Possessives: nouns

Level: beginner

We add 's to singular nouns to show possession:

We are having a party at John's house.
Michael drove his friend's car.

We add ' to plural nouns ending in -s:

This is my parents' house.
Those are ladies' shoes.

But we use 's with irregular plural nouns:

men women children people

These are men's shoes.
Children's clothes are very expensive.

We can use a possessive instead of a full noun phrase to avoid repeating words:

Is that John's car?
     No, it's Mary's. (NOT No, it's Mary's [car].)

Whose coat is this?
     It's my wife's.
 (NOT It's my wife's [coat].)

Possessives: nouns 1

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Possessives: nouns 2

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Hello zainab Shah

Is this perhaps homework? We're teachers here at LearnEnglish and believe that homework is important, so we're not keen on answering such questions.

One rule that might help you is that when the possessor is a person, animal or group of people, we usually use 's instead of the word of to indicate possession. This means that sentence 3 should be 'The boy's cap is red', for example, and in 4 you should say 'bird's nest'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by soniae on Wed, 06/02/2019 - 21:50

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Good evening. Is "the school's name is St Mary's" an acceptable alternative to " The name of the school is St. Mary's" ?

Hello soniae

Yes, it is. We tend to use the possessive s when the possessor is a person or animal or some kind of group of living beings (e.g. a country, a government or a school).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tara on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 13:33

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Which sentence is correct? The protagonist's, Bob, role is diverse. OR The protagonist, Bob's, role is diverse.

Hi Tara

I would recommend avoiding the issue by saying 'The role of the protagonist, Bob, is diverse' or 'The protagonist's role is diverse. For example, Bob ...'

If you do an internet search for 'possessives with appositive forms' or something similar, you can find people making different suggestions about this sort of issue. I'm not a trained professional editor, but I think many would make the same recommendation I have.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Aislin on Sun, 07/10/2018 - 16:49

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Hello! Would you mind helping me with an important question: using articles with possessives? I see different things in different textbooks, as usually ((( For example: Michael drove his friend’s car. (There we have a demonstrative pronoun HIS before the noun in possessive case). But would these sentenses be correct as well: Michael drove the friend’s car / Michael drove a friend’s car? I used to think that we do not use articles with possessives... Thank you in advance for you reply!
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sun, 07/10/2018 - 17:55

In reply to by Aislin

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Hello Aislin,

In the sentence you cite, 'his' is a possessive adjective (it modifies 'friend'), not a demonstrative pronoun. Both of the sentences you ask about are grammatically correct, but couldn't just replace the one you asked about. If you used the first one, for example, 'the' implies that the friend hasn't been identified and 'a' implies that the friend hasn't been mentioned yet.

Does that help you make sense of it?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kapel on Sat, 03/03/2018 - 08:08

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Which one of these is correct and why? The keys of car The car keys The car’s keys

Hello kapel,

The compound noun 'car keys' is the correct form here. This is simply the way native speakers have come to speak about this item that is so important for so many of us.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by asr09 on Tue, 20/02/2018 - 14:46

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Good Evening, In above mentioned example ,:We are having a party at John’s house. [there is only one possessive noun with 's] Can the sentence be written like this . We are having a party at John's wife's house.

Hello asr09,

Yes, both of those sentences are fine. You can have multiple possessives in one sentence, though you need to be careful that the sentence does not become hard to follow. Two possessives is certainly fine, but more than that is unusual.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lucie Gralton on Thu, 18/01/2018 - 08:04

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Hi Kirk, I would like to ask which one is right "Cerys's party invitation" or "Cerys' party invitation" Thank you for your help Lucie
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 19/01/2018 - 06:31

In reply to by Lucie Gralton

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Hello Lucie,

I understand the person's name is Cerys. In this case both forms are possible. In the same way we can say either of these:

James' car

James's car

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user joory hoory

Submitted by joory hoory on Sun, 06/09/2015 - 01:38

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hi guys I don't understand the question . my solution is so bad , What is mean the question for possessives nouns ? the answer is ( one / more than one) what depends the settle ? I don't understand
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 06/09/2015 - 20:26

In reply to by joory hoory

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Hi joory hoory,

You need to look at the example sentence and decide if the sentence is talking about one person or more than one.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team