Possessive Nouns for intermediate learners

Possessive structures have many functions like showing ownership or belonging. With the help of apostrophe 's', we can make a possessive noun. Let's start!

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"Possessive Nouns" in English Grammar

What Are Possessive Nouns?

In English, when we want to show possession or that something or someone belongs to us or somebody else, we use possessive nouns.

Structure

We can simply add a ('s) which is an apostrophe + s to the end of the possessor. Look at the following examples:

My daughter's class starts at 9 o'clock.

The bird's feathers have different colors.

Tip!

When you want to show possession of a singular noun ending in 's', you can use different writing styles. As it is shown in the following examples, both are correct:

My boss's car is neon green.

As you can see, the sentence is referring to one person.

My boss' car is neon green.

Here, the meaning is the same as the previous example but the writing style is different.

Plural Nouns

We can use the structure of possessive nouns with both regular and irregular nouns. However, when the nouns are countable regular ones, we use an apostrophe (') at the end of the noun for showing possession. Take a look at the following examples:

The books' covers are torn.

Here, the sentence is about a number of books and only an apostrophe is used at the end of the noun.

The trees' orange leaves are falling.

When we use irregular or unchanging plural nouns, we simply add a ('s) to change them to possessive nouns. Pay attention to the following examples:

In shopping malls, women's clothing is separate from men's clothing.

The sheep's eyes are begging you to stop.

Uses

Possessive nouns are used in many different contexts in the English language. Let us examine some of its common uses below:

  • To Show Relationships
  • To Show Possession and Belonging
  • To Avoid Repetition

To Show Relationships

When we want to show the relations between different people, we mainly use possessive nouns. Take a look at the following examples:

Mathew's sister is so selfish.

As you can see, the possessive noun is used to show how two people are connected to each other.

Carlos's father yelled at him in front of everyone.

To Show Possession and Belonging

Normally, when we want to show something or someone belongs to us or something else, we use possessive nouns. Take a look at the statements below:

The turtle's leg is broken.

The phone's plastic bag has been removed.

To Avoid Repetition

Sometimes, possessive nouns are used to avoid repeating something that has been mentioned in the statement before. Pay attention to the following example:

A : Is this Anna's bag?

B : No, it's Sheila's.

(Please note that it is also correct to write the complete sentence.)

Tip!

It is useful to know that we can use possessive nouns in order to point out places and locations. Look at the following examples:

He's going to John's this weekend.

Here, the sentence is about a person who is going to go to John's house.

Weren't you at the Barney's?

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