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

MultipleChoice_MTYxNDk

Possessives: nouns 2

GapFillTyping_MTYxNTE

 

Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

Submitted by Pratapsingh on Sat, 22/05/2021 - 08:33

Permalink
Dear sir, Is the following sentence correct? "One of my husband Peter's most significant legacies is the modernization of this organisation." I have read that we cannot use "apostrophe s" after "one of". Please explain. Thank you

Hello Pratapsingh,

That sentence looks correct to me. I'm afraid I can't explain the rule that you read somewhere else.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by alex117 on Sat, 03/04/2021 - 05:50

Permalink
Thanks for these wonderful materials guys..

Submitted by Westley on Tue, 26/01/2021 - 05:04

Permalink
Hey, there! I have a question, for example if I want to use the possessive for nouns that end in "ch", "sh", or "h", how would they be spelled and pronounced? For instance: Dash. Dash's car is blue?

Hello Westley,

Regarding the spelling, all are usually spelled simply by adding 's: Dash's car, Rich's brother, Soh's sister.

As for the pronunciation of words ending with an 'sh' or 'ch' sound, a short vowel sound is pronounced between the end of the noun and the 's. The word 'Rich's', for example, is pronounced exactly like 'riches'; if you follow the link, you can click to hear the pronunciation. 'Dash's' sounds like the plural of 'dash': 'dashes'.

I can't think of a word that ends with an 'h' sound in English, so I'm afraid I can't say anything about the pronunciation of such a word. If you have one in mind, please let me know.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by bakh.sh85 on Mon, 18/01/2021 - 13:51

Permalink
Hi there. I need your help to pick up the correct one please. Should i say: Students Daily Activity OR Students’ Daily Activity I am not sure even if the sequence is correct.Should I say Daily Students’ Activity

Hello bakh.sh85,

Both the second and third ones are correct, but mean different things. I suppose the second one is the one you mean -- it refers to the daily activity of the students. (Should it be 'activities'? If you want to emphasise that they do many different things, then you could make it plural. If you just mean all their work in general, 'activity' is fine.)

The third one means the activity of the daily students.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you sir I really appreciate your helping. According to that same question, are we supposed to say ‘Student’s Daily Activities’ if there are different activities such as Reading, Quizzes, etc?

Hello bakh.sh85,

Yes, that's right.

Be careful with the apostrophe with the word 'student', however:

> student's activities = 1 student

> students' activities = more than 1 student

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jack on Tue, 29/12/2020 - 09:56

Permalink
Hello teacher ! I have an example in the book named The Alchemist: The boy could see in HIS FATHER'S (1) gaze a desire to be able, himself, to travel the world—a desire that was still alive, despite HIS FATHER'S(2) having had to bury it, over dozens of years, under the burden of struggling for water to drink, food to eat, and the same place to sleep every night of his life. There are two possessives (1),(2) : HIS FATHER'S in this paragraph, is it the same meaning and structure teacher ? Thank you !

Hello Jack,

That depends on how you classify them, but in general, yes, I'd say they're the same or at least similar. As for how they are different, in the first, the object is a noun ('gaze'), whereas in the second, the object is a phrase with a verb as its head ('having had to bury it').

I'm not sure if I've answered your question, so please let us know if you were asking about something else.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

At the begining, I cannot figure out " having had to bury" is a phrase, it's so strange, I have never seen it. This is the reason why I am confused with the possessive "his father's". Can you help me to clarify what kind of phrase is it ? Thanks .

Hello Jack,

It's possible to use a possessive form before a gerund. For example:

My friend sleeps a lot, but in spite of her sleeping she gets a lot of work done.

Your example is similar to this, but the possessive form is a noun with 's:

..a desire that was still alive, despite his father's having had to bury it, over dozens of years...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

 

Submitted by Ricky118 on Sat, 28/11/2020 - 11:57

Permalink
Hello! I would like to ask a question related to the following sentence. ''We managed to better understand the patterns of students’ subject choices.'' I know possessive adjectives belongs to central determiners, but are possessive nouns, like ''students''', considered to be central determiners? If not, are they belong to pre-determiner, post-determiner, or pre-modifier? Thanks a lot!

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 29/11/2020 - 08:09

In reply to by Ricky118

Permalink

Hello Ricky118,

Pre-, central and postdeterminers are descriptors based on acceptable sequencing in phrases, so it's helpful to consider the item in question in context:

'all our students' options' contains a predeterminer (all), a central determiner (our) and a postdeterminer (students'). You can see this if you try to change the order; no other order is possible.

 

I hope that clarifies it for you. Please note that our site is really aimed at language learners rather than students of linguistics and I think your question really falls into the latter category. You may find a linguistics orientated site more useful for these kinds of questions. Stack Exchange has a linguistics section which is a good place to start:

https://linguistics.stackexchange.com/

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HelenHelen15 on Tue, 24/11/2020 - 20:16

Permalink
Hello! Could you help me with these two sentences, please? Customers' choice or customer choice? Which one is correct here? Or both options are correct? Thank you!

