Grammar-QuizzesNoun PhrasesDeterminers › Possessive Pronouns

Possessive Pronouns

Indicate a relationship

Dog walker
 

 

Pronouns → Subject, Determiner, Possessive Noun

POSSESSIVE DETERMINER

Use a subject pronoun with have in a simple statement of possession or ownership.  Use a genitive pronoun to express possession (my dog), a natural trait (his tail), a relationship (his mom).

We have a dog.  (pronoun)

Our dog is very clever.  (Determiner–possessive pronoun)

Lea has a chihuahua.

Her chihuahua is tiny.

Sammy has a golden retriever.

His golden retriever hunts ducks.

My sisters are raising a poodle.

Their poodle is doing calculus.

I have a dachshund. 

My dachshund is always eating.

The dog has a bed.

Its/her/his bed is over there.

POSSESSIVE NOUN

Use a possessive (genitive) subject pronoun to shorten a pronoun phrase when the relationship of the item has already been mentioned.

Ours is very clever.   ("our dog" – possessive noun)

Hers is tiny.  (her chihuahua)

His is a duck hunter.  (his golden retriever)

Theirs is doing calculus.  (their poodle)

Mine is always eating. (my dachshund)

Its/Hers/His is over there. (its bed)

 

More Info - Personal Pronouns  A Determiner

Also see Genitive Nouns (Possessive Nouns).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possessive Pronouns

Determiners / Pronouns

 

 

 

Determiners and Pronouns

POSSESSIVE DETERMINER (DEPENDENT)

A possessive determiner before a noun expresses a relationship such as possession (my dog), a natural trait (his tail), or a relationship (his mom) The pronoun is a dependent of the noun. Together they form the noun phrase.

NOUN PHRASE  

My dog

Your dog

Her dog

His dog

Its dog  (a robot?)

behaves well.

Our dog

Your dog

Their dog    

behaves well.

POSSESSIVE PRONOUN (INDEPENDENT)

A possessive pronoun takes the place of the possessive determiner and the noun. It refers back to a previously mention or understood noun. The pronoun is independent (stands as the noun phrase.)                       

PRONOUN  

Mine

Yours

Hers

His

Its  

behaves well.

Ours

Yours

Theirs

behaves well.

 

behave (V) – follow commands, orders, social rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possessive "Of" Phrases

Keeping both the determiner and the possessive marker

Josie
 

Possessive determiner vs. possessive "of" phrase

POSSESSIVE DETERMINER

A possessive determiner is placed before a noun (my, your, his, her, their, its, our). It expresses a number of relationships such as possession (my dog), a natural trait (his tail), a relationship (his mom).                                                      

Josie is my dog.   (definite)

Roxie is my girlfriend's dog.  (double possessive)

DETERMINER + NOUN + POSSESSIVE PRONOUN

A noun with an indefinite determiner (a, some or plural form) requires that the possessive personal pronoun be repositioned after the noun in an "of" phrase. (Only one determiner can be used before the noun.)

Josie is a dog of mine. (indefinite – one of possibly many)

*Josie is a my dog.   (Choose one marker!)

*Josie is a dog of me / of my / of mine.

Roxie is the dog of my girlfriend. (She has one.)

Roxie is a dog of my girlfriend's . (She has more than one.)

 

* marks incorrect usage / ~ requires a special context

Also see Huddleston 327 dependent genitives (my, his, her, their, etc.) / independent genitives (mine, his, hers, theirs, etc.); 472 "Genitives as complements".

 

 

 

Expressing a Relationship (using an object pronoun)

 
OF + POSSESSIVE PRONOUN

An "of" phrase with a possessive pronoun (of mine, of yours, of hers, of his, of theirs, of ours) is a placed after an indefinite noun that expresses relationship (friend, son, neighbor, classmate, etc.)           

BE + RELATIONSHIP NOUN (INDEFINITE)

I am a big fan of his / of hers. ("a fan" indefinite)

They are big fans of his / of hers. ("fans" indefinite)

They are some big fans of his / of hers. ("some fans" indefinite)

She is a daughter of his / of hers.

She is a sister of his / of hers.

