What is a Possessive Noun? Definition, Examples of Possessive Nouns

Definition of possessive noun: A possessive noun is one that shows ownership.

What Does Possessive Noun Mean?

What is a possessive noun? A noun is commonly defined as a person, place, thing, idea, or quality. Nouns become possessive once they are changed to show ownership.

Examples of Possessive Nouns:

  • Janet’s car needed to be washed after taking it across the country.
    • Janet’s = possessive noun
    • Car = object of possession
  • The trees’ leaves began to change colors as summer transformed into fall.
    • Trees’ = possessive noun
    • Leaves = object of possession

How to Form the Possessive in English

what are singular possessive nounsForming possessive nouns: Possessive nouns begin as simple nouns and must be changed in order to show possession.

To make singular nouns possessive, you simply add an apostrophe + s.

  • Book > Book’s
  • Sally > Sally’s

To make plural nouns ending in “s” possessive, an apostrophe is added to the end.

  • Vacations > Vacations’
  • Cakes > Cakes’

To make plural nouns not ending in “s” possessive, add an apostrophe + s.

  • Children > Children’s
  • Deer > Deer’s

To make names that end in “s” possessive, you can either add an apostrophe at the end, or you may add an apostrophe + s.

  • Chris > Chris’ or Chris’s
  • Jess > Jess’ or Jess’s

Possessive Nouns and Personal Pronouns

what are possessive nouns and pronounsIn addition to possessive nouns, there are also possessive pronouns. These words are possessive nouns in a sense, but they do not need an apostrophe or the letter “s” added to them to make them possessive.

Instead, possessive pronouns are by their very nature are in the possessive form.

Possessive Pronoun Examples:

  • John walked up the stairs to his room.
    • His = personal pronoun
  • Her poster was the best in the class.
    • Her = personal pronoun
  • Their family was always a source of embarrassment at the reunion.
    • Their = personal pronoun
  • When placed in the heat, its color changes
    • Its = personal pronoun
  • That photograph is mine.
    • Mine = personal pronoun
  • The victory is ours.
    • Ours = personal pronoun

As you can see, these words already indicate possession, so there is no need to add an apostrophe or the letter “s.”

In other words, you should never see the word his’s, their’s, ours’, etc.

Inanimate Objects Can be Possessive

It’s also important to note that nouns do not have to be people to show possession. As some of our above examples show, inanimate objects can take the possessive form to show ownership.


  • The car’s wheels were brand new.
    • Car’s = possessive noun
  • The speaker’s volume was too loud.
    • Speaker’s = possessive noun

Possessive Nouns Are Not Contractions

what are plural possessive nounsIn English, apostrophes are used to indicate two things: possession or the omission of letters. These are two different concepts that shouldn’t be confused.

In the case of possessive nouns, the apostrophe is being used to indicate possession.

  • That is Jim’s speaker.

The apostrophe in this sentence is showing us that the speaker belongs to Jim.

In the case of contractions, the apostrophe is being used to indicate the omission of letters.

  • Please don’t drive too fast.

In this sentence, the apostrophe is indicating the omission of the letter “o” from the contraction don’t. Don’t is a contraction for do not.

Common Questions on Possessive Nouns

what are the two jobs of the possessive nounWhat is a Singular Possessive Noun? A singular possessive noun is simply a singular noun made possessive.

For example,

  • Car > Car’s
  • House > House’s

What is a Plural Possessive Noun? As you might expect, a plural possessive noun is a plural noun that is made to be possessive.

For example,

  • Apples > Apples’
  • Boxes > Boxes’

Summary: What Are Possessive Nouns?

Define possessive noun: Possessive nouns are nouns that show ownership.

Final example,

  • Taking a vacation every summer was Jason’s highlight of the year.
    • Jason’s = possessive noun