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 25/11/2020 - 07:23

In reply to by HelenHelen15

Permalink

Hello HelenHelen15,

Both forms could be correct in different contexts and I'd really need to know the specific situation you want to use this in to make a good recommendation. But in general, 'customer choice' is probably better when you aren't talking about a specific group of customers, and 'customers' choice' is probably better when you do have a specific group in mind.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Yolanda on Mon, 26/10/2020 - 14:36

Permalink
Hello, I have a doubt, can we say: boys’s shoes and boys’ shoes? Are both options possible or only the second one? Many thanks, Yolanda

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 26/10/2020 - 15:21

In reply to by Yolanda

Permalink

Hello Yolanda,

I would recommend 'boys' shoes', though I'm sure you could find 'boys shoes' or 'boy's shoes' if you did an internet search. 'boys's' is not correct in any situation. 

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sneixx on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 10:33

Permalink
Hi there, I want to ask a question. Is it correct to say 1. planet atmosphere or planet's atmosphere? 2. students achievement or students' achievement? 3. school responsibility or school's responsibility? Thank you

Hello sneixx,

In the first and second examples I would say planet's and students' (i.e. with the apostrophes) are the correct options.

In the third example it is not clear. I think school's is more likely, but both are possible, depending on the speaker's intention and the context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by xeesid on Tue, 18/08/2020 - 06:50

Permalink
Dear sir, As far as I know, many nouns work as an 'adjective' too. Like: It was a good education system. The word 'education' seems to work here as an adjective. Now, my question is about the following: Wednesday sunset was good. [Is this sentence incorrect?] Do we really need to add an apostrophe? Does it have to be 'Wednesday's sunset'? I wish to confirm this.

Hello xeesid,

English is a very flexible language and words can have multiple functions. Generally, however, linguists look at forms like education system as compound nouns rather than an adjective + noun form. Compound nouns in English can be single words (keyboard, bookcase etc.), they can be hyphenated (ice-cream, president-elect etc.) or they can be two words (coffee table, forest fire etc.).

 

You can read more about compound nouns here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_compound#Compound_nouns

 

As far as Wednesday goes, you have two choices. You can use the apostrophe and this would be the most common form;

Wednesday's sunset was beautiful.

You can also use Wednesday as an adjective. In this case, you would need to use 'the':

The Wednesday sunset was beautiful.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by re_nez on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 11:09

Permalink
Hello! Do we add ‘s or ‘ to singular nouns ending in -s? e.g.: My boss’s wife. / My boss’ wife. If the latter is correct, how do I pronounce it? [s] or [siz]

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 15:10

In reply to by re_nez

Permalink

Hello re_nez

You can find both spellings out there, but the one we use at the British Council is 'boss's'. Both are pronounced the same: /'bɒ sɪz/.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Teacher Lizzy on Tue, 28/04/2020 - 04:35

Permalink
The difference between the two stores is their selection of products. is their products’ selection of the two stores I have this example and the exam tell you that the right answer is selection of products instead of using the apostrophe s ('s) possession. I don't know how to tell the difference. Could you help me, please

Hello Teacher Lizzy

That's correct: 'selection of products' is correct. The possessive 's is not normally used when the possessor is not a person, animal or group of living beings.

There are many exceptions to this rule, but 'products' is not one of them. You can see a longer explanation of this, with more examples, in the Cambridge Dictionary.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rose on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 11:17

Permalink
hello sir, i saw in youtube and other website that it was written Charles's, Fransis's... i thought the right forms were Charles' and Fransis' repeectively. Can you please make it clear to me why is that right and me wrong?? Thank you!!

Hello rose

Since there is no single official authority regarding what is correct in English, there is some disagreement about this (and other) points of spelling and punctuation in English. Most of these points are minor and do not cause any confusion.

We have included the form we prefer, but you are welcome to use others that other reliable sources consider correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Keila_Blizzard on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 00:57

Permalink
Do I need assistance, If there's kind of an error? I put the same answer's in the Possessive nouns 1 and possessive nouns 2 but apparently don't recognized as the same answers: Excercise 3. That dog belongs to the family next door. = It's my family's' dog. Exercise 8. The party was organized by the Smith family. = It was the Smiths' party. I will appreciate the help. .

Hello Keila_Blizzard

The correct answer for 3 is "neighbours' dog" and for 8 "Smiths' party". There was an error with 8, but I've just fixed it.

By the way, after you check your answers, you can press the 'Check Answers' button to see the correct answers.

