Double possessives

Sometimes, it seems like you double up in indicating who or what is owned by something else. Compare these two sentences:

The boy was scared by the memories of his grandfather’s.

The boy was scared by the memories of his grandfather.

The first sentence is talking about the memories that his grandfather has of something, which the grandfather is probably telling the boy about. The memories are owned by the grandfather.

In the second sentence, the memories are not owned by the grandfather. They are someone else’s memories of the grandfather. Perhaps the boy is being told some scary things about what other people remember about his grandfather.

The first sentence is an example of a double possessive construction. It has two ownership parts stacked on top of each other. The ‘of’ part indicates one ownership, and “grandfather’s” indicates another ownership – there’s double possession.

In the second sentence, the phrase ‘of his grandfather’ is an adjectival phrase that tells us more information about the noun ‘memories’.

  • Handy Hint – Mixing up it’s and its
  • It’s and its have two different meanings.
  • It’s

Usually when you have an apostrophe followed by an ‘s’, it means that the word is a possessive word and it owns something. Not so with this word, however. When you see it’s, it is actually a shortening of the words ‘it is’:

Double Possessives

‘Its’, on the other hand, is the possessive form of the word ‘it’. ‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun. So use this form when you’re talking about what ‘it’ owns:

I am surprised at its size.

This is the end of the chapter. Click here to return to the main topic list

Possessive Forms

Skip to Plural Noun Forms.

Showing possession in English is a relatively easy matter (believe it or not). By adding an apostrophe and an s we can manage to transform most singular nouns into their possessive form:

  • the car's front seat
  • Charles's car
  • Bartkowski's book
  • a hard day's work

Some writers will say that the -s after Charles' is not necessary and that adding only the apostrophe (Charles' car) will suffice to show possession.

Consistency is the key here: if you choose not to add the -s after a noun that already ends in s, do so consistently throughout your text. William Strunk's Elements of Style recommends adding the 's.

(In fact, oddly enough, it's Rule Number One in Strunk's “Elementary Rules of Usage.

) You will find that some nouns, especially proper nouns, especially when there are other -s and -z sounds involved, turn into clumsy beasts when you add another s: “That's old Mrs. Chambers's estate.” In that case, you're better off with “Mrs. Chambers' estate.”

There is another way around this problem of klunky possessives: using the “of phrase” to show possession. For instance, we would probably say the “constitution of Illinois,” as opposed to “Illinois' (or Illinois's ??) constitution.”

To answer that question about Illinois, you should know that most words that end in an unpronounced “s” form their possessive by adding an apostrophe + s. So we would write about “Illinois's next governor” and “Arkansas's former governor” and “the Marine Corps's policy.

” However, many non-English words that end with a silent “s” or “x” will form their possessives with only an apostrophe. So we would write “Alexander Dumas' first novel” and “this bordeaux' bouquet.

” According to the New York Public Library's Guide to Style and Usage, there are “certain expressions that end in s or the s sound that traditionally require an apostrophe only: for appearance' sake, for conscience' sake, for goodness' sake” (268).

Incidentally, the NYPL Guide also suggests that when a word ends in a double s, we're better off writing its possessive with only an apostrophe: the boss' memo, the witness' statement.

Many writers insist, however, that we actually hear an “es” sound attached to the possessive forms of these words, so an apostrophe -s is appropriate: boss's memo, witness's statement. If the look of the three s's in a row doesn't bother you, use that construction.

When we want the possessive of a pluralized family name, we pluralize first and then simply make the name possessive with the use of an apostrophe.

Thus, we might travel in the Smiths' car when we visit the Joneses (members of the Jones family) at the Joneses' home.

When the last name ends in a hard “z” sound, we usually don't add an “s” or the “-es” and simply add the apostrophe: “the Chambers' new baby.”

Many writers consider it bad form to use apostrophe -s possessives with pieces of furniture and buildings or inanimate objects in general. Instead of “the desk's edge” (according to many authorities), we should write “the edge of the desk” and instead of “the hotel's windows” we should write “the windows of the hotel.” In fact, we would probably avoid the possessive altogether and use the noun as an attributive: “the hotel windows.” This rule (if, in fact, it is one) is no longer universally endorsed. We would not say “the radio of that car” instead of “that car's radio” (or the “car radio”) and we would not write “the desire of my heart” instead of “my heart's desire.” Writing “the edge of the ski” would probably be an improvement over “the ski's edge,” however. For expressions of time and measurement, the possessive is shown with an apostrophe -s: “one dollar's worth,” “two dollars' worth,” “a hard day's night,” “two years' experience,” “an evening's entertainment,” and “two weeks' notice” (the title of the Hollywood movie nothwithstanding).

