Possessive 's

Possessive 's

Do you know how to use possessive 's? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how we use possessive 's.

Mohammed is my brother's son.
My grandpa's beard is white.
This is my grandparents' house.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar test 1: Possessive 's

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

We can use possessive 's to talk about the relationship between people or to say who owns something. Possessive 's always comes after a noun or a name.

We often use possessive 's or s' when we talk about family and friends.

Grandma and Grandpa are my mum's parents.
Maria's best friend is Juanita.
My cousins' birthdays are both in January.

We can also use it to say that something belongs to someone.

That's Roberto's flat. He's got a flat in the city centre.
Kim's hair is very long. She's got long, black hair.
My parents' garden is beautiful. They grow a lot of flowers.

When it is one person who owns something, we usually use 's.

Our friend's car is red. She loves it.
Simon's phone is new. He bought it yesterday.
Can you see Amira's keys? She can't find them.

It is possible to use more than one possessive in a phrase.

We had lunch at my friend's father's house.

If a name or noun ends in s, we can add either ' or 's. The pronunciation can be /zɪz/ or /sɪz/.

Is that James' bag?
That's my boss's office.

If the thing belongs to more than one person, we usually add ' after the s of the plural noun.

Our friends' house is in the mountains. They moved there last year.
My grandparents' dog is called Bertie.
The twins' school is closed today.

If the plural noun is irregular and doesn't end in s, we add 's.

This is our children's school.
The women's clothes are on the second floor.
A lot of people's eyes are brown.

If something belongs to more than one person, and we give a list of names, the 's comes after the last name in the list.

Liam is Anne and Gary's son.

Remember that s at the end of a word without an apostrophe (') can make it plural, but this doesn't show possession.

I've got two brothers.
Are those your keys?

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar test 2: Possessive 's

Language level

Average: 4.1 (71 votes)
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Submitted by Rosa_Adele on Sat, 24/06/2023 - 14:34

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If two people are sharing two different items, can we add two apostrophes?
E.g, different colours for two boys; these are Kevin's and Mario's colours 🤔🤔

Hello Rosa_Adele,

The sentence is correct but it is ambiguous. It could mean that you have two (or more) colours and those colours belong to both boys. For example, imagine we are talking about football teams:

Red and white are Arsenal's and Ajax's colours.

Red and white are Liverpool and Read Madrid's colours.

Grammatically, these sentences are the same. However, the first sentence describes two teams which wear red and white - in other words, Arsenal wear red and white and Ajax wear red and white. The second sentence describes two teams with different colours - in other words, Liverpool wear red and Read Madrid wear white.

How can we tell the difference? Only by context and knowledge. That is why the sentence is ambiguous. To make it clear we would add the word 'respectively' to the second sentence, showing that the first colour goes with the first team and the second colour with the second team.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Oldatel on Mon, 24/04/2023 - 14:50

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Hello, I have a grandson named Martin. Speaking of his first day of school, is it correct to say "my grandson's Martin's first day of school" or "my grandson Martin's first day of school"?
Thank you in advance.

Hello Oldatel,

The second one is correct. You can say 'my grandson Martin' to refer your grandson. The possessive 's is added to this phrase to show whose first day of school you're talking about.

I hope that makes sense.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by PN on Wed, 18/01/2023 - 07:37

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Hello, I have a question. I read about this possessive 's somewhere, and I understand that singular noun ends with s have to use 's (class's or gas's). But, if it's followed by a word that starts with S, it becomes like this: "class' sitting corner." Is it right?

Hello PN,

That's an interesting rule, but ultimately this is a matter of style. In other words, some people follow one rule and others follow other rules.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team