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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


POSSESSIVES

Formation and use of the possessive in English.



POSSESSIVE FORM

The possessive form is used to indicate ownership.
Possessives in English are formed according to a set of rules. Here is a brief summary:

Rule Example
Singular Nouns :
(even if the meaning is plural
or if there are several words.)
Add 's after the possessor. - Tom's car
- The cat's tail.
- The children's toys
- The Queen of England's jewels
Plural Nouns Add 's after the plural 's'. - My parents' car.
- The students' rooms.
- My grandparents' house
Names/nouns ending in 's' Add 's after the last 's'. - Denis's wife
- Gladys's job
- The boss's office.
Double Possessive Add 's after the possessor's name,
or use a possessive pronoun.
- A friend of my father's
(one of his friends, not the only one)
- A friend of Julie's
- A friend of
mine/his/hers/ours/yours/theirs.
Shops and people's homes Often take the possessive. - At the hairdresser's
- At the dentist's
- At the Brown's

N.B.
The apostrophe followed by s ('s) (ex:Tom's), to denote possession, is used for living things.

  • living things (humans and animals) :
    • John's car, the cat's milk, the dog's tail (not the car's door)
  • groups and institutions :
    • The government's proposal, the company's policy.
  • BUT :
    • the door of the car
    • the leg of the table.
    • the roof of the house.



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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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