Remember that personal pronouns create special problems in the formation of possessives. See the chart of Noun and Pronoun Cases.

Possessives & Gerunds

Possessive forms are frequently modifiers for verb forms used as nouns, or gerunds. Using the possessive will affect how we read the sentence.

For instance, “I'm worried about Joe running in the park after dark” means that I'm worried about Joe and the fact that he runs in the park after dark (the word “running” is a present participle modifying Joe).

On the other hand, “I'm worried about Joe's running in the park after dark” puts the emphasis on the running that Joe is doing (“running” is a gerund, and “Joe's” modifies that verbal).

Usually, almost always in fact, we use the possessive form of a noun or pronoun to modify a gerund. More is involved, however. Click HERE for further information about using the possessive form with gerunds.

Possessives versus Adjectival Labels

Don't confuse an adjectival label (sometimes called an “attributive noun”) ending in s with the need for a possessive. Sometimes it's not easy to tell which is which.

Do you attend a writers' conference or a writers conference? If it's a group of writers attending a conference, you want the plural ending, writers. If the conference actually belongs to the writers, then you'd want the possessive form, writers'.

If you can insert another modifer between the -s word and whatever it modifies, you're probably dealing with a possessive. Additional modifiers will also help determine which form to use.

  • Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe threw three touchdown passes. (plural as modifier)
  • The Patriots' [new] quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, threw three touchdown passes. (possessive as modifier]

Possessives of Plurals & Irregular Plurals

Most plural nouns already end in s. To create their possessive, simply add an apostrophe after the s:

  • The Pepins' house is the big blue one on the corner.
  • The lions' usual source of water has dried up.
  • The gases' odors mixed and became nauseating.
  • The witches' brooms were hidden in the corner.
  • The babies' beds were all in a row.

With nouns whose plurals are irregular (see Plurals), however, you will need to add an apostrophe followed by an s to create the possessive form.

  • She plans on opening a women's clothing boutique.
  • Children's programming is not a high priority.
  • The geese's food supply was endangered.

(But with words that do not change their form when pluralized, you will have to add an -s or -es.)

  • The seaweed was destroyed by the fishes' overfeeding.

Double Possessives

Holidays Showing Possession

A number of American Holidays have possessive forms, and are peculiarly inconsistent.

“Mother's Day” and “Father's Day” are easy enough, one parent at a time, and “Parents' Day” is nicely pluralized, as is “Presidents' Day” which celebrates the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln.

“All Souls' Day (Halloween),” of course, takes a plural possessive. “Veterans Day” is plural but not possessive, for historical reasons shrouded in mystery. Martin Luther King Jr. Day has no possessive. “New Year's Day,” “St. Valentine's Day,” St.

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Patrick's Day,” and “April Fool's Day” all have their singular prossessive form, and so, while we're at it, does “Season's Greetings.” Note that “Daylight Saving Time” is neither possessive nor plural.

Compound Possessives

When you are showing possession with compounded nouns, the apostrophe's placement depends on whether the nouns are acting separately or together.

  • Miguel's and Cecilia's new cars are in the parking lot. This means that each of them has at least one new car and that their ownership is a separate matter.
  • Miguel and Cecilia's new cars are in the parking lot. This construction tells us that Miguel and Cecilia share ownership of these cars. The possessive (indicated by 's) belongs to the entire phrase, not just to Cecilia.

Another example:

  • Lewis and Clark's expectations were very much the same. This construction tells us that the two gentlemen held one set of expectations in common.
  • Lewis's and Clark's expectations were altogether different. This means that the expectations of the two men were different (rather obvious from what the sentence says, too). We signify separate ownership by writing both of the compounded proper nouns in the possessive form.

When one of the possessors in a compound possessive is a personal pronoun, we have to put both possessors in the possessive form or we end up with something silly: “Bill and my car had to be towed last night.”

  • Bill's and my car had to be towed last night.
  • Giorgio's and her father was not around much during their childhood.

If this second sentence seems unsatisfactory, you might have to do some rewriting so you end up talking about their father, instead, or revert to using both names: “Giorgio and Isabel's father wasn't around much . . . .” (and then “Giorgio” will lose the apostrophe +s).

