What is the Possessive?

How do I use the possessive?

We use possessives to show ownership of a noun (person, place, or thing) by another noun. One common way we show possession is by adding an apostrophe and an “s” to the end of a noun. We also use possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives, which will be covered in another unit.


How do I make the Possessive with ‘s?

Possessive nouns are formed by adding an apostrophe () and an s to a singular noun (including those that already end in “s”) and plural nouns that do not end in s. The possessive noun comes before the noun that it owns. For example:

  • That is Kelly’s bike.
  • Those are my stepmom’s children.
  • Cuba is Juan’s homeland.
  • It was a beautiful summer’s day.
  • That is Carlos’s book.
  • Bleak House is one of Charles Dickens’s greatest novels.

However, for a plural noun that ends in s, we add only an apostrophe (‘). For example:

  • Those are the dogs’ toys.
  • He endured many winters’ nights.

The only time we use an apostrophe to show possession is with possessive nouns. We do not use apostrophes with possessive pronouns, or possessive adjectives. Also, don’t confuse a contraction with a possessive. For example:

Contraction: Steve’s coming the store tonight. (Steve + is = Steve’s)

Possessive noun: Steve’s dad is coming to the store tonight.