Possession

English grammar (See all)

Want to improve your English? Test our online English lessons for free!

Possession

•  To express possession, we need to understand the interrogative whose (of whom?), the genitive ('s in English), as well as possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns:
Whose office is this? Who does this office belong to?
- It's Polly's (office). It belongs to Polly. (genitive)
- It's her office. It's Polly's office. (possessive adjective)
- It's hers. It belongs to her. (possessive pronoun).
Whose is this? Who does this belong to? (in this case 'Whose' is a pronoun)
- It's Bob's (briefcase). It's (the briefcase) of Bob.
- It's mine. It belongs to me.
- It's my briefcase. It (this briefcase) belongs to me.

•  Possessive adjectives and pronouns:
my
mine
your
yours
his/her/its
his/hers/its
our
ours
your
yours
their
theirs


I left my cell phone at home. May I use yours? I left my cell phone at home. May I use your cell phone?
Polly does not own this car. It's not hers. It belongs to her father.

•  One's is used for non-defined subjects, in an impersonal style:
to mind one's own business not to be concerned with the affairs of others (informal)

•  A note on the genitive:

•  When the 'possessor' is in the plural, the word is followed by an apostrophe:

My parents' car. The car belonging to my parents.
The executives' bathroom. The bathroom for the executives.
The women's locker room. The locker room belonging to the women. (irregular plural: apostrophe: 's')

•  The genitive is usually only used when referring to people or animals:

The pig's ear. The ear of the pig.
The steering wheel of the car. or The car steering wheel.

•  Sometimes the genitive can refer to objects such as house, shop, store (etc.), even if these have not been previously mentioned:

Luna is at the doctor's right now. Luna is at the doctor's surgery at the moment.
I bought this bag at Warbuckle's. I bought this bag at Warbuckle's shop.
We are having dinner at the Kennedys' tonight. We are having dinner at the Kennedys' house tonight.

•  There are some expressions commonly used in adverts or shops where the apostrophe is omitted; sometimes the two words can even be joined:

Sports wear ( or Sportswear). Clothes worn for sport.
Salesman. A person who sells things.


Still having difficulties with 'Possession'? Want to improve your English? Test our online English lessons and receive a free level assessment!


Do you have smart way of remembering this rule? A tip to avoid making a mistake on 'Possession'? Share it with us!