Possessives

Possessives are forms that we use to talk about possessions and relationships between things and people. They take different forms depending on how they are used.

Read clear grammar explanations and example sentences to help you understand how possessives are used. Then, put your grammar knowledge into practice by doing the exercises.  

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Submitted by SonuKumar on Wed, 14/02/2018 - 12:38

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Sir, There is something going on in the house next to ours or our house ? I think both the opinions are available here as to which we choose 'ours or our house' right?

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 14/02/2018 - 12:56

In reply to by SonuKumar

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Hello SonuKumar,

Both forms are grammatically correct, but 'in the house next to ours' is much more commonly used than 'in the house next to our house' because it is shorter and also unambiguous.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ihsan_qwerty on Sat, 06/01/2018 - 07:04

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hi a proposition can come before a question word. for example : 1. which warehouse were the goods stored in? = in which warehouse were the goods stored? or 2. who did you obtain the information from= from whom you obtain the information? and I know we do this because it is more formal but for "what about" and looking for" is not the same. for example, if we say : 3. "about what are you worrying?" instead of "what are you worrying about?" 4. "for what are you looking?" instead of "what are you looking for?" these are incorrect. I want to know why we can not use this rules for the example number 3 and 4 and I want to know are there anymore? thank you in advance

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 07/01/2018 - 07:49

In reply to by ihsan_qwerty

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Hi ihsan_qwerty,

You are correct that sentences like the following are not used in standard English:

About what are you worrying?

For what are you looking?

However, this is not because they break a grammatical rule. Grammatically speaking, they are perfectly correct. Language is governed by more than just grammatical rules. Convention is also important, which means the standard usage which has grown up over time. There are many examples of linguistic conventions. For example, when someone says to you 'How do you do?' the correct answer is not to answer the question but to say 'How do you do?' in return. In lexis there are also conventions. Thus we say 'salt and pepper' and 'black and white' rather than 'pepper and salt' and 'white and black'. These are not based on rules but on conventions of use. Going against these convention makes your language sound odd, which can be useful for rhetorical effect but is not something to do too often.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank you so much. you and your friends are excellent. I wish you best

Submitted by Rahim Dhaka on Sun, 03/12/2017 - 16:51

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"This section will help you to improve your English for business and work. Watch videos, listen to audio and read texts with a focus on the world of business and work" AS far I know 'help' is a bare infinitive verb which does not go 'to' but here 'to improve' makes me confused. Please help me get rid.

Hello Rahim Dhaka,

Both 'help you to improve' and 'help you improve' are correct patterns. If you look in the example sentences in the dictionary entry for 'help', you can see this indicated there: '(to)' means that 'to' is optional in this construction.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by JakiGeh on Fri, 08/09/2017 - 18:10

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Hello, ''The balloon is girls' '' Do we pronounce the plural nouns with apostrophe ''girlses'' (as in names ending with ''s'') or as only a plural noun ( in this example ''girls'')? Thank you.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 09/09/2017 - 09:39

In reply to by JakiGeh

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Hello Jaki Geh,

The plural possessive 's' is generally pronounced the same as the plural, without any extra syllables. Where they may be ambiguity the speaker may add extra emphasis in the way you suggest.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 10/09/2017 - 18:47

In reply to by JakiGeh

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Hello JakiGeh,

I've heard both pronunciations. As far as I know, both are correct, though the one with the extra syllable sounds more informal to me.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sat, 26/08/2017 - 12:53

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It will cost much to the one whoever wearing a red dress or in a red dress dances with a girl in my fair. Sir, is this a right sentence ? if not then Could you please make a right one for me. I want to say that Anyone in a red dress, if dances with a girl in my fair, it will cost much to him.

Submitted by SonuKumar on Fri, 25/08/2017 - 08:44

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It really costs much to dance with a girl in red dress. Does preposition pharse 'in red dress' refer to the girl or someone, whoever will dance with her and if that refers to the girl then Could we say 'It really costs much to one in red dress or wearing red dress whoever will dance with a girl, If we want that preposition phrase to refer to one who will dance with a girl ?

Hello SonuKumar,

The sentence is not fully correct but the phrase 'in the red dress' (as it should be) refers to the girl unless there is a specific context which suggests otherwise.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Adya's on Tue, 23/05/2017 - 16:56

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Thanks Kirk. It's very nice of you. Thanks once again.

