Possessives: adjectives

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTYxNTU

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?

GapFillTyping_MTYxNTY

Online courses
Learn English online – with the world's English experts

Submitted by Risa warysha on Tue, 31/08/2021 - 03:44

Permalink
Hello teachers, I read on e newspaper "...that both children parents and children were more prone to burnout." Would you please explain, why it read "children parents" instead of "children's parents". Are they actually the same? If different, what is the difference? Thank you, sir

Hello Risa warysha,

The sentence is incorrect. As you say, the correct form would be children's parents.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nevı on Wed, 17/03/2021 - 10:06

Permalink
Hi team, I want to learn one more thing. I realised something about the verb phrase 'shake hand' during reading a text and I was confused about one thing. For example in this sentence , 'I shaked hand when we met.' I think the sentence should be like 'I shaked his hand....' Could you please explain me which one is true? Thank you

Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 03:28

In reply to by Nevı

Permalink

Hi Nevı,

You're right, it should be I shaked his hand.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Teacher, I saw some sentences like: 'I shaked hands with him.' Is it the same like 'I shaked his hand' ?

Hi Nevı,

Yes, the meaning is similar, and in many situations both would be fine to use! But there's a slight difference:

  • If I say I shaked his hand, it seems like I started the action, or I was shaking more forcefully than him.
  • If I say I shaked hands with him, it seems like the handshake was more equal. I could also say We shook hands to show this 'equality' more strongly.

Also, I should also mention that nowadays, it's very common to use shook as the past simple of the verb shake (instead of shaked).

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nevı on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 10:13

Permalink
Hi guys, I want to learn one more thing about 'whose'.I haven't seen using of non-defining relative pronoun 'whose' in sentence like that: "I talked Ellen, whose party it was, and then I.." It looks strange to me, 'it' is used after party and there is no word after"was"!? Could you explain why it was different? I always see 'whose' in sentences like 'She doesn't like him whose car is Ferrari"

Submitted by Jack on Wed, 16/12/2020 - 16:42

Permalink
Hello teacher. I have an example : The bird is standing on the branch, the big nest nearby is its. Is above sentence correct ? "Its" is possessive adjective or possessive pronoun or both of them ? Thanks !

Hi Jack,

It's a good question! Its is an adjective, but not a pronoun (see the full list on our Possessive pronouns page). So, in this sentence, I'd add a noun, for example:

  • The big nest nearby is its nest.
  • Its nest is the big one nearby.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jack on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 10:04

Permalink
Hello, in a sentence : The dog eat its bone. The possessive adjetive "its" include two meanings : The dog's bone and the bone people give. Is it correst, teacher ?

Hello Jack,

'its' just indicates some kind of relationship between the bone and the dog. In most cases, it's safe to assume that the bone belongs to the dog.

The form 'its' indicates a kind of possession. The form 'it's' is a short form of 'it is'. In the sentence you ask about, 'it's' wouldn't be correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Claudia on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 16:15

Permalink
Hi! In the first set of exercises, number 7, ¿shouldn't be "anymore" and not "any more"? Thanks

Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 04:32

In reply to by Claudia

Permalink

Hi Claudia,

Good question. In British English, any more is written as two words, in both of its uses – as a quantifier/determiner, and as an adverb. American English often uses anymore (one word) for the adverb.

Have a look at this page for more examples: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/any-more-or-anymore

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Laura Vazquez on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 06:58

Permalink
Hello, many gracks to complement my information, I was a little confused regarding the use of the apostrophe in possessive pronouns, complement my doubts by watching a video, thank you. regards!

Submitted by tbeer on Sun, 30/12/2018 - 12:17

Permalink
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'.

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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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')

Submitted by Jenny Woodfield on Sun, 28/10/2018 - 11:37

Permalink
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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sad on Tue, 20/02/2018 - 16:25

Permalink
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'?

Submitted by Sad on Sun, 18/02/2018 - 17:05

Permalink
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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dhayalsomendra09 on Sun, 06/08/2017 - 05:55

Permalink
sir , i have query related to possessive adjective 1. I have completed my graduation . 2. I have completed graduation which one is correct ? should we always use possessive adj before objective noun. 3. i am coming directly /to my office /from the station/no error. which part has error ,please explain with detail explanation.

Hello dhayalsomednra09,

Not every objective noun has a possessive adjective before it. If you read through an article in our Magazine, for example, you'll get a sense for this. You could say either sentence 1 or 2, but to be honest I'd probably just say 'I have graduated' or 'I graduated'.

In number 3 I think you're supposed to choose one of the answers after 'I am coming directly'. Which one do you think it is? It's better if you tell us what you think the answer is and explain to us what you understand or don't understand. That way you have to think about it a bit and we can see how you understand things. In the end, you will learn more that way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Joowon on Sat, 27/05/2017 - 12:28

Permalink
Hi, I have some questions about this grammar points. I hope you can explain to me. 1. If the sentence is "Where is my pillow?" and I am asked to change it into the plural form, can I write "Where are our pillows?"? 2. Can I change the sentence "Their shelves are clean." into the singular form like "Her/his shelf is clean."? 3. For a sentence like "I have to put a pizza on my table.", can I just change it into "We have to put pizzas on our table" instead of "our tables"? I do look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks. JW

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 27/05/2017 - 14:33

In reply to by Joowon

Permalink

Hello Joowon,

Yes, you could rewrite sentence 1 like that. You could perhaps also say 'my pillows'. Both are grammatically correct. Your versions of 2 and 3 are also correct. You could say 'our table' or 'our tables' -- it depends on what you mean, but both are grammatically correct.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HAMMAD AHMED SHAH on Sat, 22/04/2017 - 12:40

Permalink
Dear Sir. Why we can not use 'his' instead of 'its' in below sentence . The dog wagged its tail when it saw the postman

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 22/04/2017 - 16:56

In reply to by HAMMAD AHMED SHAH

Permalink

Hello Hammad Ahmed Shah,

You could use 'his' in this case if it is a male dog and particularly if it is one that you know or feel some kind of affection for.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mgfielrocha on Mon, 20/03/2017 - 15:00

Permalink
hi ! is this an example of possessive adjective? "the baby´s ill."

