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Possessive Determiners

Possessive determiners are those that convey possession. Although these do not have the same syntactic allocation as true adjectives, they are referred to as possessive adjectives in some conventional English grammar.

Possessive Determiners

In English, instances comprise of possessive varieties of personal pronoun such as my, your, his, her, its, our, and their. However, it excludes forms like mine, yours, ours, and theirs which are utilized as possessive pronouns but not as determiners. Possessive determiners might include possessive forms derived from nouns, other pronouns, and noun phrases, such as George's, the lady's, somebody's, and the monarch of Europe's, when used to alter a subsequent noun.

Various linguistics require possessive determiners to conform with the word they alter. For instance in French language terms like mon, ma, mes, which are the masculine, feminine, singular, and plural are variants of the English term my.

Personal Pronoun Possessive Determiner
I My
You Your
He His
She Her
It Its
We Our
They Their

Using Possessive Determiners

Sentence structure

Possessive determiners are typically used before the noun they change. As an example:

  1. "Do you recognize Helen?" This is her uncle, Martin."
  2. "I'd appreciate it if you could return my novels as soon as possible."
  3. "Have they received their vouchers ?"
  4. "The Earth rotates on its axis."

If the noun is changed further by one or more other determiners, the possessive determiner comes first. As an example:

  1. "Do you remember Helen?" This is her elder uncle, Martin."
  2. "I'd appreciate it if you could return my two library novels as soon as possible."
  3. "Have they received their food vouchers ?"
  4. "The Earth rotates on its invisible axis."

(*Usage Note: It is usual to use an apostrophe with the term it to signify possession. It's a contraction used rather than writing it is, or it has. To indicate possession, it is ideal to use its without an apostrophe.)


Whose is a possessive determiner utilized in interrogative phrases to inquire about possession and indirect queries when the owner's identification is unclear. For instance

For instance

  1. "Whose jacket is this ?"
  2. "Do you remember whose suggestion this was ?"
  3. "I need to know whose scooty is this" They keep parking in front of my gate."

(*Usage Note: Similarly, to the issue with the term its, when we want to query about possession, we often use who's instead of whose. Who's is a abbreviated form of who is; to indicate possession, it is suggested to use the possessive determiner whose.

Possessive Determiners

The Possessive Apostrophe

By adding the possessive apostrophe + "s" to additional pronoun, noun, and a noun phrase, we can create possessive determiners (or just the apostrophe for plural nouns).

For instance,

  1. "Caring for one's children is extremely important."
  2. "Saurabh's car is parked outside; he must have already come."
  3. "The document contains the former Attorney General's proposals."
  4. "Our university takes the student's concerns extremely seriously."

Distinctions Between Possessive Pronouns And Possessive Determiners

Possessive determiners and possessive pronouns are frequently mistaken. Most common pronouns are mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs. However certain varieties overlap, there are significant differences amongst the two types of possessives.

Possessive pronouns can stand alone and replace a noun, while possessive determiners cannot. As an example:

  1. "Whose book is this ?" says Jenny
  2. "It's mine," says Sheena. (correct)
  3. "It's my," says Sheena. (incorrect)

The second instance is erroneous since possessive determiners like my can change but not replace a word. To utilize the possessive determiner, we must also include the noun novel, like in:

  1. "Whose novel is this?" says Jenny.
  2. "It's my novel," says Sheena. (correct)

However, possessive determiners produced with "-'s" can serve as both determiners and pronouns, as in:

  1. "Whose novel is this?" says Jenny.
  2. "It's Sheena's novel," says Mary. (correct)


"It's Sheena's," says Mary. (correct)

Possessive Determiners

Another contrast is that while the structure + possessive pronoun can be used to construct a possessive sentence, a possessive determiner provides the noun with a more specific meaning. Consider the following sentences:

  1. "A buddy of mine is going to go with them."
  2. "My buddy is going to go with them."

The first example suggests that either the person speaking is unsure which buddy will arrive or that the audience has never met the buddy. Whereas on the contrary, the second instance employs the possessive determiner my to explicitly change the noun buddy, giving the message that the person speaking has a specific buddy in mind. Also, it may imply that the listening person is well aware of this person.

Most common mistakes

  1. We never employ an apostrophe 's after the possessive pronouns
    1. Are these keys hers ?
    2. Are those keys her's? - Incorrect
  2. 's is not employed with the possessive pronoun its. It's means it is.
    1. The group is proud of its capability to excel continuously.
    2. The group is proud of it's capability to excel continuously.- Incorrect
  3. We never utilize another determiner with the possessive determiner.
    1. She is going to cut my hair this Sunday.
    2. She is going to cut the my hair this Sunday.- Incorrect
  4. We never employ a possessive determiner on its own. They are mostly found at the start of the noun phrase.
    1. That's not my phone. It's yours ( or it is your phone )
    2. That's not my phone. It's your. - Incorrect
  5. We never employ possessive pronouns before the noun.
    1. Lots of our colleagues were at the event.
    2. Lots of ours colleagues were at the event (Incorrect )

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