Possessive Adjectives and Possessive Pronouns

Possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns are both used to show possession. They look similar but are used differently. The chart below shows possessive pronouns and adjectives and when to use them:

Person Pronoun Adjective
1st singular mine my
2nd singular and plural yours your
3rd (female) hers her
3rd (male) his his
3rd (neutral) its its
1st plural ours our
3rd plural theirs their

 Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are used to show possession, but they do not come before nouns. Instead, they stand on their own, and can even be used instead of a noun. For example:

  • The night is ours.
  • The house on the left is mine.
  • Q: Whose car is that? A: Hers.

We might also show ownership by using the word “of” with a possessive pronoun. For example:

  • This book is a personal favorite of mine.
  • Was she a friend of yours?

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives are used to show possession in much the same way as possessive nouns. They also come before the noun that they own. For example:

  • That is her dog.
  • Those are my books.
  • Mexico is their homeland.
  • The dog buried its bone.
  • This is our house.

Be careful!

We do not use apostrophes with possessive adjectives or possessive pronouns. People commonly mistake contractions for these possessives. For example:

Contraction: It’s going to be tough to chew that bone. (It + is = it’s)

Possessive adjective: Its bone should be in the back yard. (no apostrophe ‘ after it)

Possessive pronoun: That bone was one of its favorites.  (no apostrophe ‘ after it)

 

Note that the words “its” can be a pronoun or an adjective. We need to pay attention to the context to know which one it is. In the above examples, the possessive adjective comes immediately before the noun (bone), whereas the possessive pronoun comes after the noun (bone) and stands in for the owner (a dog).

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