What is a Possessive Pronoun? Definition, Examples of Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronoun definition: Possessive pronouns are a part of speech that replaces a noun(s). Possessive pronouns demonstrate ownership.

What is a Possessive Pronoun?

Possessive pronouns show ownership of a person, place, or thing. Because they are pronouns, a noun must be used before a possessive pronoun is used. Possessive pronouns replace nouns.

Possessive pronouns may be in the absolute or adjective form. Regardless, they replace nouns when they are used.

What are the Possessive Pronouns?

Here is a list of possessive pronouns in English.

Absolute Possessive Pronouns:

  • mine
  • yours (singular)
  • his
  • hers
  • its
  • ours
  • yours (plural)
  • theirs

what is possessive pronoun Examples of absolute possessive pronouns in use:

  • The cat is Rita and Oscar’s.
  • The cat is theirs.

The possessive pronoun “theirs” replaces the nouns “Rita’s and Oscar’s” to show ownership of the cat.

Outside Example:

  • Ginsburg failed to mark for Egypt a difference with America’s Constitution: Ours grants almost no rights at all. What it does is prohibit the government from interfering with pre-existing rights that come from man’s — and woman’s — creator. –New York Post

Adjective Possessive Pronouns:

  • my
  • your (singular)
  • his
  • her
  • its
  • our
  • your (plural)
  • their

Examples of adjective possessive pronouns in use:

  • That is Rita and Oscar’s
  • That is their cat.

The adjective possessive pronoun “their” replaces the nouns “Rita and Oscar’s” to show ownership of the cat.

Outside Example:

  • He was in New York for the release of his latest project, “I Am Not Your Guru,” a Netflix documentary directed by Joe Berlinger about what happens behind the scenes at one of Mr. Robbins’s six-day Date With Destiny seminars. –The Wall Street Journal

Possessive Pronouns Replace Nouns

what is a possesive pronoun No matter what, pronouns replace nouns. Pronouns may not be used without first using a noun (antecedent).

Pronouns need antecedents because otherwise they would create confusion.

Example without antecedent:

  • That book is hers.
    • In this sentence, who is she? It is unclear without an antecedent.
    • Do not use a pronoun of any type without an antecedent.

Example with antecedent:

  • Please don’t take Veronica’s book. The book is hers.
  • In this sentence, it is clear to whom the book belongs. In writing, the antecedent needs to come before the use of any pronoun.

Possessive Pronouns Do Not Have Apostrophes

examples of possessive pronouns Possessive pronouns do not have apostrophes. The possession is embedded in the word. By their nature, possessive pronouns demonstrate possession and do not need further punctuation to show that possession.

However, apostrophes are used to show possession for other nouns (but not personal pronouns).

Examples of nouns showing possession:

  • Veronica’s book
  • Able’s suitcase
  • the Smiths’ home
  • the table’s leg
  • the dog’s collar
  • the city’s landmark

Possessive Pronouns with Gerunds

How to use possessive nouns and pronouns When an action (gerund) belongs to a noun, a possessive should be placed before that gerund.

Example:

  • Josh loves your singing.
  • In this example, Josh loves the thing, singing. He loves the singing at all times. Here, the singing is a noun (gerund). Because it is a noun, a possessive adjective is used before the gerund.
  • Josh loves you singing.
    • In this example, Josh loves you when you are singing.

These differences are slight and can be confusing.

Note that the first examples loves the action, at all times. The second example only demonstrates a love when it is happening.

Summary: What are Possessive Pronouns?

Define possessive pronoun: the definition of a possessive pronoun is a pronoun that denotes ownership.

hers possessive and possessive of her The possessive pronouns are,

  • my
  • your (singular)
  • his
  • her
  • its
  • our
  • your (plural)
  • their

The absolute possessives are,

  • mine
  • yours (singular)
  • his
  • hers
  • its
  • ours
  • yours (plural)
  • theirs

To sum up, possessive pronouns:

  • show ownership
  • must come after use of antecedent or only when antecedent is clear
  • do not require apostrophes