Possessives & Compound Constructions

This is different from the problem we confront when creating possessives with compound constructions such as daughter-in-law and friend of mine. Generally, the apostrophe -s is simply added to the end of the compound structure: my daughter-in-law's car, a friend of mine's car.

If this sounds clumsy, use the “of” construction to avoid the apostrophe: the car of a friend of mine, etc. This is especially useful in pluralized compound structures: the daughters-in-law's car sounds quite strange, but it's correct. We're better off with the car of the daughters-in-law.

See the section on Compound Nouns and Modifiers for additional help.

Possessives with Appositive Forms

When a possessive noun is followed by an appositive, a word that renames or explains that noun, the apostrophe +s is added to the appositive, not to the noun. When this happens, we drop the comma that would normally follow the appositive phrase.

  • We must get Joe Bidwell, the family attorney's signature.

Create such constructions with caution, however, as you might end up writing something that looks silly:

  • I wrecked my best friend, Bob's car.

Double Possessives

Today’s lesson involves a question of Cathy’s—or should that be “a question of Cathy”? By the end of this podcast, you’ll know which possessive to use. 

Now, Cathy has been wondering about the so-called double possessive and asks, “Which is correct—‘I am a friend of Fred’ or ‘I am a friend of Fred’s’?” She points out that it would sound normal to say, “He’s a friend of mine,” and “mine” is the possessive. 

Cathy's right, though you usually use only one possessive at a time. Many purists believe that double possessives should be relegated to informal and semiformal writing, if you use them at all. Nevertheless, double possessives have appeared in good writing for centuries, and most people will find themselves using them on occasion (1).

How to Create Possessives

You use possessives to indicate who owns what. If Squiggly owns a car, you say, “This is Squiggly's car.” You use an apostrophe plus an “s” on the end of “Squiggly.” You can also form a possessive by using the word “of,” such as “The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.” (Of course, you could also say, “the United Kingdom’s Crown Jewels.

”) These examples are just normal possessives. There’s nothing double about them. The confusion arises when you use both ways of making possessives at the same time, as in “a friend of Fred’s.” Here you have an apostrophe plus an “s” plus an “of.” Although such a double possessive is allowed, I personally prefer “Fred’s friend” over “a friend of Fred’s.

” Why not just say, “He's Fred's friend”?

Incorrect Possessives

Nevertheless, to help us learn what’s right, let’s look at some possessives and double possessives that native speakers wouldn't use. It definitely sounds odd to say, “a car of Squiggly.

” On the other hand, you could say, “a car of Squiggly's,” assuming he has lots of cars and you’re pointing out one of them.

However, “a car of Squiggly's” doesn’t sound as natural to me as “one of Squiggly's cars.”

On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal to say, “the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom” or “the United Kingdom’s Crown Jewels,” but it turns out that it’s ungrammatical to say, “the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom’s.

” Here’s a clear-cut rule that helps explain this: When you’re talking about inanimate objects—objects that aren’t alive, such as “the United Kingdom”—you can’t use a double possessive (2).

According to The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, for a double possessive to be legal, the object of the preposition “of” has to be “definite and human.” In other words, it’s fine to say, “a friend of my uncle’s” but not “a friend of the museum’s.” You have to say, “a friend of the museum.

” However, according to this rule, it would be OK to say, “He's a friend of a friend’s,” but we’ve all heard the common expression “a friend of a friend.” I guess double possessives don’t always work. That should make some sticklers happy.

Pages

Guidelines for Using Double Possessives in English

Take a good look at the following sentence:

Natsaha is a friend of Joan's and a client of Marlowe's.

If this sentence strikes you as extremely possessive, you're on the right track.

The combination of the preposition of and a possessive form—either a noun ending in -'s or a possessive pronoun—is called a double genitive (or double possessive). And while it may appear overly possessive, the construction has been around for centuries and it's perfectly correct.

British novelist Henry Fielding used the double genitive in A Journey From This World to the Next (1749):

At seven years old I was carried into France . . . , where I lived with a person of quality, who was an acquaintance of my father's.

