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How to recognize and form a possessive noun

A possessive noun is a type of noun that shows something belongs to it. It’s a simple way to express ownership.

Milena Lazova
Milena Lazova

You may not know what a possessive noun is, but you’ve probably used it by now. This type of noun can be tricky for ESL learners because they are nouns that function as adjectives in a sentence.

But, there’s no need to worry as a few simple rules of forming a possessive noun can help you overcome this challenge.

What is a possessive noun?

A possessive noun is a type of noun that shows something belongs to it. It’s a simple way to express ownership. It functions as an adjective in the sentence, so it’s always followed by another noun – the one that it describes.

You can recognize the possessive form of nouns by the apostrophe + s or ‘s found at the end of the noun. Possessive noun examples include Mary’s, New York’s, girl’s, etc.

How to form a possessive noun?

You can turn any noun into a possessive one by adding ‘s at the end of the noun.

Examples

This is Lisa’s bag.
The room’s walls are painted yellow.

Here, the possessive nouns are Lisa’s and room’s, and you can recognize them by the ‘s added at the end of the words Lisa and room. Although Lisa and the room are nouns, by adding ‘s, you’re making them adjectives that show the bag belongs to Lisa and the walls belong to the room (“the walls of the room” is a more common phrase than the room’s walls).

Sometimes, there’s no need to add an “s” after the apostrophe. This is when the noun ends in “s,” such as most plural nouns in English or any singular noun that ends in this letter. In that case, you only add an apostrophe at the end of the noun.

Example

I’m in the babies’ changing room.
I found Chris’ phone.

How is a possessive noun different from other nouns?

What makes possessive nouns different from others is that they act as adjectives instead of nouns.

Unlike regular nouns whose only purpose is to name people, objects, places, or things, possessive nouns also show that something belongs to them. And, they end in ‘s or just an apostrophe, which is not the case with regular nouns.

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Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.


Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Valentina Dordevic

Hello! My name is Valentina. Book digesting is my specialty. I transform book ideas into easy-to-follow summaries, articles, study guides, reviews, essays, analyses, slides, or e-books.

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.