Caleb S.
Caleb S.

Possessive Pronouns: Definition & Examples

13 min read

Published on: Jun 27, 2024

Last updated on: Jun 28, 2024

possessive pronouns

Let’s Picture A Scenario: You're having lunch with your friend Alex.

"Hey, is that your sandwich?" you ask, pointing to the delicious-looking snack in Alex's hand.

"Yep! This is my sandwich. And is that apple yours?" Alex replies, glancing at the fruit on your tray.

"Yes, it's mine. But wait, where's Jess's cookie? I thought it was hers," you say, looking around.

"Oh, she said we could share it. So now, it's ours!" Alex grins.

In this simple lunchtime chat, you and Alex used possessive pronouns without even realizing it! 

Words like "yours," "mine," "hers," and "ours" are all possessive pronouns. They help us show who owns what clearly and concisely.

In this blog, we'll explore how to use them correctly, avoid common mistakes, and make your grammar better. 

Let's go!

What is A Possessive Pronoun?

According to Merriam-Webster, a possessive pronoun is defined as 

"A pronoun that derives from a personal pronoun and denotes possession and analogous relationships."

In simpler terms, possessive pronouns help us indicate that something belongs to someone without repeating names or nouns

For example, instead of saying "the book of Maria," we can say "her book." 

Here are some common possessive pronouns list:

  • Mine
  • Yours
  • His 
  • Her
  • Its
  • Ours
  • Theirs

Each pronoun corresponds to the person or people who own something, making it easy to indicate possession concisely. 

Possessive Pronouns Examples

To understand possessive pronouns better, let's look at some examples in sentences. 

Singular Possessive Pronouns

  • Mine:
    • "This book is mine." (replaces the noun "book" to indicate ownership)
  • Yours:
    • "Is this pen yours?" (replaces the noun "pen" to indicate ownership)
  • His:
    • "The jacket is his." (replaces the noun "jacket" to indicate ownership)
  • Hers:
    • "The hat is hers." (replaces the noun "hat" to indicate ownership)
  • Its:
    • "The company increased its profits." (indicates ownership of profits by the company)

Plural Possessive Pronouns

  • Ours:
    • "The house is ours." (replaces the noun "house" to indicate ownership)
  • Yours (plural form):
    • "Is this project yours?" (replaces the noun "project" to indicate ownership)
  • Theirs:
    • "The car is theirs." (replaces the noun "car" to indicate ownership)

Types of Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns come in two main types: 

  • Dependent (or adjectival) 
  • Independent (or absolute) 

Understanding the difference between these types is key to using them correctly in sentences.

Dependent (Adjectival) Possessive Pronouns 

Dependent possessive pronouns function as adjectives and are used before nouns to show ownership. They cannot stand alone and must be followed by the noun they modify. 

Here are the dependent possessive pronouns:

  • My: "This is my book."
  • Your: "Is this your phone?"
  • His: "That is his jacket."
  • Her: "This is her pen."
  • Its: "The dog wagged its tail."
  • Our: "This is our house."
  • Their: "That is their car."

Independent (Absolute) Possessive Pronouns

Independent possessive pronouns stand-alone and replace a noun phrase, indicating ownership without needing a noun to follow them. 

Here are the independent possessive pronouns:

  • Mine: "The book is mine."
  • Yours: "The phone is yours."
  • His: "The jacket is his."
  • Hers: "The pen is hers."
  • Its: (rarely used independently)
  • Ours: "The house is ours."
  • Theirs: "The car is theirs."

Possessive Pronouns vs. Possessive Adjectives

Understanding the difference between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives is key to using them correctly. Both indicate ownership, but they function differently in sentences.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns stand alone in a sentence and replace nouns to indicate ownership. They make sentences less repetitive and more concise.

Common possessive pronouns include mine, yours, his, hers, Its, ours, theirs.

Possessive Adjectives 

Possessive adjectives modify nouns by indicating ownership. They come before the nouns they modify and cannot stand alone.

Common possessive adjectives include my, your, his, her, its, our, their.