You'll also find it in Anne Brontë's second (and final) novel:

Shortly after, they both came up, and she introduced him as Mr. Huntingdon, the son of a late friend of my uncle's.(The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, 1848)

American writer Stephen Crane slipped a double genitive into one of his short stories:

“Oh, just a toy of the child's,” explained the mother. “She's grown so fond of it, she loves it so.”(“The Stove,” in Whilomville Stories, 1900)

And in a recent novel, author Bil Wright doubled up on the construction:

He'd already proved he was a liar. And he had a girlfriend even though he wasn't divorced. No, not a monster. But definitely an enemy of my mother's and mine.(When the Black Girl Sings, 2008)

As these examples demonstrate, the double genitive is generally used for emphasis or clarification when the “possessor” is human.

But watch out. If you stare at it too long, you may convince yourself that you've found a mistake. Apparently that's what happened to one of the original language mavens, James Buchanan. Back in 1767, he tried to outlaw the double genitive:

Of being the sign of the Genitive Case, we cannot put it before a Noun with ('s) for this is making two Genitives.(A Regular English Syntax)

Keep in mind, as pointed out in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, that the “18th-century grammarians simply had a horror of anything double, because such constructions did not occur in Latin.

” But this is English, of course, not Latin, and despite its apparent redundancy, the double genitive is a well-established idiom—a functional part of the language dating back to Middle English.

As Theodore Bernstein says in Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins (1971), “the double genitive is of long standing, idiomatic, useful and here to stay.”

Finally, consider Martin Endley's demonstration of how the double genitive can be used to draw distinctions:

(59a) I saw a statue of Queen Victoria in the park.(59b) I saw a statue of Queen Victoria's in the park.Sentence (59a) can only mean that the speaker saw a statue depicting the great British monarch. On the other hand, the double genitive in (59b) would most naturally be understood to mean that the speaker saw a statue that once belonged to Queen Victoria but which depicted someone else.

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(Linguistic Perspectives on English Grammar, 2010)

All the same, if the double genitive troubles you, just follow the example of linguists Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey Pullum and call it something else: “The oblique genitive construction is commonly referred to as the 'double genitive.' . . . [H]owever, we do not regard of as a genitive case marker, and hence there is only one genitive here, not two” (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2002).

A Guide to Double Possessives

The double possessive, usually using both of and 's to demonstrate possession, is grammatical. While it is sometimes unnecessary, it can be helpful for differentiating when the possessive (or genitive) case is about association or ownership, such as in “a picture of my friend” vs. “a picture of my friend's.”

We'll illustrate with several delicious pies.

Grammatically, English sometimes gets doubly possessive—think “that mustache of Harry's,” which could be revised to be singly possessive as “Harry's mustache.” It's a curious thing, when you think about it. Curiosities of the language being our specialty, we're taking a closer look at the matter here.

First, a quick review of the grammatical possessive itself.

Possessives in English

The possessive, or genitive, form in English is typically shown with an 's or ' tacked onto the end of a name or noun. A singular noun normally gets the 's, while a plural noun that ends in a /s/ or /z/ sound takes simply ':

  • Mabel's entry in the baking contest was a lemon meringue pie.
  • Each entry's tag listed only the ingredients used.
  • Contestants' identities were to be entirely unknown to the judges.

Possessive adjectives and pronouns can often be used instead of a name or noun:

Mabel had made her pie by candlelight.

No one knew that the pie was hers.

A less common and more formal way to show possession is with of, which is normally used when it is a thing, rather than a person or animal, that has possession. Typically, that thing is not one that can be touched or held.

The winner of the contest [=the contest's winner] would be given the keys to the city.

The Double Possessive

Sometimes, however, English speakers will show the possession doubly, using two methods:

It had long been a dream of Mabel's to win the baking contest.

This kind of construction, known as the double possessive, or double genitive, dates back to Chaucer's time, and mostly gets used without being remarked upon by native speakers.

There are, however, people who will tell you to avoid it, which you can easily do by rewriting:

It had long been Mabel's dream to win the baking contest.

But what if we want to keep that of construction, which is, after all, allowed? Let's see if we can keep it in a single possessive construction:

It had long been a dream of Mabel to win the baking contest.

The result is problematic in two ways. It's unidiomatic—no native speaker would say it. And it's muddy semantically: the phrase “a dream of Mabel” carries the potential meaning of “a dream about Mabel,” which distracts the reader from the meaning intended.

Possession vs. Association

As we've talked about before, the possessive, or genitive, case isn't just about possession; it can also show that someone or something controls or is associated with someone or something else.

The double possessive, or double genitive, serves to separate the possessive genitive from other functions of the genitive.

“A dream of Mabel” can demonstrate the genitive of association, but “a dream of Mabel's” ensures that it's the genitive of possession at work.

