Possessives for intermediate learners

Possessives are used to indicate possessions. In this lesson, we will discuss the different types of possessives, including nouns, determiners, and pronouns.

Possessives in the English Grammar

What Are Possessives?

When we want to talk about possession or different relationships between people and items, we use possessives. They can be nouns or pronouns.

Possessive Nouns

When we want to show a relation of possession between two nouns, we can simply add the possessive ('s) to the first noun. Take a look at the following examples:

I'm at my cousin's place.

Molly is talking to that stranger's pet.


Please note that when we have a regular plural noun, we must not add an 's to form the possessive. We simply add an apostrophe after the noun. Check out the following examples:

We're going to her parents' house.

As you can see, parents is a plural noun.

The kids' school has been permanently closed.

Possessive Pronouns

In order to avoid repetition or to show the belongings of a noun, we mainly use possessive pronouns. The following table shows all possessive pronouns in English:

Possessive Pronouns
First Person Singular Mine
Second Person Singular Yours
Third Person Singular (Male) His
Third Person Singular (Female) Hers
First Person Plural Ours
Third Person Plural Theirs

Now, let us examine some examples below:

Is this bag hers?

Your car is nothing compared to ours.


Please note that these pronouns are never followed by nouns or noun phrases.

Possessives: Questions

When we want to ask questions about possession, we can use 'whose'. Take a look at the following examples:

Whose book are you taking?

Whose is that?


Please note that 'whose' can be followed by a noun or it can be used alone.


We can use possessives in many contexts, such as:

  • To Show Belonging and Possession
  • To Show Relationship Between People
  • To Refer to Different Locations

Now, let us see some examples for each:

This is John's bag.

Here, it shows possession.

Sicily's sister is walking on my nerves.

Here, it is showing a relationship between two people.

I'm going to Melvin's.

Here, it refers to a location, a house, a café, etc.


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