Possessives: adjectives

Level: beginner

Subject Object Possessive adjective
I me my 
you you your
he him his
she her her
it it its
we us our
they them their

We use possessive adjectives:

  • to show something belongs to somebody:

That's our house.
My car is very old.

  • for relations and friends:

My mother is a doctor.
How old is your sister?

  • for parts of the body:

He's broken his arm.
She's washing her hair.
I need to clean my teeth.

Possessives: adjectives

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Be careful!

The possessive adjective its does not have an apostrophe ('):

That bird has broken its (NOT it's) wing.

(it's always means it is or it has.)

its or it's?

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Submitted by The_Unknown on Wed, 29/06/2016 - 14:50

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Sir, as we know that adjective is tell you more about the noun. So in the above example [My car is very old.] can we consider Old as an adjective? (or Very Old as an adjective). My is a Possessive Adjective.

Hello again The_Unknown,

Yes, 'old' is an adjective, but 'very' is an adverb. By the way, any good dictionary, such as the Cambridge Dictionary, will show you what part of speech (adverb, verb, preposition, etc.) words can be. You could also put sentences into a sentence parser to see what part of speech they are.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by shelma on Wed, 13/04/2016 - 02:50

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Hi. In the sentence 'My room is the biggest.' Is the word 'My' a possessive pronoun or possessive adjective? Thanks

Hello shelma,

Adjectives tell us more about a noun, while pronouns replace a noun. In this sentence, 'my' is telling us something about the noun 'room', which makes it an adjective. Also, the possessive pronoun for the first person singular ('I') is 'mine'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tonyo83 on Wed, 30/03/2016 - 15:09

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Shouldn't it be "hers" in the options at the top? not just her. its, your, my, their, our, herS, his

Hello tonyo,

'hers' is a possessive pronoun, whereas 'her' is a possessive adjective, so actually the list at the top of the page is correct. You'll find 'hers' on our possessives: pronouns page.

I changed the table at the top to say 'Possessive Adjective' instead of just 'Possessive' to help make it clearer. Thanks for telling us about this – you've helped us improve the site!

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ging-gong on Sat, 05/03/2016 - 18:19

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Hello, I'm quite confused about the use of the possessive adjective "their". Could you kindly tell me if it is right to say: They didn't follow their superior's advice and brought their laptop. Should I say "their laptops" ? Or should I say "their laptop"?

Hello ging-gong,

In this sentence 'their' refers to the subject ('they'). It can be followed with 'laptop' (if it is one laptop shared by 'them') or 'laptops' (if it is a number of laptops).

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by neh7272 on Wed, 03/02/2016 - 13:08

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sir, what is the difference between determiners (possessives) and possessive adjective.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 04/02/2016 - 09:27

In reply to by neh7272

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Hello neh7272,

Possessive adjectives are one kind of determiner. For more information, see here and here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by munish064 on Sun, 24/01/2016 - 05:34

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sir, may be this is a stupid question but why can not we use 'his' with dog in a sentence or exercise above, after all he is a dog not a 'bitch'? I think we should use 'he' 'and she' with humans only'. Thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 25/01/2016 - 11:05

In reply to by munish064

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Hello munish064,

We use 'dog' as the general word to mean the animal. It can mean a male rather than a female, which is called a bitch, as you say, but we only distinguish when it is necessary or when we are talking about our own pet; otherwise we say 'dog' and 'it'. However, in this sentence there is no indication whether the animal is a male or female, and so we would use 'it'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by faisal.iqbal on Mon, 10/08/2015 - 19:11

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Can i use it's in place of its

Hello faisal.iqbal,

These are quite different - though many people confuse them, including native speakers.

Its (no apostrophe) is a possessive form:

This is the dog, and this is the dog's tail > This is the dog and this is its tail.

It's (with an apostrophe) is a contracted form:

It is a nice day > It's a nice day

It has got two doors > It's got two doors

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by paeng on Fri, 05/06/2015 - 10:32

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Thanks alot for your lessons

Submitted by RAFIQ ALBALUSHI on Sat, 31/05/2014 - 20:48

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have a nice time

Submitted by AbdulMohsin on Mon, 12/05/2014 - 16:28

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Making excuses is Idle's man Job. Can u correct pls

Hello AbdulMohsin,

It sounds like a translation of an idiom so I'm not completely sure how it should be written to be as close as possible to the original meaning.  However, I would suggest:

Making excuses is an idle man's trade.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ritesh46 on Fri, 20/12/2013 - 22:23

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sir , in sentence ''did you know cyclist shave their  legs'',i can use ''your'' in place of ''their''

Hello yogesh mani tripathi,

Grammatically, you can substitute 'your' for 'their' as both as possessive pronouns.  However, the meaning is very different!  If the sentence is with 'their' then the cyclists are shaving their own legs.  If the sentence is with 'your' then you would be saying that the cyclists shave the legs of the person you are talking to... and asking that person if they know about it.  A very odd sentence and not very likely!

