common and proper nouns (names), singular and plural nouns:

  • The boy’s sister traveled by bus to meet us.
  • Sally’s hair was blond and curly.
  • Someone’s car is parked in the loading zone.
  • The children’s play received a standing ovation.
  • The two sisters’ house is next to mine.

Here’s a good video from GoEnglish explaining the difference between possessive adjectives and pronouns:

See also:

Nouns: Possession with ‘s

Possessive Pronouns

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