English grammar

Module 1, Nouns, Lesson 8:

Possessive Nouns

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English grammar

Definition: Possessive nouns show ownership. Possessive comes from the same root as possession, something you own.

Singular Possessives

Add 's to singular words to show possession.

Dog's collar sister's backpack car's engine
(dog  +  's) (sister  +  's) (car  +  's)

If a singular word ends in s, it is still necessary to add 's.

Charles's sneakers Bess's dresses bus's tires
(Charles  +  's) (Bess  +  's) (bus  +  's)

Plural Possessives

If you have added an s to make a word plural (for example, cat ⇒ cats), adding 's will sound ridiculous (cats's). In that case, add only the apostrophe to the end of the word.

Dogs' collars sisters' backpacks cars' engines
(dogs  +  ') (sisters  +  ') (cars  +  ')

Just like singular possessives, plural possessives that don't end in s add 's.

Children's homework fish's bowls octopi's tentacles
(children  +  's) (fish  +  's) (octopi  +  's)
Hint:
Look at the ending in front of the apostrophe to see if the word is singular or plural.
One dog|'s tail (One dog has one tail.)
Two dogs|' tails (Two dogs have two tails.)

If two people own something together, use an 's after the second person only.

Joe and Mary's car is new. (Both Joe and Mary own the car.)

If two people own two separate things, add 's to each name.

Laurie's and Megan's nails are painted the same color. (Each girl has her own nails.)

You may find that certain names ending in s add only an apostrophe. That rule is somewhat old-fashioned. However, some names, such as Jesus, Moses, Achilles, and Charles Dickens (historical names that end in a z sound), can end with either an apostrophe or 's.

Jesus' parables were instructional stories. Jesus's parables were instructional stories.
Moses' first tablets were broken. Moses's first tablets were broken.

Some people prefer to use only the apostrophe, but because we usually pronounce the extra s, adding 's is correct as well.

Note:
Possessive nouns act as adjectives in sentences. These nouns modify the nouns that follow them. If you want more information on this topic, you can look at Pronouns, Lesson 2 and Modifiers: Adjectives and Adverbs, Lesson 2.

Practice What You've Learned

English grammar

Part 1

Directions:
Decide whether the underlined noun should be possessive or not.
1.
My uncle boat is docked near our home.
possessive / not possessive
2.
Three squirrels ran around crazily in our backyard.
possessive / not possessive
3.
I think my sister new dress is very fancy.
possessive / not possessive
4.
My favorite snack is pistachios.
possessive / not possessive
5.
When we visited Rome, the hotel room balcony had a great view of the ancient ruins.
possessive / not possessive
6.
Our new television does not have Internet capability.
possessive / not possessive
7.
After the rain, we found that the water in the planter had overflowed.
possessive / not possessive
8.
My pet cat favorite activity is chasing squirrels.
possessive / not possessive
9.
Leo new car is a sportscar.
possessive / not possessive
10.
That mongoose is a scary animal.
possessive / not possessive

Part 2

Directions:
Correct the following sentences using possessive nouns. Click once to place the apostrophe before the s, and twice to place it after the s.
11.
MyMy'sMys' twotwo'stwos' friendsfriend'sfriends' backpacksbackpack'sbackpacks' areare'sares' inin'sins' thethe'sthes' classroomclassroom'sclassrooms'.
12.
TheThe'sThes' twotwo'stwos' detectivesdetective'sdetectives' notebooksnotebook'snotebooks' heldheld'shelds' thethe'sthes' cluesclue'sclues' toto'stos' solvesolve'ssolves' thethe'sthes' mysterymystery'smysterys'.
13.
WhenWhen'sWhens' II'sIs' blewblew'sblews', thethe'sthes' threethree'sthrees' candlescandle'scandles' flamesflame'sflames' wentwent'swents' outout'souts'.
14.
WeWe'sWes' watchedwatched'swatcheds' thethe'sthes' elephantselephant'selephants' trunkstrunk'strunks' drenchdrench'sdrenchs' thethe'sthes' zookeeperzookeeper'szookeepers'.
15.
MyMy'sMys' friendfriend'sfriends' GusGus'sGus'Guss' uncleuncle'suncles' isis'sis' anan'sans' astronautastronaut'sastronauts'.
16.
BeBe'sBes' carefulcareful'scarefuls', thethe'sthes' doordoor'sdoors' toto'stos' thethe'sthes' leftleft'slefts' isis'sis' thethe'sthes' mensmen'smens' roomroom'srooms'.
17.
MyMy'sMys' computerscomputer'scomputers' memorymemory'smemorys' isis'sis' fullfull'sfulls'. II'sIs' needneed'sneeds' aa'sas' biggerbigger'sbiggers' hardhard'shards' drivedrive'sdrives'.
18.
WhenWhen'sWhens' wewe'swes' checkedchecked'scheckeds' thethe'sthes' childrenschildren'schildrens' backpacksbackpack'sbackpacks', theythey'stheys' werewere'sweres' allall'salls' therethere'stheres'.
19.
DennisDennis'sDennis' fatherfather'sfathers' toldtold'stolds' himhim'shims' notnot'snots' toto'stos' staystay'sstays' outout'souts' latelate'slates'.
20.
MyMy'sMys' remoteremote'sremotes' controlscontrol'scontrols' batteriesbatterie'sbatteries' havehave'shaves' dieddied'sdieds'.
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