Submitted by Adya's on Wed, 17/05/2017 - 01:55

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Hi Which would be the correct form of 's in the following? 1. 5 kgs' pack or 5 kg's pack. 2. 5 kms' journey or 5 km's journey. 3. 5 days' work or 5 day's work. Regards.

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 21/05/2017 - 17:36

In reply to by Adya's

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Hello Adya's,

For 1, 'a five kilogram pack' is probably the most common, and for 2, 'a five kilometer journey'. This kind of structure is common with numbers, units of measurement and nouns. For 3, I'd probably say 'five days of work' to be honest.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by diocece on Fri, 12/05/2017 - 17:31

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Hey kirk i got doubts in these qu. is he a lawyer? yes, it is. it's a lawyer or yes, he is. he's a lawyer ----- is your friend a lawyer? yes, it is. it's a lawyer or yes, he is. he's a lawyer please tell which is the right one. thank you in advance

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 13/05/2017 - 06:31

In reply to by diocece

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Hello diocece,

In both of those examples we would use 'he' (or 'she' if the person is a woman, or 'they' if we do not know if it is a man or a woman). We do not use 'it' to talk about people.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by irfanhanif970 on Fri, 12/05/2017 - 09:46

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Hi sir, I'm really confused about these two sentences 1) After 48 hours, Client had still not approved the files. 2) After 48 hours, Client has still not approved the files. What is difference between in these two sentences and which is correct?

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 12/05/2017 - 13:01

In reply to by irfanhanif970

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Hello irfanhanif970,

Note that the difference is in the verb. In 1, 'had not approved' is a past perfect form and 'has not approved' (in 2) is a present perfect form. Basically, 1 speaks about a time in the past, whereas 2 speaks about the present. But I'd recommend you read the explanations on the two pages I linked to in order to understand the difference better.

After you read those pages, if it's still not clear to you, explain to us what you think the difference is and we can help you with that.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Daniel H on Sat, 01/04/2017 - 20:27

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Hello. I'm very confused about an example that I've read on the Cambridge dictionary; it is about the possessive 's and it says like this: 'Greg is her youngest daughter’s husband'. I can't clearly understand what it means, but I guess that it has been said in a situation like this: For instance, somebody is talking about 'Greg", who is someone's youngest daughter. In this case, for example, that person could be John. So, Greg is John's youngest daughter. Nonetheless, there is a third person that is not being referred: John's wife, whose name is Mary. That means that someone is referring to Greg, who is John's youngest daughter but not Mary's daughter (she -Greg- is Mary's stepdaughter). Am I correct? Could you please tell me what the correct answer is? Thank you beforehand.

Hello Daniel H,

The sentence is much simpler than you are making it, I think. Greg is not someone's youngest daughter; Greg is married to someone's youngest daughter. Another way to say the sentence would be

Greg is the husband of her youngest daughter.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by pintu94 on Tue, 07/03/2017 - 11:35

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hi i am confuse on this topic

Hello pintu94,

If you follow the links to the different pages in this section, you'll see explanations. If you have any specific questions about what you see on any of those pages, please feel free to ask us there.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Thuong123 on Tue, 07/03/2017 - 02:48

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Hi, i'm quite confuse on this topic with the following reason, why we add s to some nouns to show the possesive while other nouns not, for example : Mark's car but Car door, Kathy's pen but pen writers. Would anybody explain it for me? Thank a lot.

Hi Thuong123,

When we want to show possession we add 's to the noun, as you say. The examples where there is no 's are different. In these the first word is not a noun, but an adjective. It can be confusing because the words have the same form:

This is my car ['car' is a noun]

My car door is scratched ['car' is an adjective describing the noun 'door']

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter, Thanks for a reply. Can you please give me a clue how to distinguish whether nouns are adjectives or not? Thank you.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 12/03/2017 - 07:19

In reply to by Thuong123

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Hi Thuobg123,

I'm afraid the only answer is to recognise the function of the word from the context and from knowing common use; there is no rule which allows you to tell an adjective from a noun purely by its spelling.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by naghmairam on Sat, 11/02/2017 - 06:18

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Hello Which of the following phrases is correct? body of the animals bodies of the animals Thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 11/02/2017 - 09:07

In reply to by naghmairam

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Hello naghmairam,

The first phrase is not correct as more than one animal does not share a body.

