Mastering The Rules for Possessive Pronouns & Possessive Adjectives

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What are the Rules for Possessive Pronouns & Possessive Adjectives? One of the things that make English unique is its use of pronouns to show possession. To get these pronouns correct, you need to understand both possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns. This guide will help you do just that!

Rules for Possessive Pronouns & Possessive Adjectives

What is a possessive pronoun and possessive adjective?

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun in a sentence. Possessive pronouns (like “mine,” “yours,” and “theirs”) show that something belongs to someone. Possessive adjectives (like “my,” “your,” and “their”) also show possession, but they go in front of the nouns that belong to someone.

So, if we’re talking about a book that belongs to me, we can say “That’s my book” (using a possessive adjective) or “That book is mine” (using a possessive pronoun).

Here are some more examples:

  • Possessive Adjective: This is your chance to prove your worth.
  • Possessive Pronoun: That chance is yours.
  • Possessive Adjective: We didn’t have enough time to finish our project.
  • Possessive Pronoun: The project was ours.

When to use a Possessive Pronoun

Generally, you will want to use a possessive pronoun when the noun you are talking about is clear from context. For example, if we’re in the middle of a conversation about a book and I want to say that it belongs to me, using the pronoun “mine” would be more natural than saying “That book is mine.”

Similarly, if someone asks you “Whose book is this?” and you want to say that it belongs to you, you would say “It’s mine.”

There are also some cases where using a pronoun is just simpler and clearer.

  • For example, if you’re writing a paper and you want to refer to a book that you read, it would be easier to say “I found this information in one of my sources” than “I found this information in one of the sources I consulted.”

However, there are also cases where using a possessive pronoun might not be the best choice.

  • For example, if you’re writing a paper and you want to be very clear about which book you’re talking about, it might be better to use a possessive adjective.

You might say “I found this information in Smith’s book on the history of the United States” or “I found this information in Jones’s research on the effects of global warming.” This way, there’s no risk of confusion about which book you’re talking about.

When to use a Possessive Adjective

Possessive adjectives are usually used before a noun, as in “That’s my car.” They can also be used after a linking verb like “be,” “seem,” or “look.” For example, you might say “This project sounds like it’s going to be mine” or “Theirs is the best presentation.”

Possessive adjectives are also often used for emphasis.

  • For example, if you want to emphasize that a project is yours, you might say “I’m going to do this project by myself” or “I’m going to do this project alone.”

Possessive adjectives are also used in a few set phrases, such as “forgive and forget” and “have a heart.”

To summarize, here are the main differences between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives:

Possessive pronouns show possession without using a noun, while possessive adjectives go in front of a noun to show possession.

How to form possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives

In most cases, possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives are formed by adding “-s” to the end of a word.

  • For example, the pronoun “he” becomes “his,” the adjective “it” becomes “its,” and the pronoun “they” becomes “theirs.”

There are a few exceptions to this rule. The pronoun “I” becomes “mine,” the pronoun “you” becomes “yours,” and the pronoun “it” can also become “yours” in some cases.

The possessive pronouns “hers,” “ours,” and “yours” are always written with an apostrophe (‘). The other possessive pronouns (like “his” and “theirs”) are usually written without an apostrophe.

Examples of using possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives

There’s a big difference between using possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives. Possessive pronouns show ownership, while possessive adjectives modify nouns or pronoun.

  • For example, the possessive pronoun “mine” shows ownership: “That book is mine.” The possessive adjective “my” modifies a noun or pronoun: “This is my book.”

Here are some more examples of each:

  • Possessive Pronouns: yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs
  • Possessive Adjectives: your, his, her, its, our, their

When in doubt, use a possessive pronoun. It’s shorter and simpler than a possessive adjective + noun. For example, which sounds better? “That car is hers” or “That car is her car”? The first sentence is correct because “hers” is a possessive pronoun that shows ownership. The second sentence is incorrect because “her” is a possessive adjective that modifies the noun “car.”

If you’re unsure whether to use a pronoun or an adjective, it’s usually best to use a pronoun. It’s shorter and simpler, and it will usually be clear what you’re trying to say.

Rules for using apostrophes with possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives

There’s a lot of confusion about when to use an apostrophe to show possession, especially with pronouns. Here are the rules:

  • If the thing owned is singular, add ‘s
  • If it’s plural and doesn’t end in s, add ‘s
  • If it’s plural and does end in s, just add an apostrophe.

With possessive adjectives (my, your, hers, its, theirs) there’s no need for an apostrophe. So it would be “the dog wagged its tail” but “that’s my dog.” Clear as mud? The reason there’s so much confusion is that we’ve stopped using apostrophes to make things plural.

It used to be standard to write “the dog wagged it’s tail” and people knew that meant there was more than one dog. These days, we just write “dogs.” So when an apostrophe shows up, it feels like it must be possessive. That’s why we recommend only using them when you need to show possession.

Anytime you can use a word without an apostrophe, do so. It’ll save you grief and will help to reduce the amount of confusion in the world.

