When you’re starting to learn the details of English grammar, learning about possessives can be especially tricky.
And it’s definitely the case when you need to learn how to tell possessive adjectives and pronouns apart – because they can seem so similar!
So what is the difference between them? And how can you tell them apart? Let’s take a closer look.
Using possessive adjectives
Possessive adjectives – like other adjectives – are used to describe a noun in a sentence. Most importantly – they describe who something belongs to. Simple so far, right?
Some common ones that you will see include, “my”, “your”, “his”, “her” and “our”. When using them, they should always go before the noun.
Let’s take a look at some examples!
“My favourite colour is red.”
“Our holiday was cancelled.”
“He ate her food by mistake.”
Another important point to note is that adjectives do not have singular and plural versions – you use the same for both!
For example: “Those are my books” and “this is my book” both use the same possessive adjective, “my”.
Using possessive pronouns
Possessive pronouns can look very similar at first glance to adjectives – but they have a different meaning, and are used in a different way!
While they also show ownership, they can be used in place of a noun, to avoid repeating it in a sentence.
Some common possessive pronouns that you might come across include, “mine”, “yours” “his”, “hers”, and “ours”.
As you can see, these look almost the same as the possessive adjectives – with only an extra letter at the end! So how are they used differently?
Possessive pronouns are used after the noun, unlike adjectives – and they cannot be used before the noun at all.
Let’s look at some examples:
“This car is mine.”
“The tickets they took were actually ours.”
“The test results are hers.”
Like possessive adjectives, possessive pronouns are used in the same way for both single and plural nouns – there are no different forms.
Don’t get them mixed up!
As both forms are used to describe ownership, you can choose whether or not to use an adjective or a pronoun in a sentence, but you must be careful to make sure you have the right construction!
While they do look similar, possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives must not be mixed up, as this will not be correct. For example, if you say:
“The car is mine” – this is correct. But you cannot say “This is mine car”. Instead, you would say, “this is my car.”
It’s and its
Some possessive pronouns and adjectives are exactly the same – such as “its”. So how can you tell them apart in this case?
The important thing to consider is the construction of a sentence.
“This is its new home” – in this example, “its” is before the noun, so it must be an adjective. If the sentence had it after the noun, it would be a pronoun.
Another common mistake is mixing up “it’s” for “its”. “It’s” is actually a contraction of the phrase “it is” or “it has”, and cannot be used in the same way! While they sound completely the same, in written English you should always check that you have the correct form.
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