Thanks for pointing this out to us.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Moaz al halabi on Sat, 01/02/2020 - 05:05

Permalink
Hello! Can i say ''it's an ignorant's post'' as I'm referring to the guy who wrote it as an ignorant, or is it more correct to say " it's an ignorant post" as the post itself showing ignorance. thanks in advance.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 01/02/2020 - 08:39

In reply to by Moaz al halabi

Permalink

Hello Moaz al halabi,

The word 'ignorant' is an adjective, not a noun, so only the second sentence (an ignorant post) is grammatically correct.

The word to describe a person is 'ignoramus', but it is a very rarely used word and will sound archaic to most people.

 

I should point out that the word 'ignorant' is very strong and its use is likely to cause offence or anger. Unless that is your goal then something more tactful might be more effective.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

No nothing of the kind, my friend showed me a stauts and said 'ignorant's post', so we were just discussing about whether it's correct or not. Have a good day and thanks again

Submitted by Azam on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 20:10

Permalink
Hi. I have a question. Which one is correct? Annie's and Ted's teacher Or Annie and Ted's teacher

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 08/01/2020 - 07:34

In reply to by Azam

Permalink

Hello Azam

The second one is correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by llin on Tue, 05/11/2019 - 02:37

Permalink
Hi, I think the "it's" at the end is incorrectly used to show possessiveness taking place of a noun. Shouldn't it be "its"? "it's" is a contraction form of "it is." Thanks, llin

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 05/11/2019 - 07:30

In reply to by llin

Permalink

Hi llin,

It's is correct here. The meaning is 'The coat is my wife's', but we replace 'The coat' with 'It' to avoid repetition:

Whose coat is this?

The coat is my wife's > It is my wife's > It's my wife's.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vane0610 on Sat, 02/11/2019 - 01:53

Permalink
Hello, The party was organised by the Smith family. = It was the ___ party. In the test, the answer correct is: Smiths' my answer is: Smith's I dont'n why is that so? Best

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 02/11/2019 - 18:42

In reply to by Vane0610

Permalink

Hello Vane0610

When we speak about a family by using their surname, for example 'Smith', we can say 'the Smith family' or, more commonly, 'the Smiths' -- notice that this is plural. This is why the correct answer is Smiths' and not Smith's in this context.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by zainab Shah on Tue, 19/02/2019 - 16:28

Permalink
correct these sentences by using possessive noun? 1) the chairs' legs are broken. 2) this is my locks' key. 3) the cap of the boy is red. 4)have you seen the nest of a bird? 5) the gardens' gate is not open. please help me to solve these sentences

Hello zainab Shah

Is this perhaps homework? We're teachers here at LearnEnglish and believe that homework is important, so we're not keen on answering such questions.

One rule that might help you is that when the possessor is a person, animal or group of people, we usually use 's instead of the word of to indicate possession. This means that sentence 3 should be 'The boy's cap is red', for example, and in 4 you should say 'bird's nest'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by soniae on Wed, 06/02/2019 - 21:50

Permalink
Good evening. Is "the school's name is St Mary's" an acceptable alternative to " The name of the school is St. Mary's" ?

Hello soniae

Yes, it is. We tend to use the possessive s when the possessor is a person or animal or some kind of group of living beings (e.g. a country, a government or a school).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tara on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 13:33

Permalink
Which sentence is correct? The protagonist's, Bob, role is diverse. OR The protagonist, Bob's, role is diverse.

Hi Tara

I would recommend avoiding the issue by saying 'The role of the protagonist, Bob, is diverse' or 'The protagonist's role is diverse. For example, Bob ...'

If you do an internet search for 'possessives with appositive forms' or something similar, you can find people making different suggestions about this sort of issue. I'm not a trained professional editor, but I think many would make the same recommendation I have.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aislin on Sun, 07/10/2018 - 16:49

Permalink
Hello! Would you mind helping me with an important question: using articles with possessives? I see different things in different textbooks, as usually ((( For example: Michael drove his friend’s car. (There we have a demonstrative pronoun HIS before the noun in possessive case). But would these sentenses be correct as well: Michael drove the friend’s car / Michael drove a friend’s car? I used to think that we do not use articles with possessives... Thank you in advance for you reply!

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 07/10/2018 - 17:55

In reply to by Aislin

Permalink

Hello Aislin,

In the sentence you cite, 'his' is a possessive adjective (it modifies 'friend'), not a demonstrative pronoun. Both of the sentences you ask about are grammatically correct, but couldn't just replace the one you asked about. If you used the first one, for example, 'the' implies that the friend hasn't been identified and 'a' implies that the friend hasn't been mentioned yet.

Does that help you make sense of it?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kapel on Sat, 03/03/2018 - 08:08

Permalink
Which one of these is correct and why? The keys of car The car keys The car’s keys

Hello kapel,

The compound noun 'car keys' is the correct form here. This is simply the way native speakers have come to speak about this item that is so important for so many of us.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team