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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


Possessives: nouns 2




Sir, I don't understand the use of 's here. What does this mean?

Barcelona's Lionel Messi attemps to nutmeg Manchester United's James Milner

Hello Dwishiren,

Leo Messi plays football for the Fútbol Club Barcelona (one of the two professional teams in Barcelona) and James Milner plays for Manchester United.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

What is the correct way to say it?

the candidate's CV vs the CV of the candidate

the voices' tone are similar vs the tone of the voices are similar


Hello MayelaM,

Both are correct. The first is more common in everyday English; the second sounds a little more formal. In the second pair of sentences you should say 'tones' rather than 'tone'.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

When speaking of a voice, the tone as adjective can be plural and singular according with the context?

The tone's voice vs the tone of his/her voice (1 person among a group = 1 tone for 1 voice)

The tones' voice vs the tones of a/the voice (1 person alone = several tones for only 1 voice)


Hi Mayela,

Apostrophe s is not typically used with abstract nouns (such as 'tone'), so I'd say 'his/her tone of voice' or 'his/her tones of voice'.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


My confusion is with its and it's. I often confuse them both. I forget that which one of them is the short of "it is" and which one shows possession.

Further I will ask should we use "it" for an animal and a country's name?

China is a very peaceful country. Its (or her's) relations with other countries are very diplomatic.

Kindly help me as I really want to master the true British English language.

Thank you

Hello Meer Cin,

'It's' means 'it is' - the best way to remember is that the apostrophe replaces a missing letter.

'Its' is the possessive form.

We use 'it' to refer to countries rather than any other pronoun.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Is this correct? I attended Jane and Jim's birthday.


That sentence is grammatically correct, though 'attend' sounds rather formal. We would probably say 'I was at' or 'I went to'. We would also say 'party' or 'celebration' rather than just 'birthday'. The most natural sentence would be:

I went to Jane and Jim's birthday party.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team