Using Possessive Adjectives in English

This article will discuss using possessive adjectives in English. Possessive adjectives have a slightly different job to subject pronouns and object pronouns but still come under the same umbrella. Possessive adjectives are used instead of nouns and are belonging words. As they tell us who an item belongs to, they are similar to possessive pronouns.

Here is a list of the pronouns that will appear in this article.

  • my
  • your
  • his
  • her
  • its
  • their
  • our

USING POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES IN ENGLISH

THE ‘MY’ POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE

The ‘my’ possessive adjective is used when someone is talking about something that belongs to them.

Example 1

  • ‘That house belongs to me.’

This sentence tells us who is the owner of the house. Instead of using the ‘me’ pronoun, the sentence can be written like:

  • ‘That is my house.’

Example 2

  • ‘The child belongs to me.’
Using Possessive Adjectives in English - Simply Better English
Using Possessive Adjectives in English – Simply Better English

In the English language, people are more likely to use a possessive adjective for a sentence like this:

  • ‘This is my child.’

The possessive adjective goes before the item or person. This means the reader or listener knows who the item or person belongs to.

THE ‘YOUR’ POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE

The ‘your’ possessive adjective is normally used discussing something that belongs to the person you are directly communicating with, either male or female.

Example 3

  • ‘Does the hairbrush belong to you?’

This sentence can be written another way, with a possessive adjective used instead.

  • ‘Is this your hairbrush?’

Example 4

  • ‘The skateboard belongs to you.’

In this instance, a belonging word could be used instead.

  • ‘This is your skateboard.’

 

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English
Activity 1

Each sentence has a word missing. Place the correct possessive adjective in the sentences below.

  • This is … car. (The car belongs to the speaker.)
  • Is this … bottle of water? (The speaker is talking directly to someone.)
  • Can I see … work? (The speaker is talking directly to someone.)

THE ‘HIS’ POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE

The ‘his’ possessive adjective is used when discussing something that belongs to a male. The word ‘his’ can be used as a possessive pronoun and as a possessive adjective.

Example 5

  • ‘The toy is his.’

In this sentence, the word ‘his’ is used as a possessive pronoun.

  • ‘This is his toy.’

Now the word ‘his’ is used as a possessive adjective. We know this because the word ‘his’ has been placed before the item that belongs to the boy.

Example 6

  • ‘The bicycle belongs to Oliver.’

Now, if we want to tell the reader or listener who the bicycle belongs to, using a possessive adjective, we need to remember to place the belonging word before the noun.

  • ‘This is his bicycle.’

Also, if we want to describe the bicycle, the descriptive word should appear between the possessive adjective and the noun.

  • ‘This is his massive bicycle.’

THE ‘HER’ POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE

The ‘her’ possessive adjective is used when you are discussing something that belongs to a female. The word ‘her’ can be used as an object pronoun and as a possessive adjective.

Example 7

  • ‘Sophie told her a story.’

In this example, the word ‘her’ replaced the name of a female in this sentence.

  • ‘That is her room.’

Now the word ‘her’ is used as a belonging word. We know this because the room belongs to the female.

THE ‘ITS’ POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE

The ‘its’ possessive adjective is used when discussing something that belongs to an item or sometimes an animal.

Example 8

‘The dog’s paws are big.’

Using Possessive Adjectives in English - Simply Better English
Using Possessive Adjectives in English – Simply Better English

This sentence could be shortened by using a possessive adjective.

  • ‘Its paws are big.’

Note: be careful when using the word ‘its‘. Often ‘its’ is confused with the abbreviation ‘it’s’. Always ask yourself this question: does the noun belong to someone or something? If the answer is yes, then you need to use the word ‘its’. If the noun does not belong to someone or something, you need to use the abbreviation ‘it’s’.

Example 9

  • ‘Its stomach growled.’

Does the stomach belong to someone or something? Yes, it belongs to an animal.

  • ‘Its keypad was extraordinary.’

Does the keypad belong to someone or something? Yes, it belongs to a laptop.

  • ‘It’s Saturday.’

Does Saturday belong to someone or something? Not in this instance. The speaker or writer actually means: ‘It is Saturday.’

 When using the words ‘its’ and ‘it’s’, keep these examples in mind.

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English
Activity 2

The words in the sentences below are not in order. Write the sentences in the correct order.

  • her is bus. This
  • is his That mother.
  • eyes Its blue. are
  • looked drink Her delicious.

THE ‘THEIR’ POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE

The ‘their’ possessive adjective is used when something belongs belong to more than one person. It is also used when talking or writing about someone and an item belongs to them. 

Example 10

  • ‘The house belongs to the family.’
Using Possessive Adjectives in English - Simply Better English
Using Possessive Adjectives in English – Simply Better English

The possessive adjective could be used to rephrase this sentence.

  • ‘This is their house.’

THE ‘OUR’ POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE

The ‘our’ possessive adjective is also used when an item belongs to a group but when the speaker or writer is part of the group.

Example 11

  • ‘The keys belong to us.’

Again, in this instance, a possessive adjective could be used.

  • ‘These are our keys.’
Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English
Activity 3

Here are some sentences. Edit the sentences by using possessive adjectives. The sentences should have the same meaning.

  • The boat belongs to the captain.
  • The cabin belongs to the children.
  • The shoes belong to me.
  • This games console belongs to Jenifer and I.

RECAP

This article discussed using possessive adjectives in English. Possessive adjectives are belonging words and they tell us who or what belongs to someone or something. Remember, they are placed before the noun so that the reader or listener knows who it belongs to.

Here are the answers to the activities in the articles.  Feel free to write your answers in the comments section.

Activity 1
  • This is my car.
  • Is this your bottle of water?
  • Can I see your work?
Activity 2
  • This is her bus.
  • That is his mother.
  • Its eyes are blue.
  • Her drink looked delicious.
Activity 3
  • This is his/her boat.
  • This is their cabin.
  • These are my shoes.
  • This is our games console.

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