Grammar Possessive Pronouns |
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Possessive Pronouns

English includes several types of pronouns, such as personal, demonstrative, interrogative, relative, indefinite, reflexive, and intensive pronouns. In this review, we’ll examine what possessive pronouns are.

What Are Possessive Pronouns?

A possessive pronoun is a pronoun that indicates or identifies ownership. It can be either an adjective or a stand-in for an antecedent, the noun to which it refers.

Possessive Pronoun: Adjective Possessive Pronoun: Stand-In Noun
my her mine hers
your our yours ours
his their his theirs

What Are Possessive Pronouns: Adjectives

A possessive pronoun acting as an adjective precedes the noun it modifies to identify ownership.

Examples
That is my shirt.

Have you seen her new shoes?

Let’s make our way back to the cabin before sunset.

In sentences that include proper names as antecedents, possessive pronouns serving as adjectives allow for more-efficient expression by not requiring us to repeat the name.

Example
Repetitive: Thomas enjoys Thomas’s new guitar.

Efficient with pronoun: Thomas enjoys his new guitar.

Example
Repetitive: The Chinns are moving into the Chinns’ new home today.

Efficient: The Chinns are moving into their new home today.

What Are Possessive Pronouns: Stand-in Nouns

A possessive pronoun acting as a stand-in for another noun (its antecedent) is known as an independent possessive pronoun or an absolute possessive pronoun. It does not precede a noun, and in describing possession of something, it does not have an apostrophe.

Example
Correct: That Corvette over there is mine. (Mine represents its antecedent, Corvette.)

Incorrect: That is mine Corvette. (The possessive pronoun should not precede the noun it refers to.)

Example
Correct: Next week, that brand-new house will be theirs. (Theirs represents its antecedent, house.)

Incorrect: Next week, that brand-new house will be theirs’. (The possessive pronoun should not take an apostrophe.)

As shown in the examples, independent (or absolute) possessive pronouns often appear at the end of sentences.

A possessive pronoun standing in for another noun can be plural as well. Once again, it would not precede a noun, and it would not have an apostrophe.

Examples
Their parents live in Texas; ours live in New Hampshire. (Antecedent is parents.)

Your bowling balls are black and theirs are red. (Antecedent is bowling balls.)

Possessive Pronouns: Its

You will also often see another possessive pronoun acting as an adjective: its. The possessive pronoun its describes ownership by a non-person, such as an object or animal.

Examples
You can’t always judge a book by its cover. (Antecedent is book.)

It can take one to two weeks for a snake to shed its skin. (Antecedent is snake.)

To this day, a common mistake with the possessive pronoun its still pervades: the use of an apostrophe to convey possession, as in its’ or it’s. If you ever find yourself about to make this grammatical error, simply remember that personal pronouns never take an apostrophe.

Example
Correct: You can’t always judge a book by its cover.

Incorrect: You can’t always judge a book by its’ cover.

Related Topics

Pronouns
Expressing Possession of Gerunds
Its vs. It’s

Pop Quiz

Now that you know what possessive pronouns are, choose the correct one in each of the following sentences.

1. A peacock loves to show [its / it’s] feathers.

2. Which guitar should we bring tonight: [your / yours] or Stephan’s?

3. Bob and Linda said they forgot [their / they’re] checkbook at home.

4. Someday that Jet Ski will be [mine / mine’s].

5. Did you notice how much Clem looked like Elvis when he swiveled [his’ / his] hips?

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. A peacock loves to show its feathers.

2. Which guitar should we bring tonight: yours or Stephan’s?

3. Bob and Linda said they forgot their checkbook at home.

4. Someday that Jet Ski will be mine.

5. Did you notice how much Clem looked like Elvis when he swiveled his hips?

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