She is a cousinof his / of hers. (more than one cousin)

OTHER VERBS

She found a dog of his. (He has more than one.)

They bought a dog of his.

I fed a dog of hers.

She trained a dog of ours.

OF  + PERSONAL PRONOUN

If the meaning of the clause expresses a relationship (e.g., friend, daughter, brother, husband, fan, employee) then a personal object pronoun may be used in the "of" phrase (of me, of you, of her, of him, of them, of us).

BE + RELATIONSHIP NOUN (INDEFINITE)

I am a big fan of him.

They are big fans of him.

They are some big fans of him.

She is a daughter of him.

She is a sister of him.

She is the mother of him. ("the"–definite He has one.)

OTHER VERBS

*She found a dog of him.

*They bought a dog of him.

*I fed a dog of her.

*She trained a dog of us.

 

* marks incorrect usage / ~ requires a special context

A possessive (genitive) may relate: body parts (his legs), family (his mother), owner (his dog), feeling (his anger), character (his honor), creator (his story), membership (his team), hierarchy (his boss, his assistant, his co-worker), natural source (its rays), included part (its wheel), time (its beginning), location (its position) and much more. (Huddleston 474)

Resources: Huddleston 472-4; Payne 8.3 "The GP Hypothesis", Swan 443, 405.

 

 

 

 

 

Impersonal Pronouns

You — One & They

 

 

 

One → You & They

YOU / ONE

You is used informally in place of one when making general statements— talking about anyone, at any time. You is directed to the listener. It does not include the speaker. You is informal when used as an impersonal pronoun.

You should exercise your dog

Your dog should get plenty of exercise.

One  should exercise one's dog.

One's dog should get plenty of exercise.

 
THEY  / THOSE PEOPLE (NOT US)

They is used informally in place of naming people or a group.  It refers to a vague group in another place, neighborhood (others), or to the authorities in charge. Using they instead of we distances the person from the group.

They don't like dogs there.  

Their dislike of dogs is unusual.

They say it will rain tomorrow.

Their prediction is for rain tomorrow.

They are raising taxes.

Their tax-hike is unacceptable.  (hike - rise)

 

One is often used in general statements when we are talking about anyone, at any time. One includes the speaker and the listener.  It is more formal than you.

 * not used / ~ requires context to understand the meaning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possessive Pronoun Agreement

Indefinite & Possessive

Naughty Dog
 

 

Possessive Pronoun Agreement with Indefinite Pronouns

INDEFINTE PRONOUN—SINGULAR PRONOUN

The singular indefinite pronoun agrees with the personal pronoun (when referring to itself.)

          pronoun refers to possessive
Every dog owner has his dog leash.

Each dog has his collar on.

One dog lost her collar.

Each dog wore his identification tags.

*None comes without its/her/his owner.

*Everyone has his/her clean-up bag ready.

QUANTITY EXPRESSION—PLURAL PRONOUN

The closest noun in the quantifier phrase agrees with the personal pronoun (when referring to itself.) 

                               pronoun refers to possessive
All of the owners bring water for their (own) dogs.

Some of us bring our lunches with us.

Half of you let your dogs bark.

Ten percent the owners play ball with their dogs.

None of the owners leave their trash on the beach.

A number of owners surf with their dogs.

 

* A plural pronoun (their) occurs in informal English.
Related pages: Pronoun agreement with quantifier phrases

 

 

 

 

 

Double Possessives

I, Me or My?

Ali and I
 

 

Double Possessive Pronoun Confusion 

COMMON ERROR

Use a genitive form to express a relationship between one person or item and another person or item. If both people share the same item, then only the second name in the pair is genitive. (Jill and my.  She and Jill's)

ONE PERSON – ONE RELATIONSHIP

* Me relationship is getting stronger. (object pronoun)

* Him relationship is getting stronger. (object prn)

* He / She / You relationship is getting stronger. (subject prn)

* Alison relationship is getting stronger. (proper noun)

TWO PEOPLE – ONE RELATIOHSHIP

* Me and Alison's relationship is getting stronger.

*My and Alisons relationship is getting stronger.

*Her and I's relationship is getting stronger.

*Alison and I's relationship is getting stronger. 

*I and Alison's relationship is getting stronger.

