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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

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Possessives: nouns 2

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Comments

Hello David,

I'm afraid none of these sentences are grammatically correct. If you changed 'Mary Jane' to 'Mary and Jane', then 1 would mean she has two daughters (one called 'Mary' and the other called 'Jane'); 2 would mean her one daughter has two first names ('Mary Jane', though really we call the second name a 'middle name', not a first name); 3 would still be incorrect; and 4 would mean she has two daughters -- both of them are called 'Mary Jane' (though really 'Jane' is a 'middle name').

That's rather complicated, but I hope it helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello David,

Sentence 3: 'Her first two daughter's names are Mary Jane.'

'daughter's' refers to one girl, but the sentence mentions two, so it doesn't make sense on this level. Also it should probably say 'Mary and Jane' is they are two different names for two different girls.

In your sentences, there is no problem with word order. If you can explain what the names of the two girls are, I'll be happy to tell you how to express what you mean.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi guys, love the website, many thanks. One question concerning the possessive 's, I don't know how to write (or even say) this sentence grammatically correctly, please help! Are any of these correct?

He wanted his brother's, Tommy's, toy.
He wanted his brother, Tommy's, toy.
He wanted his brother's, Tommy, toy.
He wanted his brother's - Tommy - toy.

Any help would be very much appreciated, thanks!

Hello theluggage,

I would say that there are two ways to say this:

 

He wanted his brother Tommy's toy.

He wanted his brother's, Tommy's, toy.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

As far as I understand " 's " can be used with the names referring to countries, animals, organisations, and people, however there are some examples which don't follow the rules such as "A fortnight's holiday", or " one of the city's community", and thus I am confused . I would appreciate if you help me through this matter.

Hello bany,

The general rule you mention is correct most of the time, but there are some other cases -- plus a fair amount of inconsistent use -- when 's is also used. For example, we often use it to measure time, so you can see phrases like 'a day's work', 'three hours' delay' or 'a fortnight's holiday'. A similar use is 's with the word 'worth' to measure value: 'ten rials' worth of almonds'.

I'd say that 'one of the city's community' follows the general rule because we can conceive of the city as a kind of organisation or group of people.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
Many thanks for your prompt explanation on the use of 'already' in negative sentences.
I have another issue I would like to ask a favor of you. I have seen that the use of
"to be + yet + to + verb" and "to have + yet + to + verb" are often used interchangeably, e.g.:
[A] I am yet to contact him.
[B] I have yet to contact him.

Questions:
[1] Are both of the structures grammatically correct ?
[2] What is the exact difference in meaning between these two structures?

Thank you.
Best regards,
Melvin

Hi Melvin,

Both of these structures are correct. They are used in formal language and there is no difference in meaning between them that I am aware of. There may be a slightly difference in implication, with 'have yet to contact...' suggesting that contact is planned or has been attempted without success' but I honestly think the two forms are used interchangeably in modern English.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
Thanks so much for your prompt reply.
I am not so clear about what you mean by "it is most often used when we are talking about a process or a particular sequence of actions which form a process of some kind rather than a one-off, self-contained act". Could you possibly give me a few simple examples where 'already' is used in the negative sentences with some remarks to show the differences with the use of 'yet' instead.
Your help would be very much appreciated.

Best regards,
Melvin

Hello Melvin,

'Already' with a negative form is an alternative to 'yet' in certain contexts and, as I said, is used in formal language. The form tends to be used when there is a sequence of steps which will be (or are expected to be) completed in time as part of a process or set of instructions, rather than single actions which may or may not occur. For example, we would be unlikely to use already with a negative form in these examples:

I haven't been to Spain yet. [not I have not already been to Spain]

The government had not yet reached a decision. [not The government had not already reached a decision]

 

This is not a question of a grammar rule which can be clearly definted, I think, but rather a description of a tendency in how these forms are used. The most common use of already in negative sentences is certainly in conditional clauses, which are an expression of the sense of expectation that I referred to above.

You can find a discussion of the same topic on this forum.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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