Home > Learn English Online > English Grammar > Possession


Understanding grammar is key to understanding a language.
Learn English online and test Gymglish for free.


•  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:

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.

Take your learning further

Still facing difficulties with 'Possession'? Improve your English with Gymglish - try our English lessons for free now and receive a free level assessment!

Tips for learning 'Possession'? Share them with us!

Find out about other grammar rules. Improve your English further and test Gymglish, online English lessons.