Monday Morning Grammar: Pronouns Part XII—Possession

In addition to subjective and objective, personal pronouns have a third case: possessive. Possessive pronouns show ownership. They are singular (my, your, his, etc.) or plural (our, your, their, etc.) in form.

The possessive pronouns my, our, your, his, her, its, and their act as adjectives that qualify nouns:

My friends Lindsey and Mitra visited from San Francisco this weekend.

They invited their friends out for sushi Friday night.

Then on Saturday morning, Mitra made plans to eat at her favorite brunch place, followed by shopping on Melrose.

The absolute or independent forms mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, and theirs act as nouns. Just like nouns, they can be the subject of a sentence or the object of a verb or preposition:

My car is parked two blocks away; theirs is across the street.

Because Jeff bought his concert ticket, Scott paid both his dinner tab and ours.

On Friday night Jeff and I spent time with my friends; on Saturday we went out with his.

This table summarizes the numbers and forms of possessive pronouns:

Singular Possessive Pronouns

Adjectival                            Noun

First Person                    my                                  mine
Second Person              your                                 yours
Third Person            his, her, its                    his, hers, its

Plural Possessive Pronouns

Adjectival                            Noun

First Person                   our                                  ours
Second Person              your                                yours
Third Person                their                                theirs

Do you have a question about pronouns? Let me know, and I’ll include it in a future installment of Mots Justes’ ongoing series.

The Mots Justes Series on Pronouns

Part I—The Basics

Part II—Location, Location, Location

Part III—Number

Part IV—Person

Part V—Gender, Plus “They” as a Gender-Neutral Singular Pronoun

Part VI—On the Case

Part VII—Something Personal Between You and Me

Part VIII—Infinitives

Part IX—Indeterminate Gender

Part X—Indefinitely (We, You, and They)

Part XI—Indefinitely (It)

Resources

Chicago Manual of Style, The. 15th ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Hacker, Diana, The Bedford Handbook for Writers, 3rd ed. Boston: St. Martin’s Press: 1991.

Strunk Jr., William, and White, E.B. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. New York: Longman, 2000.

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