This becomes even clearer with the classic “picture” example, first used by Joseph Priestly in the late 18th century.

There is no denying the difference in meaning conveyed in “this picture of my friend” and “this picture of my friend's”: the first is a picture in which the friend appears—an example of the genitive of association, and the second is a picture that belongs to the friend—an example of the genitive of possession. The double possessive, aka double genitive, proves useful, and can indeed be used without one having to worry about grammatical transgression.

Before we leave this curiosity entirely, there is an oddity to address. We said above that showing possession with of is normally used when it is a thing that has possession, rather than a person or animal having possession.

The double possessive/double genitive, however, throws that out the window. We can say “a dream of Mabel's,” but we cannot say “the winner of the contest's.” It turns out that English only lets people and animals be doubly possessive, and insists that they use of to do so.

Don't blame us. We're only the messenger.

Double possessive

Q From Frances Pack: You recently wrote ‘a friend of Pope’s’.

What? Do I not remember correctly that Pope’s is already possessive — so the use of of before it makes a double possessive? That was drummed into my ears when I was a freshman in high school in Latin I class. Curious — because I sometimes slip and write it that way — then have to go back and “correct” it. Is this no longer the rule?

A It never was. You’ve been led into a misunderstanding, as some grammarians of the eighteenth century were, by trying to apply the rules of Latin to English, where they don’t fit. It must be said that disputes about it are unrelated to effective communication, since nobody would ever fail to understand “a friend of Pope’s”.

You can immediately see that the construction is valid in English by replacing the noun with a pronoun. You wouldn’t say or write “a friend of you” or “a friend of me” — that is, not if you wanted to be thought capable of composing acceptable standard English. If “a friend of mine” is good English, why not “a friend of Pope’s”?

The technical name for this construction is double genitive or double possessive (it has also been called the appositional of-phrase, and the post-genitive).

It’s of great age — examples are to be found in writings of the fourteenth century; by the eighteenth century it was common and unremarkable.

This instance, picked pretty much at random but showing both forms of the idiom, is from Charles Dickens’s novel David Copperfield: “An aunt of my father’s, and consequently a great-aunt of mine, of whom I shall have more to relate by and by, was the principal magnate of our family.”

In particular, grammarians say a double possessive is essential to avoid giving the wrong meaning when a word indicating ownership is placed after of, as “a bone of the dog’s”.

The extra possessive is required because “a bone of the dog” means, not a bone in the possession of the dog, but one inside the dog.

“A picture of Jane” means an image of Jane, whereas “a picture of Jane’s” is a picture of any sort that happens to be owned by Jane.

But there are some limitations.

The phrase has to be indefinite — “a friend of Pope’s” is OK, but if I meant a particular one I would have had to write “the friend of Pope” or “Pope’s friend”; also, “a friend of ours” is idiomatic, but not “the friends of ours”, which would have to recast as “our friends”. And the second noun must be human, or at least animate, and also definite — so you can’t say “a friend of the British Library’s” or “a lover of the furniture’s”.

What’s fascinating about all this, and one reason why I’ve gone into so much detail, is that the rules are precise and strict and are understood and followed by every speaker of idiomatic English, even though they’re not usually taught in school.

Fluent speakers don’t know they know them and couldn’t explain them, say to someone learning the language, but they know immediately when they’ve been broken.

Native speakers pick up the rules for using such idioms by example and experience and only suffer confusion when these real-life rules conflict with the ones that grammarians of an earlier period would have had us believe were correct.

If you feel these rules to be arbitrary and unreasonable, the only response I can make is that it’s an idiom and that’s just the way things are. Robert Burchfield says at the end of his entry on it in the Third Edition of Fowler, “It is not easy to explain why such constructions are idiomatic: one can only assert that they are.”

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Last modified: 12 November 2005.

Double possessive definition and meaning

  

nounGrammar Also called: double genitive

Most material © 2005, 1997, 1991 by Penguin Random House LLC. Modified entries © 2019
by Penguin Random House LLC and HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

Source

Definition of double possessive from the
Collins English Dictionary

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Two possessive nouns in a row

Yes, the first sentence is correct. Although I suspect parent's may be intended as plural here, in which case the apostrophe should be moved to be parents'. I suspect this because if the house belonged to one parent, you'd be more likely to write Lauren's mom's/dad's house.

“I am going over to Lauren's parents' house this evening.”

