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Possessive Adjective: All You Need to Know about Possessive Adjectives


What are possessive adjectives? There are a variety of different types of adjectives within the English language, and it may seem confusing. But it doesn’t need to be. In this article, we are going to be looking at the possessive adjective and how it can be used in a sentence. We are also going to be looking at some examples of possessive adjectives to further gain an understanding of their function.

What Is A Possessive Adjective?

In the most simple terms, a possessive adjective is an adjective that shows possession. This type of adjective is always used before a noun as a way of showing what or who owns it.

The most common examples of possessive adjectives are as follows:

  • my
  • your
  • his
  • her
  • their
  • its
  • our
  • whose

Let’s take a look at some of these being used in a sentence.

  • This is my ball.
  • Her house is larger than your house.
  • Will you be going to his birthday party?
  • Have you seen our new website?

You can see in the above examples, that the possessive adjectives show who each noun belongs to.

List of Subject Pronouns and their Possessive Adjectives

Each of the possessive adjectives corresponds to to its own personal pronoun, as follows:

  • I-my
  • You-you
  • He-his
  • She-her
  • They-their
  • It-its
  • We-our
  • Who-whose

It may come as a surprise to learn that the possessive adjectives can also function as a pronoun, this is because they are able to replace a pronoun in a sentence and still carry the same meaning, let’s take a look at an example of this.

  • Is this Sally’s jacket?
  • No, it’s her coat.

You can see that the pronoun Sally has been replaced with the possessive adjective her which can also serve as a pronoun.

Possessive Adjective Examples

  • It is my pen.
  • Your house is really beautiful.
  • Her temper hasn’t improved with age!
  • Never judge something by its looks.
  • This is our website.
  • Their living room is equipped with all kinds of modern appliances.

Rules Of Possessive Adjectives

As with any area of grammar within the English language, there are certain rules which must be followed when using the possessive adjective. However, these are easy to understand and we are now going to look at these in a little more detail.

Use Of Apostrophes

It is a common mistake to use an apostrophe with the possessive adjective ‘its’ when it is not required. We use an apostrophe with the word its when it is being shortened from it has or it is, since a possessive adjective does not fall into the category, it NEVER needs an apostrophe.

Your vs You’re

Similarly to the above , many people confuse the use of your and you’re. When using a possessive adjective, you should always use ‘your.’ The word ‘you’re’ is a shortened form of ‘you are’ and is not appropriate for use as a possessive adjective.

Their, they’re and there

One of the most common gripes of English grammar and spelling enthusiasts is the confusion between the three forms of the sound ‘their, they’re and there ‘ When using this as a possessive adjective, you should always use the spelling ‘their’ as the two others mean completely different thing. (There refers to location and they’re is a shortened version of they are.)

Whose vs Who’s

Finally, people might often mistake the possessive adjective whose for the word who’s, however this is not the correct spelling and is a shortened form of ‘who is.’

Use of his, her and its

When talking about people in general in English, there is not a gender specific word, however there is the possessive adjective ‘its’ which is commonly used when ‘their’ should be used. Let’s take a look at an example.

  • Each parent is in charge of his or her own child.

Whilst this sentence is correct, it is somewhat wordy and so many people might use its instead. But this is not correct.

  • Each parent is responsible for its own child.

The following sentence is what should be used.

  • Each parent is in charge of their own child.

Difference between Subject Pronoun and Possessive Adjective

  • Subject pronouns are Iyouhesheitwethey. Subject pronouns usually occur before a verb.

For example:

He is an English teacher.

They want to learn Chinese.

  • Possessive adjectives are myyour, hisheritsourtheir. Possessive adjectives occur before a noun (her hair) or a an adjective + noun (her new hair).
  • Possessive adjectives have no singular or plural. They are used with both singular and plural nouns (his ballhis balls).
  • Subject pronouns + verb
  • Possessive adjectives + (adjectives) + noun

The possessive adjective is used to show who is the owner of the noun. There are quite a few rules and common mistakes which are made when using possessive adjectives, but these can be avoided by taking the time to learn the rules and create grammatically correct sentences.

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