Possessive Pronouns Examples and Rules
If you happen to visit my home for any amount of time, you are bound to notice the sounds of young boys playing as they laugh, gesticulate, and eventually devolve into wrestling or screaming at each other. Little does my 5-year-old know that when he screams phrases like, “It’s mine!” at his older brothers, he is showing them possessive pronouns examples – a rather important part of the English language.
What Are Possessive Pronouns?
Pronouns are words that take the place of an understood or implied noun or noun phrase and usually become the subject of a sentence. I, you, he, she, it, we, and they are all pronouns.
- I got caught in traffic.
- Calah knew the meeting was at 9:00 a.m., so she left home early.
- They loved the new blog post.
So what’s a possessive pronoun? Possessive pronouns indicate the implied noun owns or possesses something. Typically, a possessive pronoun is used by itself, but it becomes a possessive adjective when used before a noun.
Possessive Pronouns Examples
Here is a possessive pronouns list of six pronouns that are used alone:
Notice how its does not fall into this particular category. That’s because its must always have a noun come after it.
When writing a sentence with a possessive pronoun, it’s important to understand how people usually use them. For example, it’s common for a possessive pronoun to be used as a one- or two-word response to a question using the interrogative whose, as in these possessive pronouns examples:
- “Whose blog is this?”
- “Whose awesome pen is this?”
- “Whose house is this?”
If you’re creating a full sentence using a possessive pronoun, the pronoun usually comes at the end of the sentence with a subject and verb before it.
- “Those amazing BKA pens are theirs.”
- “That car is hers.”
- “The prize is yours!”
Possessive Pronouns vs. Possessive Nouns
There are two distinct ways that possessive pronouns and possessive nouns differ:
- A possessive pronoun implies whom you are talking about as well as the object, while a possessive noun explicitly names the person or thing you are talking about.
- Possessive pronouns do not use apostrophes, while a possessive noun always uses apostrophes.
Both possessive pronouns and possessive nouns can be used similarly to form short responses to questions using the interrogative whose.
|Possessive Pronoun||Possessive Noun|
“It’s the Sorenson’s.”
Possessive Pronouns vs. Possessive Adjectives
The list of possessive adjectives contains slightly different words from possessive pronouns. Here is the list of possessive pronouns that function as adjectives:
One common point of confusion between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives is how to tell them apart. The most obvious difference is that a possessive adjective always has a noun following it and a possessive pronoun doesn’t.
- “That’s mine.”
- “It’s hers.”
- “That’s theirs.”
- “That’s my”
- “It’s her”
- “That’s their”
Its falls into the possessive adjective category simply because it must always have a noun following it. Possessive its never has an apostrophe.
- That’s its
- Its ability to swim came as a surprise.
- I returned the bird to its
You have probably also noticed that whose is another unique sort of possessive pronoun. Whose belongs to a special group of words called interrogative pronouns – commonly referred to as “question words” – which also include who, whom, what, and which.
How To Use Possessive Pronouns
To correctly use a possessive pronoun, you need to have an antecedent, which is the noun that comes before any pronouns and tells you whom the pronoun is referring to.
- Jon looked over the contract. He noticed the handwriting was definitely his.
In this possessive pronoun example, “Jon” is the antecedent, so when “he” is used in the next sentence, it is clear that the pronoun “he” is referring to “Jon.” We can also infer that the possessive pronoun “his” is referring to “Jon’s handwriting.” To avoid confusion, you should always establish a clear antecedent before using any type of pronoun. Consider the problem with this sentence:
- Angie and Jen both had awesome cars, but hers was nicer.
In this sentence, it’s not clear to whom “hers” is referring. Is it Angie’s car? Jen’s car? A third, unnamed person? Without context, the reader may never know unless this sentence is restructured to clearly state whose car was nicer.
Possessive Pronouns: Use It or Lose It
As shown in these possessive pronouns examples, the possessive pronoun is an essential part of the English language and makes it easier for writers (and speakers) to construct sentences that carry more information in fewer words. These special pronouns definitely have their place both in professional and informal writing. Do possessive pronouns make it easier for you to write? Is it possible to overuse them? Tell us what you think in the comments!
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Can we use the possessive pronouns before verb be
For example: it is not your pen yours is your bag?
You can use “yours” this way only if it is clear what “yours” is referring to. Let’s look at your example again:
It is not your pen. Yours is in your bag.
In this example, the possessive pronoun (yours) indirectly implies the subject (pen). But, this works only because you set up that you are referring to the pen.
This construction is often better used in speech, informal writing, and creative writing. I’d avoid it in professional writing, if possible. (Note: Technically, there is nothing wrong with writing like this, but I’ll always suggest that you aim for clarity in professional writing.)
English does not have possessive adjectives. The words my, your, his, her, its, our, and their are possessive determiners.
Possessive determiners are also known as possessive adjectives. Thanks for reading!