Possessive Pronouns vs Possessive Adjectives



Today's free English lesson is about the difference between possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns.

What are possessive pronouns?

The possessive pronouns are mine, yours, ours, his, hers, theirs, and its.

We use possessive pronouns in the place of subjects and objects to show possession. Unlike personal pronouns that have different subject pronouns and object pronouns, we can use possessive pronouns as both subjects and objects.

What are possessive adjectives? 

The possessive adjectives are my, your, our, his, her, their, and its.

We use possessive adjectives before nouns and noun phrases to show possession. 

Some examples

1) John and Mary: Our house is on the hill next to the lake. 
Max and Mona: Ours is at the bottom of the hill next to the sea.

In the sentence 'Our house is on the hill next to the lake', we use the possessive adjective (i.e. our) before the noun (i.e. house). 

In the sentence 'Ours is at the bottom of the hill next to the sea', we use the possessive pronoun (i.e. ours) as the subject of the sentence. 

Ours house is on the hill next to the lake. X 
Our is at the bottom of the hill next to the sea. X

2) John: Have you seen my car?
Max: No, I haven't. Have you seen mine? 

In the question 'Have you seen my car?', we use the possessive adjective (i.e. my) before the noun (i.e. car). 

In the question 'Have you seen mine?', we use the possessive pronoun (i.e mine) as the object of the question.

Have you seen mine car? X
Have you seen my? X

3) Mother: Johnny, your food is ready! James, I am still busy preparing yours.

In the sentence 'Johnny, your food is ready!', we use the possessive adjective (i.e. your) before the noun (i.e. food).

In the sentence 'James, I am still preparing yours.', we use the possessive pronoun (i.e. yours) as the object of the sentence. 

Johnny, yours food is ready! X
James, I am still preparing your. X

4) Glory: What does his jacket look like? 
Mona: His is black and made of polyester. 

In the question 'What does his jacket look like?', we use the possessive adjective (i.e. his) before the noun (i.e. jacket). 

In the sentence 'His is black and made of polyester.', we use the possessive pronoun (i.e. his) as the subject of the sentence. 

Please note: 'His' is both a possessive pronoun and a possessive adjective. If you use it before a noun or a noun phrase, it acts as a possessive adjective. If you use it in the place of a subject or an object, it acts as a possessive pronoun. 

5) John: This is my wife's new car. Her old car was written off after the accident. However, I prefer my car; It's more powerful. I don't like hers. It's too small and not nearly as powerful as mine. 

In the sentence 'Her old car was written off after the accident.', we use the possessive adjective (i.e. her) before the noun phrase (i.e. old car). 

In the sentence 'I don't like hers.', we use the possessive pronoun (i.e. hers) as the object of the sentence. 

Hers old car was written off after the accident. X
I don't like her. X  If John says 'I don't like her.', it means he doesn't like his wife. :-)

6) Lucy: Some of my friends live in Australia. I would love to visit their country. 
Suzy: Yes, theirs is a breathtakingly beautiful country.  

In the sentence 'I would like to visit their country.', we use the possessive adjective (i.e. their) before the noun (i.e. country). 

In the sentence 'Yes, theirs is a breathtakingly beautiful country.', we use the possessive pronoun (i.e. theirs) as the subject of the sentence. 

I would love to visit theirs country. X
Yes, their is a breathtakingly beautiful country. X

7) Please note: 'Its' is rarely used as a possessive pronoun. It is almost always used as a possessive adjective. 

Its claws are sharp, long, and extremely dangerous. 

'Its' is a possessive adjective. We use it before the noun 'claws'. 

Have you smelled its terrible odour? 

'Its' is a possessive adjective. We use it before the noun phrase 'terrible odour'.

Lesson Vocabulary

write off (phrasal verb) = If a car is so badly damaged that it cannot be repaired, it is written-off.

polyester (noun) = It is a kind of artificial cloth that is used to make clothes and dries quickly. 

odour (noun) = It usually refers to a bad smell. 

hill (noun)

lake (noun)

claws (noun)
Exercise

Your turn! Use each of the following in a sentence:

(1) your (2) yours (3) my (4) mine (5) her (6) hers 

Please leave your answers in the comments section and I will gladly give you some feedback. 

6 comments:

safaa said...

1- I have some money for your operation but yours cost a lot of money.
2- could you take my file with you?
be careful there is important paper in mine.
3- Her decision is too great ,but in my opinion hers isn't truth.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Thank you for doing the exercise, Safaa!

1) I have some money for your operation but yours cost a lot of money. X
I have some money for your operation but it costs a lot of money.
2) OK but please remember to start your sentences with capital letters.
be careful there is important paper in mine. X
I'm sorry! I don't understand what you mean.
3)Her decision is too great ,but in my opinion hers isn't truth. X
I'm sorry! I don't understand what you mean.

M. Hakim said...

Thanks Francois.I had a question to you about a sentence"Ours is a big house".I have got my answer going through this exercise.In this sentence'Ours'is a possessive pronoun.Here is my answer of the exercise.
(1) your-Your teaching techniques are really worthy of praise.
(2) yours-Our school is situated on the high way but yous is on the sub way.
(3) my-You are my teacher so I alway respect you.
(4) mine-This blue shirt is mine.
(5)He is my girl friend.Do you know her name. (6) hers-I have bought a house and my sister also has bought a new house.But I don't like hers.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

I am glad to hear that, M. Hakim! I actually wrote this as a response to your question but forgot to include it. Sorry about that! :-) Thanks for your answers.

1) Great!
2) Good but I think you made a typing mistake. Can you see it?
3) Great! Where is 'my'? :-)
4) Good!
5) He is my girl friend.Do you know her name.
She is my girlfriend. Do you know her name?
- A question should finish with a question mark.
- 'Girlfriend' is one word.
- 'She' used for a woman/girl. 'He' is used for a man/boy.
6) I have bought a house and my sister also has bought a new house. X
I have bought a house and my sister has also bought a new house. OR
My sister and I have both bought new houses. (This is more natural.)

mt203948 said...

- Can I take YOUR coat?
- This doesn't look like MY book; it must be YOURS.
- Have you done YOUR homework? I've finished MINE.
-Sue has lost HER pencil; perhaps you can lend her YOURS.
-I met a friend of HERS at a party last night.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Thanks for doing the exercise, mt203948!
Excellent! There are absolutely no mistakes!

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