6 Possessive Nouns Rules in Grammar

The possessive case is an important aspect of English grammar because they are a way to show ownership. Possessive nouns are frequently paired with apostrophes, which are included to indicate ownership of the noun.

This article teaches the possessive nouns rules in grammar with examples to help you grasp them better.

What Is a Possessive Noun?

A possessive noun is a noun that possesses or owns something. A noun is used to denote any person, place, or thing and can either be a common noun or a proper noun

When a noun is possessive, it means that the person, place, or thing represents some kind of ownership. The letter ”s” is typically used to indicate that a noun is possessive. But there are some exceptions that you will learn as you read along.

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6 Possessive Nouns Rules in Grammar

The possessive case in English grammar is used to show ownership. There are a few important rules to remember when changing a simple noun into a possessive noun form that owns something.

Rule 1: Add Apostrophe Plus “S” for Singular Possessive Nouns

You can turn any singular noun to its possessive form by adding an apostrophe + the letter “s” to its end.

Example: The lady’s purse was stolen from the market.

This is the most frequently used rule, so make sure to pay close attention to the details. However, this rule does not apply to all singular nouns.

When a singular ends with the letter “s,” you can either use an apostrophe + “s” or drop the “s” and keep the apostrophe only. It depends on which one you want to use and how strange the word sounds with an extra “s” on the end.

Correct 1: Mr. Carlos’ house is just on the other side of the street.

Correct 2: Mr. Carlos’s house is just on the other side of the street.

Rule 2: Add Apostrophe After “S” for Plural Possessive Nouns

When you have a plural noun ending in “s,” add an apostrophe to the end, and no extra “s” is required. Put the apostrophe at the end of the plural noun to indicate that it is now a plural possessive noun.

Example: My parents’ house is very far from here.

However, some irregular plural words in English don’t end with an “s.” And we need to treat them as singular words to make the noun possessive.

Example: Children’s, women’s, sheep’s, etc.

Rule 3: “It” Doesn’t Require an Apostrophe

The possessive form of the pronoun “it” is an exception to the rule of apostrophe + “s.” You don’t need to add an apostrophe to “its” to make it possessive. To show ownership, “it” doesn’t require an apostrophe because “It’s” is the contraction of “It is.”

Example: The chocolate is past its expiry date.

Rule 4: Hyphenated and Compound Nouns

The possessive form of hyphenated and compound nouns can be confusing at times. So, it’s important to understand their difference. For hyphenated nouns functioning as a unit, the apostrophe is added at the end of the last word. However, you need to add an apostrophe + “s” to the end of the compound word to show possession. Examples will make things clear.

Example: My sister-in-law’s prom gown was made of shiny silver fabric.

Example: The management committee’s members put forth a new suggestion for the billing issues.

Rule 5: When Multiple Nouns Share Possession

You could be writing about two or more people, places, or things sharing ownership of an object. When more than one noun shares ownership, only declare possession for the last noun in the group. The apostrophe + “s” should be added only to the last noun.

Example:Michael and Mandy’s new house is big and beautiful.

Rule 6: Multiple Nouns With Separate Ownership

This is the trickiest rule of them all, but you won’t have to use it very frequently. It could be that two or more nouns denote ownership, but the ownership is distinct. Then each noun is given the apostrophe + “s” to indicate independent possession.

Example:Jack’s and Jenny’s school bags were blue and pink.

The above sentence indicates that each person has their own school bags in different colors.

To Wrap Up

The use of possessive nouns in a sentence can be confusing to some. It’s especially tricky when you don’t fully understand the parts of speech of the words you’re trying to put in a sentence.

By knowing the possessive nouns rules in grammar, you can help yourself better understand their appropriate use.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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