Possessive Adjectives & Pronouns

Learning how to express possession in English can be tricky for language learners. From confusion over nouns ending in -s to homophones such as its/it’s, your/you’re, and their/they’re/their, showing ownership often leads to errors in spelling and usage. One way to clear up some of the confusion is to present possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns in a chart, side by side, and teach the different sentence positions. Your learners will make fewer mistakes with words such as your and yours with our editor’s tips and chart!

Form & Meaning

Possessive adjectives and pronouns both show who an object belongs to.

Sentence Position

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives are always followed by a noun.

  • Do you want to borrow my pen?
  • That’s her jacket.
  • His car is new.
  • Their children are sleeping.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are never followed by a noun. They take the place of the noun. They function as the subject or object in a sentence, so they come either before or after a verb.

  • That must be your book because this one is mine.
  • We’re happy that this house is finally ours.
  • Yours is the one on the left.
  • His presentation wasn’t that great, but hers was.

Commonly Confused Words

Your / You’re

Your comes before a noun and shows possession.
You’re means you are and is the subject/verb of a sentence.

  • Is that your dog?
  • You’re not listening to me.

Their / They’re / There

Their comes before a noun and shows possession.
They’re means they are and is the subject/verb of a sentence.
There has many functions. Two of the most common are an indefinite subject and location.

  • Their bikes are locked in the garage.
  • They’re playing in the park.
  • There is milk in the fridge. / It’s over there.

Its / It’s

Its comes before a noun and shows possession.
It’s means it is and is the subject/verb of a sentence.

  • What’s wrong with its paw?
  • It’s not what it looks like.

Note that the possessive adjective its does not have a possessive pronoun counterpart.

  • The dog is eating from its bowl.
  • That bowl is its.

Practice

For more practice with possessive adjective and pronouns, as well as subject and object pronouns, try the Pronouns 1 lesson in our Grammar Practice Worksheets section.

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