Possessives: adjectives

Learn about possessive adjectives like my, her and our and do the exercises to practise using them.

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

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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?

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Submitted by brianvariant on Wed, 22/06/2022 - 06:12

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Is there any difference in function or intention of the two sentences below:

I should learn about animal bodies.
I should learn about animals' bodies.

Hello brianvariant,

I think the sentences are interchangeable in terms of meaning; I can't think of a context in which there would be a difference in meaning or use. I would say that the first sentence is the more common option, but both are grammatically correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mike on Fri, 22/10/2021 - 06:27

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Hello, can somebody help me with this:

What would be correct: Women Forum or Women's Forum?

Thank you!

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

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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

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

In reply to by Nevı

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Hi! In the first set of exercises, number 7, ¿shouldn't be "anymore" and not "any more"? Thanks
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 04:32

In reply to by Claudia

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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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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