The second phrase may be correct, depending on the context. A definite article before 'bodies' seems likely, though this will depend on the context.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter, Thank you for explanation,however in my mind has appeared 1 confusion.For example, in the forest, all the TREES' branches were waving in the wind. In the context the author used (TREES') but why? If we say A CAR DOOR, so why we can't use TREE BRANCHES in this case? Thanks again for your attention.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 16/03/2017 - 06:55

In reply to by Thuong123

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Hi Thuong,

You can say tree branches, where tree functions as an adjective in the noun phrase. Depending on how many trees you are describing you can also say the branches of the tree, the tree's branchesthe branches of the trees or the trees' branches.

I'm not sure why you think you can't use the phrase, to be honest.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Thuong123 on Thu, 16/03/2017 - 10:21

In reply to by Peter M.

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THank you, so ( if we talk about 1 tree for example) the meaning of TREE BRANCHES ( without adding S) and TREE'S BRANCHES is similar?Is it accepted both forms by the English grammar,sir?

Hello Thuong,

This depends on the context. Tree branches simply tells us what kind of branches they are (not from a bush, for example), not how many trees there are, or if we are talking in general or in specific terms.

A/The tree's branches tells us that we are talking about the branches of one tree.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by david H L on Wed, 28/12/2016 - 08:40

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I like to practice in writing. Is someone interested practice together and helping for improvement?

Hello david H L,

I just wanted to say that you are very welcome to write messages and texts in the comments on the pages in LearnEnglish. Someone might respond, and in any case it's great practice.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nadeem Al-Murshedi on Mon, 07/11/2016 - 18:03

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Hi Krik I have found the worksheets provided in the "LearnEnglishKids" website interesting and useful. Is it possible to have similar worksheets for the different topics provided in the "LearnEnglish" website?

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 08/11/2016 - 07:04

In reply to by Nadeem Al-Murshedi

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Hi Nadeem Al-Murshedi,

Thank you for the suggestion - we will consider this when next we upgrade the site. Many of our pages do have downloadable resources, including worksheets. For example, the Word on the Street pages (like this one) have Support Packs which include worksheets and other useful materials (audioscripts and a key, for example).

Most pages also have a 'printer-friendly' option included, which is designed to summarise the page in a way which can be printed. This is not the same as a full worksheet but may be helpful to you where a Support Pack is not available.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter for your reply and for considering my suggestion. As a teacher trainer I always ask my trainees, students and teachers, to make the most of the British Council's free downloadable, simplified and interesting materials. I train them how to use these materials, including the Support Packs, in and outside their classrooms. In my context, Yemen, worksheets are important because many students and teachers lack internet access at school and home, and there is a difficulty to practise all the interactive online activities. Therefore, worksheets become the best alternative for them. Kind regards, Nadeem

Submitted by ehab mustafa on Sun, 16/10/2016 - 09:13

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thank you mister Kirk

Submitted by ehab mustafa on Thu, 06/10/2016 - 09:19

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what the different between : 1- do you know 2- did you know

Hello ehab mustafa,

1 is in the present simple tense and 2 is in the past simple tense. See our Verbs section for more about these tenses.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by douglaslima14 on Sat, 01/10/2016 - 13:38

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Which one is correct? Why? Send the video to your class Google Drive account. or Send the video to your class' Google Drive account.

Hello douglaslima14,

Both of these are possible.

With the apostrophe you are using a possessive form: the Google Drive account of the class.

Without the apostrophe, you are using 'class' as an adjective:

Which Google Drive account?

The class Google Drive account.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by alexandra.m on Thu, 15/09/2016 - 13:48

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Hello, In this sentence where would "his" point to? To Bob or his brother? "I need to help Bob's brother, and fix his computer." Regards, Alexandra

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 15/09/2016 - 14:04

In reply to by alexandra.m

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Hello Alexandra,

Considering the sentence out of context, it's not clear – 'his' could refer either to Bob or his brother. Usually, though not always, the words that possessive adjectives refer to are clear in their contexts.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Prap on Fri, 09/09/2016 - 16:28

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Would you mind telling me which one is correct - Teachers Day or Teachers' Day?

Hello prapsahu,

I have seen both of these used but I would say that the second one is grammatically correct. With a plural noun (teachers) we place the apostrophe after the s to make the possessive form.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by zagrus on Tue, 06/09/2016 - 08:46

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Hi, Which is correct and what is the difference in meaning? Teacher's room or teachers' room. ...when we were in our mother's wombs. or ....when we were in our mothers' wombs. ..or when we were in our mothers' womb. Best regards, Abdullah