Examples 

How to Use Possessive Pronouns 

Using possessive pronouns correctly is essential for clear and concise communication. Here’s a guide on how to use them effectively:

  1. Replace Noun Phrases: Possessive pronouns replace noun phrases to indicate ownership. This makes sentences shorter and easier to understand.
    • "This is the book of John.
    • "This book is his." 
  2. Match the Pronoun to the Owner: Choose the possessive pronoun that corresponds to the owner. For example: 
    • Yours: "Is this coat yours?"
    • Ours: "The house is ours."
  3. Use in Questions: Possessive pronouns are often used in questions to inquire about ownership:
    • "Is this pen yours?"
    • "Which book is hers?"
  4. Avoid Redundancy: Make sure to avoid repetition in the noun that the possessive pronoun replaces:
    • "This is her her book." 
    • "This is hers.
  5. Use in Compound Sentences: In compound sentences, possessive pronouns help maintain clarity:
    • "John has a laptop, and it is his."
    • "We have a project, and it is ours."
  6. Contextual Usage: Use possessive pronouns to maintain the context of the conversation or writing:
    • "I found a wallet. Is it yours?"
    • "They brought their dog. The dog wagged its tail."

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Possessive Pronouns

Using possessive pronouns correctly can sometimes be tricky. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for and tips on how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: Confusing Possessive Pronouns with Possessive Adjectives

Using a possessive adjective where a possessive pronoun is needed.

  • Incorrect: "This book is my." 
  • Correct: "This book is mine." 

Tip ?: Remember, possessive pronouns stand alone, while possessive adjectives modify nouns.

Mistake #2: Using Apostrophes Incorrectly

Adding an apostrophe to possessive pronouns.

  • Incorrect: "The book is her's." 
  • Correct: "The book is hers." 

Mistake #3: Incorrect Pronoun Agreement

Using the wrong possessive pronoun for the subject.

  • Incorrect: "Each student must bring their book." (when referring to a single student) 
  • Correct: "Each student must bring his or her book." 

Tip ?: Ensure that the possessive pronoun agrees with the noun it replaces in both number and gender.

Mistake #4: Misusing "Its" and "It's"

Confusing the possessive pronoun "its" with the contraction "it's" (it is).

  • Incorrect: "The dog wagged it's tail." 
  • Correct: "The dog wagged its tail." 

Tip ?: Remember, "it's" means "it is" or "it has," while "its" shows possession.

Mistake #5: Ambiguity

Using a possessive pronoun without a clear antecedent.

  • Incorrect: "They said it was theirs." (Who is "they" and what is "it"?)
  • Correct: "The students said the book was theirs." 

Possessive Pronouns Worksheet

Test your knowledge with possessive pronouns exercises below. Fill in the blanks with the correct possessive pronouns.

Exercise 1: Replace the Noun Phrases

  1. This book belongs to me. This book is _______.
  2. That car belongs to you. That car is _______.
  3. These shoes belong to her. These shoes are _______.
  4. The idea was his. The idea was _______.
  5. The decision is theirs. The decision is _______.
  6. The house belongs to us. The house is _______.

Exercise 2: Choose the Correct Possessive Pronoun

  1. Is this notebook (yours / your)?
  2. The cat cleaned (its / it's) fur.
  3. I think this seat is (mine / my).
  4. The responsibility is (theirs / their).
  5. That toy is (his / he).

Exercise 3: Fill in the Blanks with the Correct Possessive Pronouns

  1. They forgot _______ keys at home.
  2. This cake is _______.
  3. The problem is _______. 
  4. The red bicycle is _______. 
  5. The mistake was _______.


Answer Key

Exercise 1: 

  1. mine
  2. yours
  3. hers
  4. his
  5. theirs
  6. ours

Exercise 2: 

  1. yours
  2. its
  3. mine
  4. theirs
  5. his

Exercise 3: 

  1. their
  2. ours
  3. his
  4. mine
  5. hers

All in all, in this blog we've explored possessive pronouns, their definition, usage, and distinctions from possessive adjectives. 

Additionally, we've looked and examples and highlighted common mistakes to avoid, ensuring your grammar is accurate and clear.

By studying this blog, you can confidently use possessive pronouns and improve your English language! 

You don't have to worry about grammar anymore, give our grammar checker a try! And if you are thinking “I need help writing an essay for free”, use MyEssayWriter.ai today! 

Continue Learning

If you want to learn more about academic writing, grammar, and related concepts, check out these blogs.

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Caleb S.

WRITTEN BY

Caleb S. (Mass Literature and Linguistics)

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at MyEssayWriter.ai, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at MyEssayWriter.ai, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

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