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 20/03/2017 - 15:36

In reply to by mgfielrocha

Permalink

Hello mgfielrocha,

No, the 's in the baby's ill is a contraction. A contraction is a shorter form of one or two words. In this case, 's is a contraction of is, so the sentence without a contraction would be the baby is ill.

By the way, there is a useful list of the most common contractions in English in the Cambridge Dictionary.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Matthewandannmarie on Mon, 13/03/2017 - 06:22

Permalink
Hello. Kindly, when you have a possessive adjective with a list of objects it possesses, do you attend the possessive adjective with only the first object it possesses in the list; or kindly, do you attend it with each object it possesses in the list, e.g. Kindly, those are my brown, my black and my white wallets or Kindly, those are my brown, black and white wallets? Kindly, please advise. Thank you. - Matthew

Hello Matthewandannmarie,

The possessive adjective does not need to be repeated. Normally we would therefore say:

These are my brown, black and white wallets.

If for some reason it was important to emphasise that each is 'my' and not, for example, 'her' wallet then you might repeat the possessive adjective, but this would be unusual.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by khatalieva on Sun, 15/01/2017 - 14:28

Permalink
Hello! Could you tell me diference between "our" and "ours" )))

Hello khatalieva,

'Our' is an example of a possessive adjective. We use 'our' when it is followed by a noun:

Whose is this book?

It's our book.

'Ours' is an example of a possessive pronoun. We use 'ours' when no noun is included:

Whose is this book?

It's ours.

You can read more about these forms in this section of our site.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Restomix on Fri, 16/12/2016 - 19:20

Permalink
Hello, dear teachers. Could you help me to realize the next sentence? The brightness of the snow made him blink.

Hello Restomix,

The meaning here is that the snow was so bright that he had to blink his eyes. Similar sentences would be:

The temperature was so low that it made me shiver.

It was such a sad film that it made me cry.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by outisonline on Fri, 09/12/2016 - 18:52

Permalink
Hello, is it correct to use "their" in this sentence: "The person couldn't find their car" as we don't know the gender of the person? Thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 10/12/2016 - 07:43

In reply to by outisonline

Permalink

Hello outisonline,

Yes, that is quite correct.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by amol on Tue, 06/12/2016 - 06:57

Permalink
Hello, What is the principal difference between Possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns? "This house is mine." Why can't we call "mine" as predicative adjective here as it is followed by verb (is)

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 06/12/2016 - 18:08

In reply to by amol

Permalink

Hello amol,

That's a great question and is very observant of you! There is some debate among linguists on how to classify these words (see this Wikipedia article for a little more about this), but that's an area we don't get involved in here, where our main purpose is to help people learn to use English rather than classify it. I'd recommend you remember what you've noticed and take the idea that 'mine' is a pronoun with a grain of salt - it's useful in many contexts, but not all.

I hope that sounds all right to you. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by maridewa on Wed, 09/11/2016 - 16:46

Permalink
Something wrong with this exercise: I answer with correct adjectives, but they seem all wrong (they are all red), when I check with "show answers" , they are correct !!

Hello maridewa,

That's very strange! I just did the exercise myself, and it was working correctly. Are you putting extra spaces or using capital letters? I'm afraid I don't know what could be causing this and it's difficult for me to ask our technical team about it if I cannot reproduce the error. Does the same thing happen when you do similar exercises on other pages? For example, our comparative adjectives page?

Sorry about this!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dwi Susanto on Wed, 28/09/2016 - 16:52

Permalink
I am very anxious with this task and question. So, I do, but I still have mistake. I try again and the result is good. Thank you

Submitted by NataliyaRus on Tue, 13/09/2016 - 21:28

Permalink
Sorry, I didn't understand that it was a task, not rule.

Submitted by NataliyaRus on Tue, 13/09/2016 - 21:25

Permalink
I'm sorry, may be I'm too silly, but look at your table He-his It-it?

Submitted by reyeslina on Mon, 11/07/2016 - 13:39

Permalink
Hi BC, The Q3 says: The dog wagged _____ tall when it saw the postman. I answered: his, but the cirrect answer is: its. Could please explain me why? Thanks

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 11/07/2016 - 15:23

In reply to by reyeslina

Permalink

Hello again reyeslina,

In theory, 'his', 'her' or 'its' could also be used to refer to a dog. People tend to use 'its' when they don't know the dog or don't care about it; when they do know the dog, they usually use the appropriate form ('his' or 'her') according to its gender.

In this case, the second part of the sentence ('... when it saw the postman') indicates that the speaker doesn't know this dog, so 'it's' is the only correct answer.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by The_Unknown on Wed, 29/06/2016 - 14:50

Permalink
Sir, as we know that adjective is tell you more about the noun. So in the above example [My car is very old.] can we consider Old as an adjective? (or Very Old as an adjective). My is a Possessive Adjective.

Hello again The_Unknown,

Yes, 'old' is an adjective, but 'very' is an adverb. By the way, any good dictionary, such as the Cambridge Dictionary, will show you what part of speech (adverb, verb, preposition, etc.) words can be. You could also put sentences into a sentence parser to see what part of speech they are.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by shelma on Wed, 13/04/2016 - 02:50

Permalink
Hi. In the sentence 'My room is the biggest.' Is the word 'My' a possessive pronoun or possessive adjective? Thanks