Possessive Adjectives: Definition, Usage with Useful Examples

Possessive Adjectives! Learn how to use use possessive adjective in English with examples and ESL infographic.

What are Possessive Adjectives?

Possessive adjectives are words that modify the noun in order to demonstrate ownership. They are incredibly important and we use them in every conversation and paragraph without even realising.

How to Use Possessive Adjectives

Examples of possessive adjectives are yourhis and her. Here’s a quick example with the possessive adjective highlighted in bold:

  • Can I borrow your pen?

In this example, the sentence gives ownership of the pen through the word “your”. That is the possessive adjective. As with common adjectives, the word can be swapped out for another possessive adjective and the statement would still make sense, but it would change the ownership of the pen.

  • Can I borrow her pen?
  • Can I borrow their pen?

This isn’t a rule of thumb however; some other examples of possessive adjective wouldn’t fit into that sentence as they indicate first person ownership.

  • You can borrow my pen.
  • You can borrow our pen.

Possessive adjectives are generally classed as types of pronouns. This is because they replace the name of the person or thing that has ownership.

  • Can I borrow Dave’s pen?
  • Can I borrow their pen?

The possessive adjective replaces Dave’s name in the sentence in favour of a more ambiguous format. This is beneficial as it means writers don’t have to constantly refer back to the characters name but instead can substitute it to make the writing flow more smoothly.

It’s important not to get them confused with possessive pronouns. Possessive pronouns completely remove the noun from the sentence, instead of contributing to it as with the possessive adjective. For example:

  • Can I borrow your pen? Mine is broken.
  • My pen is broken. Can I borrow yours.

These examples demonstrate how a possessive pronoun would replace the noun (the pen) entirely. A possessive adjective must appear with a noun, usually before. Here are a few more examples of possessive adjectives being used in a sentence. The noun is underlined and the possessive adjective is in bold.

  • It was her money.
  • Whose line is it anyway?
  • I can’t believe she dropped her ice cream.

As you can see, the structure of the rest of the sentence doesn’t matter. A possessive adjective simply functions to provide ownership. A few more:

  • You can park your car in my garage.
  • Did you finish your homework?
  • The bike has lost its wheel.

Be careful when you use “its” as a possessive adjective that you don’t confuse it with “it’s” which is a contraction for “it is” and doesn’t indicate any ownership and causes the sentence to not make any grammatical sense. The same goes with mixing up “your” with “you’re”, “whose” with “who’s” and “their” with “they’re”. These are very common grammatical mistakes to make. Just remember that a possessive adjective won’t have an apostrophe.

In summary, possessive adjectives are short words that indicate ownership of a noun and the one you use is dependent on who has ownership of said noun. The entire list of possessive adjectives is as follows: my, your, her, his, their, our and its.

Possessive Adjectives | Infographic

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