The next two sentences can actually be simplified by removing one of the possessives.

“The store manager's niece was quite attractive.”

Store manager is a title, so you don't have to use a possessive to describe the store's manager. The same goes for the army general:

“The US Army general's wife's dog is on the lamb. Somebody stop it.”

(You also had a comma splice in there, which I've fixed.)

Disregarding the improvements to the second and third examples, the way you have used the multiple possessives is correct. However, it is best practice to try to reduce the number of consecutive possessives in a sentence if you can.

Possessives in English

Possession in English is expressed through possessive adjectives, possessive pronouns, and through the the possessive genitive, also called the Saxon genitive. The latter is a construction in English that does not exist in some other languages. If you need to review how to use possessives in English, this is the article for you.

The Saxon Genitive is used with the nouns for people, animals, countries, expressions of time, as well as the collective names for people and animals. It establishes a relationship of ownership or possession between two terms.

  • The Saxon genitive is formed by adding an apostrophe and an “s” to the name of the owner.
  • Examples
  • Robin’s car is green.
  • Julia’s dog is a beautiful westie.
  • My mum’s coat is brown.

If the name of the owner is plural, only the apostrophe is added. The same happens in the case of words that end with “s.

  1. Examples
  2. The sailors’ boat.
  3. My friends’ new home.
  4. Texas’ weather is unpredictable in the winter.
  5. In the case of proper names both constructions can be used.
  6. Examples

Mr. Jones’ cat is very old.

Mr. Jones’s cat is very old.

  • In compound names, the apostrophe and the “s” are added at the end of the last word.
  • Examples
  • My brother-in-law’s cousin.
  • My mother-in-law’s house is on the hill.
  • When there are several owners, the Saxon genitive rule is applied to the last name of the set.
  • Examples
  • Mario and Susan’s children attend primary school.
  • This is John and Jean’s car.
  • With collective names, the Saxon genitive is formed with an apostrophe and “s“.
  • Examples
  • People’s rights.
  • Women’s hair.

When the Saxon genitive is used for the name of restaurants, shops, schools, or churches, there is a difference of construction between British English and American English. The first requires the Saxon genitive with apostrophe and “s“, with the second leaves the name unchanged. In these cases, the name of the place (hospital, shop, restaurant, church) is implied.

Examples

British English

St. Mary’s is very ancient.

Are you coming to Paul’s for lunch?

American English

St. Mary’s is very ancient.

  1. Are you coming to Paul’s for lunch?
  2. When there are two cases of possessive in one sentence (the Saxon double genitive), it is interesting to pay attention to order of the words in the sentence, which may be reversed in relation to what happens in other languages.
  3. Examples
  4. This is John’s mother’s car.
  5. Take Emily’s sister’s book, please.
  • When the relationship expressed is between people and places
  • When the owner’s name is followed by a sentence
  • With nouns for inanimate objects
  • To express belonging for nouns for which the Saxon genitive is not applied, the possessive can be expressed with either a construction using the preposition “of“, or with a construction using possessive adjectives or pronouns.
  • Examples
  • The cover of the albumThe album cover
  • The door of the carThe car door
  • She is the wife of a maths teacher that works at my school.
  • The Queen of England.

One of the most frequent errors in possessive use is linked to the apostrophe. Remember not the use the apostrophe to form the plural of a noun.

  1. The Wilsons are my neighbors.
  2. Don’t forget that you must use an apostrophe in contractions.
  3. It’s my book!
  4. Don’t go out!

Another way to express possession is by using possessive adjectives and pronouns. In English, the possessive pronoun, is different from the possessive adjective. To avoid making mistakes, therefore, you should take care to memorize and learn to distinguish between them. Here is a table of the possessive pronouns and adjectives in English as well as some examples.

Person Adjective Pronoun
1st person singular my mine
2nd person singular your yours
3rd person singular masculine his his
3rd person singular femenine her hers
3rd person singular neutral its its
1st person plural our ours
2nd person plural your yours
3rd person plural their theirs

Examples

These are my keys. Those are yours.

Our house is quite small. Hers is big.

Our clothing is elegant and smart. Theirs is casual.

Now you know the structure of the Saxon genitive and other ways to show possession in English. If you are interested in learning more about English grammar, you can try ABA English. We offer 144 grammar video classes to learn English both effortlessly and well. We also offer many short films so that you can learn to speak English naturally. What are you waiting for? Try one of our video classes today!

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