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lanapon on Wed, 27/11/2013 - 20:26

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lm sorry but I could not  find a dictionary box here. 

Hello Lanapon,

The dictionary is on the right-hand side of the screen, at the bottom of the grey bar.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by amanzoor on Mon, 01/04/2013 - 09:53

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Hi,

Its aamir here and i have just joined.........

Submitted by Lateef on Fri, 01/02/2013 - 11:49

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What is the difference between "Their" and "There".

Hello Lateef,

Have you tried looking these words up in the dictionary box at the right-hand side of the page?

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by elpal1 on Tue, 18/12/2012 - 12:13

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I don't understand why

the dog wagged its tail  when it saw the postman

why its and not "their"?

Hello,

Some people use 'their' to refer to a person when they don't know if that person is a man or a woman. e.g. 'Any employee can bring their family to the Christmas party.' However, we usually only use it about humans, not animals.

When we don't know if an animal is male or female, we use 'its'. e.g. 'The cat ate its food.'

Let us know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Because (the dog) is singular and (its) is used with singular, while (their) is used with plural one .

Submitted by radoun on Fri, 14/12/2012 - 12:17

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i am delighted to see that many people are sharing their problems.it is a sign that they practice English

 

Submitted by princess_mo0on on Mon, 12/11/2012 - 23:38

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Hi! my name's Amira and I'm new here . I have a question and hope someone answers me  . Which possessive adjective should i use with everyone, everybody, etc ? For example : everyone eats ..........breakfast.

A-his                  B-their                     C-both

I know that everyone is singular but i read here " when we are not sure if we re talking about a man or a woman we use they/them" . So please tell me what should i use ?

thanks

Hello princess_mo0on!

 

B is the most common answer these days. Older books generally just use his, and some writers will write his or her, but their is probably best. Both is definitely wrong, because that means 2!

Hope that helps

Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir ,

Thanks for answering my question and explaining .

oh and I meant by both both answers (A and b )

Submitted by Debinov on Tue, 23/10/2012 - 18:03

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I've just noticed that "my, your,etc." belong to possessives adjectives. Thanks British Council!

Submitted by fatma78 on Wed, 03/10/2012 - 17:49

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dear sir
I am fatma from egypt im live now in USA with my husband i try 2 learn english , but i have some plm if u please can u help me in this , i need plan 2 get start well .. sorry about my english i just need help 2 get ajob & life in this community ..  thank u

Submitted by khurram mukhtar on Sun, 03/06/2012 - 19:43

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I  really enjoy these exercises . 

Submitted by tharindur818 on Tue, 03/04/2012 - 11:24

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Is this a question ? 

or should it be changed like '' you can '' ?

Can you match these possessive adjectives to the right personal pronouns:

Hello,

Good point! I think the person writing that sentence probably forgot they were writing a question when they got to the end and put a colon instead to lead into the pronouns.

I've fixed it. Do tell us if you see any other problems on this site.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

dear sir

I am fatma from egypt im live now in USA with my husband i try 2 learn english , but i have some plm if u please can u help me in this , i need plan 2 get start well .. sorry about my english i just need help 2 get ajob & life in this community ..  thank u

Submitted by mydang on Wed, 29/02/2012 - 12:47

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I wish I  aware earlier  how important English is to my life.( not sure i wrote correctly)..

Somebody please help me to understand what is the difference between no and none, no and don't

such as : i don't need & i no need.

Thanks in advance.

Hello mydang!

 

In answer to your question, you are mixing 3 different ideas about no. 'No' is a word that we usually  use on its own. You sometimes use none to answer questions about things ('Do you have any money?' 'None'). 'Don't' is used with verbs. We never use no before verbs, so I don't need it is good, but I no need is wrong. This page on negative verbs might help you!

 

Hope that helps!

Jeremy Bee
The Learn English Team

Submitted by A R Bhat on Sun, 22/01/2012 - 12:36

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Some words are used with one spelling as nouns and another spelling as verb,such as 'advice' and 'advise', 'practice' and 'practise'.Are there any other words like that? Kindly let me know if there are any.