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Possessives

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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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Comments

Hello sir,

Please help me solve these two grammatical problems:

1) I saw them do it yesterday
2) I saw them doing it yesterday

Which is the correct sentence? If both are grammatically correct, then what's the difference between the two sentences? Under what grammatical rule do they fall? And when can I use each of them? I mean under what circumstances can I use each of them?

Thanks

Hello roc1,

Both sentences are grammatically correct but there is s difference in meaning.

 

I saw them do it yesterday

This means that you saw the whole action to completion.

 

I saw them doing it yesterday

This means that you saw the action in progress (after it had begun but before it ended) but did not necessarily see the end.

 

Thus, if I say I saw them painting the kitchen then it is not clear if the work is finished. If I say I saw them paint the kitchen then I saw them finish the job.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Yes, absolutely they are the same. Don't doubt. Thanks

is there any problem with your website?

I think yes!

Hello Nabul,

There is no problem that I am aware of. Are you having trouble accessing the site?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi.
I've got one question. Is this title correct?
'The Saint Apostle Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians'
Or:
' The Epistle of Saint Apostle to the Ephesians'.
As far as I can remember, we use possessive 's for people. But there are some cases in which we can use 'of'...
Also, I thought that I could use some synonims: disciple=apostle; epistle=letter.
Which is the appropriate title when it comes to academic writing?
Thank you.

Hi Marua,

There are different ways of referring to this book, including 'The Epistle to the Ephesians' or simply 'Ephesians'. I'm not very knowledgeable about the Bible, but when referring to Paul, what sounds natural to me is 'Saint Paul', 'Paul the Apostle' or 'the Apostle Paul' -- I think it's unusual to combine 'saint' and 'apostle' in the same title, though I may be wrong about that.

You're right in thinking that the possessive 's is usually used to refer to possessions, relationships and physical characteristics of people or animals, though we also use it with words that refer to groups of people (e.g. 'government' and countries). There are many exceptions to this rule, however, and when the noun phrases involved are complex, sometimes 'of' is used instead of 's.

In this case, I'd probably just say 'Epistle to the Ephesians', but if I wanted to include Paul, I'd probably say 'Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi, I still cannot access the various sections of this page. Will it be fixed soon? Thanks

Hi gibology,

I'm very sorry for the inconvenience, but I'm afraid we haven't been able to fix it yet. I assure you we are working on it; in the meantime, you might want to look at the Grammar videos on LearnEnglish Teens or the Grammar section of the Cambridge Dictionary.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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