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


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?



I find the notion 'possessive adjective' to be quite a confusing misnomer. These truly do not operate like adjectives at all which is why they 'also' are called 'possessive determiner' which to some degree goes far better with the German term 'Possessivartikel'. For example, one aspect that sure doesn't have me classify these as 'adjectives' is the lack of any superlatives. I mean, please tell me there can never be a 'much yourer or yourest house'.

In English, determiners classed as possessive adjectives are given this term because (like adjectives) they modify their head noun to show possession, together they form a noun phrase.

This classification is not unique to English (in French, it's termed 'les adjectifs possessifs')

Hello tbeer,

My apologies if this has caused you any confusion. In fact, I agree with you and I expect that most people who concern themselves with such things for their own sake would as well.

Please note that this is a learner grammar, which means that is intended to help people gain a certain level of proficiency with using the language rather than describe it in a completely coherent way.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Is the possessive s an adjective?

Hello Jenny,

Apostrophe + 's' in this case is a possessive determiner. It can show possession or other relationships. You can read more about it in the Wikipedia and on this page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

So what you mean to say is, 'sports' here is an adjective and leisure activity is an adjective too!

I am still confused why is there an 's' in sports? Why it was not written 'sport'?

Why the writer had to separate it with 'and' then added the word 'leisure activity'?

Cycling is mainly a sports and leisure activity.

Please explain why is there an 'S' in 'sports.'
Is it as a plural or related to leisure and activity?

Hello Sad,

Speakers of American English tend to say 'sports' where speakers of British English would say 'sport', which I think might be way 'sports' is used in the sentence you refer to. Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

But this was written in Cambridge exam!
As I tried to analyse it, it looks like the 's' in sports refer to leisure and activity. But I am not sure and confused!

Any other explanation please.

Hello Sad,

The word 'sports' here is an adjective. We see it used most often in phrases like these:

sports day [a day in school devoted to races and similar competitions]

sports shoes [trainers or sneakers]

sports activities [different types of sport]



The LearnEnglish Team