When to use whose vs. who’s

Most people know that the possessive form of “who” is “whose.” However, many people get tripped up by the fact that “who’s” can also be a contraction of “who is.” To decide which form to use, you need to think about whether you are using the word as a pronoun or an adjective.

If you are using it as a pronoun, then you will use “whose.”

  • For example, you might say, “Whose book is this?”

However, if you are using the word as an adjective, then you will use “who’s.”

  • For example, you might say, “Who’s going to the party?”

By keeping these simple rules in mind, you can avoid making a mistake with these two forms of the word.

What is the difference between its and it’s

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between its and it’s. It’s actually pretty simple: its is a possessive pronoun, like hers or yours, and it’s is a contraction of it is or it has.

  • For example, you might say “The cat slept through the storm, huddled close to its kittens.”

In this sentence, its is being used as a possessive pronoun, meaning that the cat owns the kittens.

On the other hand, you might say “It’s been raining for days and I’m starting to go stir-crazy.” In this sentence, it’s is a contraction for it is, meaning that the rain started some time ago and continues up to the present.

So when in doubt, just remember that its is possessive and it’s is a contraction!

How to use possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives with gerunds

Most people think of a pronoun as a word that stands in for a noun, like he, she, them, or us. Possessive pronouns do the same thing, but they also show ownership.

  • For example, if I’m talking about my car, I would use the possessive pronoun “mine.” If I’m talking about your car, I would use the possessive pronoun “yours.”

Possessive adjectives are a bit different. They don’t stand in for a noun; they modify a noun. In other words, they describe the noun.

  • For example, if I’m talking about my car, I would use the possessive adjective “my.” If I’m talking about your car, I would use the possessive adjective “your.”

Gerunds are words that end in -ing and are used as nouns.

  • For example, “I love swimming” or “Her favorite hobby is knitting.”
  • When you’re using a gerund as a noun, you can use either a possessive pronoun or a possessive adjective to show ownership. For example, you could say “That swimming pool is mine” or “This knitting project is yours.”

Just remember that a pronoun will stand in for the gerund, whereas an adjective will modify it. Other than that, there’s no difference in how you use them!

What are reflexive pronouns?

Reflexive pronouns are those that refer back to the subject of the sentence.

  • For example, “I” is a reflexive pronoun because it refers back to the subject, “I.”

Other reflexive pronouns include “myself,” “yourself,” “himself,” “herself,” and so on. We use reflexive pronouns when the subject of the sentence is also the object of the verb.

  • For example, “I washed myself” means that I was both the subject (the one doing the washing) and the object (the one being washed).

Reflexive pronouns can also be used for emphasis.

  • For example, “I did it myself” emphasizes that I did it, as opposed to someone else doing it.

Reflexive pronouns are often used in combination with other pronouns.

  • For example, “We gave ourselves a pat on the back” means that we patted each other’s backs.

In this sentence, the reflexive pronoun “ourselves” is used in combination with the pronoun “we.” This use of reflexive pronouns is known as intensive pronouns. Intensive pronouns are used to add emphasis to a noun or pronoun. They are not essential to the meaning of a sentence; rather, they serve to add intensity or emphasize a particular word or phrase.

  • For example, in the sentence “I did it myself,” the intensive pronoun “myself” adds emphasis to the fact that I did it (as opposed to someone else doing it).

Similarly, in the sentence “We gave ourselves a pat on the back,” the intensive pronoun “ourselves” emphasizes that we patted each other’s backs (as opposed to someone else doing it). Thus, reflexive pronouns can be used either alone or in combination with other pronouns, depending on their function in a particular sentence.

Examples of reflexive pronouns in sentences

We often use reflexive pronouns when we want to refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause. For example, if we’re talking about someone doing something to themselves, we might use a reflexive pronoun:

  • I hurt myself when I fell off the ladder.
  • The team captain injured himself in the game yesterday.
  • She cut herself while she was cooking.

In these sentences, the reflexive pronouns ( myself, himself and herself) are used to refer back to the subject of each sentence ( I, the team captain and she respectively).

We can also use reflexive pronouns when we want to emphasize that someone is doing something alone or without help:

  • I made this cake by myself.
  • After she hurt her foot, she had to walk home by herself. He did all the work by himself – we didn’t even know he was doing it!

We can also use reflexive pronouns for emphasis in other situations: Mom! I did it by myself! I don’t need any help! They chose me to do it by myself – they must really trust me!

As you can see, reflexive pronouns can be used in a variety of ways. Just remember that they always refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause in which they appear.

What is an intensive pronoun?

When you want to emphasize a particular noun or pronoun, you can use an intensive pronoun. An intensive pronoun is a type of pronoun that is used to emphasize its antecedent. The most common intensive pronouns are “himself,” “herself,” “myself,” “yourself,” and “themselves.”

To form an intensive pronoun, you take the appropriate reflexive pronoun (“himself,” “herself,” etc.) and add “-self” to it.

  • For example, if you wanted to emphasize the word “I” in a sentence, you could use the intensive pronoun “myself.”

