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!

"Possessive Nouns" in English Grammar

What Are Possessive Nouns?

In English, we use possessive nouns to indicate possession or ownership of something or someone by us or another person.


To form a possessive noun, we can add ('s), which is an apostrophe and the letter 's', to the end of the noun indicating the possessor.

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

The bird's feathers have different colors.


When indicating possession of a singular noun ending in 's', there are different writing styles that can be used. As 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

Possessive nouns can be formed using both regular and irregular nouns. However, for countable regular nouns, we typically add an apostrophe (') at the end of the noun to indicate possession.

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 using irregular or unchanging plural nouns, we can form possessive nouns by adding ('s) at the end of the noun.

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

The sheep's eyes are begging you to stop.


Possessive nouns have a wide range of uses in the English language. Let us examine some of their uses:

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

To Show Relationship

Possessive nouns are commonly used to indicate relations between people. 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

Generally, possessive nouns are used to indicate ownership or belonging of something or someone. Take a look at the statements below:

The turtle's leg is broken.

The phone's plastic bag has been removed.

To Avoid Repetition

At times, possessive nouns are used to avoid repetition of something that has already been mentioned in a statement. 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.)


Knowing how to use possessive nouns can be helpful in indicating places and locations.

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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