Possessive Nouns: Essential Points

We pointed before that good grammar can be essential to your success at work or studies, as well as in personal life. In one of the posts concerning grammar you can read about some basic grammar rules that you should remember at all times. One of the rules was about possessive nouns since it is where people often make mistakes. That’s why the topic of today’s post deals with this language element. The wrong usage of this seemingly easy grammatical construction robbed many students a good grade for their essay. Thus it is better if you secure your good grades by ordering professional editing and proofreading help. Just upload your file online whenever you have time and the editing will be done quickly and for a very friendly price. Check out some of our free essay samples to see how edited paper looks like.

Tricky possessive nouns

Possessive nouns may seem like the easiest grammatical construction to form. Just add an apostrophe and –s, and the job is done. But this misleading simplicity could rob you of good grades for your papers or cost you a good impression you could make on your prospective employer. The possessive nouns can be tricky and there are some points about them that your language class teachers didn’t tell you about. There is still much confusion and arguments about some of the usage aspects and we will try to clarify everything to you.

What a possessive noun is and how it functions

Let’s look what any possessive noun is made of. First of all, to form a possessive noun you will need an apostrophe. Apostrophe is a punctuation mark used to indicate ownership or omission of some letters. Second of all, another crucial element for this construction is a noun. This noun can name a person, animal, idea, thing or place. You can find some explanation about the possessive with many examples at this grammar portal. Possessive nouns perform particular functions, such as:

  • Ownership or belonging. It indicated that somebody owns something. E.g.: The cat’s toy; The driver’s key;
  • Indication of somebody’s place of work, studies, leisure, etc. For example: The Megan’s library; Here is David’s office;
  • Indication of relationship. E.g.: Mary’s father will drive you home; Christian’s girlfriend is an artist;
  • Expression of abstract concepts, such as feelings, beliefs, ideas, etc. For example: Kathy’s motivation inspired other people; The soldier’s grief was bigger than fear;
  • Reference to the ownership of restaurants, shops, hotels, colleges, etc. For example: We went to Benny’s for a few drinks; I have an appointment at the hairdresser’s for tomorrow.

Essential points of how to form a possessive

The possessive can be formed in different ways, which depend on the noun, whether it is singular, plural or has an –s ending. If you want to read more about the possessive nouns then you should visit this page. Right now we will revise some essential points regarding the use and forming of possessive nouns.

Point #1: For all singular nouns use an apostrophe and –s. Even when the word ends with –s, -x or –z you should also use an apostrophe and –s. This is where most of the students make mistakes, when they see a noun that ends with –s, without thinking much they just put an apostrophe at the end not adding another –s. Remember this rule and don’t make this mistake in your writing. E.g.: The grandmother’s chair; Martin Amis’s bestseller novel;

Point #2: For plural nouns use an apostrophe and –s. If the plural noun ends with –s, just put apostrophe at the end of the word without adding another –s. This is the main difference between forming plural and singular possessives. Thus pay attention whether the noun is plural or just a singular that ends with –s to avoid making a mistake. Here you can listen to a very interesting and informative lecture about the possessive. For example: Children’s playground; The classes’ syllabus were not written yet;

Point #3: To indicate a joint possession, when something belongs to more than one person, put an apostrophe at the end of the very last noun. For example: Mother and father’s car; Andy and Lisa’s children;

Point #4: To indicate separate ownership place an apostrophe after each noun, like in: Diana’s and Nell’s dresses; Mother’s and father’s lap tops;

Point #5: In case of compound or hyphenated nouns place an apostrophe after the last word. For example: Sister-in-law’s new house; The dog stared at the washing machine’s little window;

Point #6: This point deals with personal pronouns like his, mine, her, etc. All of such pronouns already indicate the possession and don’t require additional apostrophe or –s. E.g.: Did you listen to his new song? Her fashion style was immaculate;

Point #7: Another wide-spread error concerns the proper use of its and it’s. We should remember that its is a regular personal pronoun such as mine, her, their, and other. And as we learned from the point above — personal pronouns don’t require an apostrophe and –s. The it’s construction is a contraction, a shortened form of it is, which is a pronoun and a verb and has nothing to do with possession or ownership. If you still think you might confuse the two in the future, just remember that it’s is always a short form of it is.

The possessive form as any other grammatical construction is always easier to learn on practice. In this case you can find many exercise options online. For instance, you might like this web site that offers grammatical information about the possessives as well as some quizzes to strengthen your knowledge.

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