Here are some other examples:

  • He himself wrote the entire novel in one month.
  • The athlete worked out by herself three times a week.
  • We saw the city for ourselves when we visited last year.
  • You will have to do it yourself if you want it done right.
  • They decided to build the house themselves instead of hiring a contractor.

As you can see, intensive pronouns always refer back to another noun or pronoun in the sentence (known as the antecedent). In each of the examples above, the antecedent is bolded and the intensive pronoun is italicized. Note that you can also use intensive pronouns with plural antecedents, as in the last example.

Intensive pronouns are not necessary for a sentence to make sense; they simply add emphasis. So, if you want to add emphasis to a particular noun or pronoun, remember that you can use an intensive pronoun. Just be sure that your sentence still makes sense without it!

How to use intensive pronouns in a sentence

Intensive pronouns are a type of pronoun that is used to add emphasis to the noun or pronoun that it is modifying. To use intensive pronouns correctly, you must first understand the difference between intensive and reflexive pronouns. reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object of a sentence are the same, while intensive pronouns are used when you want to add emphasis to the subject.

Some examples of intensive pronouns include: myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, oneself, and themselves. To use an intensive pronoun in a sentence, simply add it after the noun or pronoun that you want to emphasize.

  • For example: “I made this cake myself.” In this sentence, the intensive pronoun “myself” is used to emphasize that the speaker made the cake by themselves and not with help from anyone else.
  • Another example is: “They did it themselves.”

In this sentence, the intensive pronoun “themselves” is used to emphasize that they did it without help from anyone else. As you can see, using intensive pronouns can be a great way to add emphasis to a sentence. Just be sure to use them correctly!

Examples of common intensive pronouns

Intensive pronouns are similar to possessive pronouns, but they are used for emphasis instead of ownership. The most common intensive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. For example:

  • I made this cake myself. (for emphasis)
  • You can do it yourself. (for emphasis)
  • He did it himself. (for emphasis)
  • She did it herself. (for emphasis)
  • It did itself. (for emphasis)
  • We did it ourselves. (for emphasis)
  • You can do it yourselves. (for emphasis)
  • They did it themselves. (for emphasis)

Intensive pronouns are usually unnecessary, but they can be useful for adding emphasis.

Difference between reflexive and intensive pronouns

There’s a big difference between reflexive and intensive pronouns, and it’s important to understand the distinction. A reflexive pronoun is used when the subject of a sentence is also the object.

  • For example, “I hurt myself.”

An intensive pronoun is used for emphasis.

  • For example, “I did it myself.”

Reflexive pronouns are always spelled with -self or -selves, whereas intensive pronouns are not.

Conclusion

There you have it: a simple set of rules to follow when using possessive pronouns and adjectives. And while there may be exceptions to these rules, they’re usually few and far between.

So next time you find yourself unsure about which form of “possessive” to use, just ask yourself whether the thing being possessed is owned by one person or thing (in which case you should use a pronoun) or whether it’s describing one person or thing (in which case you should use an adjective).

By following these guidelines, you can rest assured that you’ll be using the correct form of possession 99% of the time.

FAQs

How do I use a possessive pronoun?

To use a possessive pronoun, you simply need to place it before the noun it modifies. For example:

  • The cat’s toys are new.
  • The cat’s toys are his.

How do I make a possessive adjective?

Making a possessive adjective is simple – you just need to add an apostrophe and an “s” to the end of the word. For example:

  • Bob’s computer is on the desk.
  • Bob’s computer is his.

What’s the difference between a possessive pronoun and a possessive adjective?

The main difference between a possessive pronoun and a possessive adjective is that a pronoun will typically come before the noun it modifies, while an adjective will usually come after the noun it modifies. For example:

  • The cat’s toys are new. (Pronoun)
  • The cat’s toys are his. (Adjective)

Can I use a possessive pronoun without a noun?

Yes, you can use a possessive pronoun without a noun, but it will usually be understood from context what you’re referring to. For example:

  • Bob’s computer is on the desk.
  • Is that Bob’s?

Can I use a possessive adjective without a noun?

Yes, you can use a possessive adjective without a noun, but it will usually be understood from context what you’re referring to. For example:

  • Bob’s computer is on the desk.
  • His computer is on the desk.

What are some common possessive pronouns?

Some common Possessive Pronouns are: mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs.

What are some common possessive adjectives?

Some common Possessive Adjectives are: my, your, his, her, its, our, their.

Can I use a possessive pronoun or adjective with a plural noun?

Yes, you can use a possessive pronoun or adjective with a plural noun. For example:

  • The cats’ toys are new.
  • The cats’ toys are their.

Can I use a possessive pronoun or adjective with an uncountable noun?

No, you cannot use a possessive pronoun or adjective with an uncountable noun because it would be incorrect grammar. For example:

  • I have two cups of coffee in my hand. (Incorrect)
  • I have two cups of coffee in my hands. (Correct)

What happens if I use a possessive pronoun or adjective with the wrong noun?

If you use a possessive pronoun or adjective with the wrong noun, it will be incorrect grammar. For example:

  • Bob gave his computer to me. (Correct)
  • Bob gave her computer to me. (Incorrect)

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