Possessive pronouns are those designating possession. They may also be used as substitutes for noun phrases, and they are typically found at the end of a sentence or clause. There are only a few possessive pronouns in the English language, and there are only two specific rules for using them correctly. Keep these rules in mind when using possessive pronouns, and you’ll discover that writing properly is easier.
We use possessive pronouns to refer to a specific person/people or thing/things (the "antecedent") belonging to a person/people (and sometimes belonging to an animal/animals or thing/things).
We use possessive pronouns depending on:
- number: singular (eg: mine) or plural (eg: ours)
- person: 1st person (eg: mine), 2nd person (eg: yours) or 3rd person (eg: his)
- gender: male (his), female (hers)
Below are the possessive pronouns, followed by some example sentences. Notice that each possessive pronoun can:
- be subject or object
- refer to a singular or plural antecedent
|number||person||gender (of "owner")||possessive pronouns|
|3rd||male/ female/ neuter||theirs|
- Look at these pictures. Mine is the big one. (subject = My picture)
- I like your flowers. Do you like mine? (object = my flowers)
- I looked everywhere for your key. I found John's key but I couldn't find yours. (object = your key)
- My flowers are dying. Yours are lovely. (subject = Your flowers)
- All the essays were good but his was the best. (subject = his essay)
- John found his passport but Mary couldn't find hers. (object = her passport)
- John found his clothes but Mary couldn't find hers. (object = her clothes)
- Here is your car. Ours is over there, where we left it. (subject = Our car)
- Your photos are good. Ours are terrible. (subject = Our photos)
- Each couple's books are colour-coded. Yours are red. (subject = Your books)
- I don't like this family's garden but I like yours. (object = your garden)
- These aren't John and Mary's children. Theirs have black hair. (subject = Their children)
- John and Mary don't like your car. Do you like theirs? (object = their car)
Notice that the interrogative pronoun whose can also be a possessive pronoun (an interrogative possessive pronoun). Look at these examples:
- There was $100 on the table and Tara wondered whose it was.
- This car hasn't moved for two months. Whose is it?