"Two Nouns as a Unit"

TWO PEOPLE – TWO RELATIOHSHIPS

*My and Alison's relationship is getting stronger.

(Use plural for two different relationships.)

 

SOLUTION

Don't use me in the subject position. (This is a common native-English speaker error.)  Customarily, one mentions oneself last in a coordinated pair of names (personal nouns).   (Jill and my.  not I and Jill's)

ONE PERSON – ONE RELATIONSHIP

My relationship is getting stronger.  (genitive prn)

His / Her / Your / Its relationship is getting stronger.

Alison's relationship is getting stronger. (genitive proper noun)

(Use the possessive form followed by a singular noun.)

TWO PEOPLE – ONE RELATIOHSHIP

Alison and my relationship is getting stronger.

Jim and Alison's relationship is getting stronger.

~The relationship of Alison and me is getting stronger. 

My relationship with Alison is getting stronger.

(Use a possessive form for the second name followed by a singular noun.)

TWO PEOPLE – TWO RELATIOHSHIPS

Alison's and my relationships are getting stronger.

Alison's and Jack's relationships are getting stronger.

(Use a possessive form for the both names followed by a plural noun.)

 

getting stronger–becoming stronger

~The relationship of Alison and me is getting stronger.  (correct but awkward sounding)  My relationship with Alison is getting stronger. (sounds better)

Also see Double Pronouns and Apostrophes (MLA 3.2.7d) (

Two nouns as a unit. Closely linked nouns are considered a single unit in forming the possessive when the entity "possessed" is the same for both; only the second element takes the possessive form.  — Chicago Manual of Style 7.24-6

Huddleston and Pullum's book is on English grammar.  (same book)

Jack and Jill's house is nearby. (or Jack's and Jill's for separate houses.)

Lewis and Clark's expedition to the Northwest... (same expedition)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

Tesla

 

 

Common Mistakes

ERROR

*The attraction of this car is it's sexy, sports-car design.    Pop-Q "Its"

With it's $110,000 price tag, the Tesla drives like a high-performance sport car.

SOLUTION

The attraction of this car is its sexy, sports-car design.
Pronoun →
its;  Contraction it + is → it's

With Tesla's $110,000 price tag, it drives like ... Place the pronoun after the noun it refers to.

 

See Pronoun Antecedent.

 

Resources

  • Aarts, Bas. Oxford Modern English Grammar. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.
  • Huddleston, Rodney and Geoffrey K. Pullum, et al. "The correlative comparative construction." The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. (Huddleston) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print. 
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 4th ed. 2009: Oxford University Press. Print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Indicating a relationship

dog

 

 

Pet Owners

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

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Labrador Retriever – a type of dog 

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  (perfect)

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is the smartest cat I have ever seen.

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Practice 2

Pronoun Agreement

keyboard
 

 

Computer Users

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check".

Review Quantity Phrases if needed.

 

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   Just step away from the computer!

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Dog Blog

Dog Beachleash
 

 

Read for Errors

Carmel by the Sea is a dogs dream.  Dogs can run to its heart's content on its beautiful, white, sandy, mile-long beach. Here, the residents truly believe that dogs are best friend. No leash is required. 

Dogs freely socialize with other dogs or play fetch with they toys in the surf.  The dogs tails wag high in the air, and there noses sniff the ocean air. Pet owners come from miles around for long, dog-tiring walks on this beach.

heart's content – complete inner satisfaction; as much as wanted

leash (N) – a long leather or fabric tie that attaches to a dog's collar.

play fetch – follow and bring back the ball

socialize (V) – meet, greet and interact with others

surf (N) – ocean water as it rolls onto the beach

wag (V) – move back and forth  (for tongues and tails)

 

 

 

 

Edit for errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

31.
Carmel by the Sea is a dogs dream.


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Dogs can run to its heart's content on its beautiful, white, sandy, mile-long beach.


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Here, the residents truly believe that dogs are best friend.


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Dogs freely socialize with other dogs or play fetch with they toys in the surf.


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The dogs' tails wag high in the air, and there noses sniff the ocean air.


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Pet owners come from miles around for long, dog-tiring walks on this beach.