en
  • Find tutor

How to use and form a possessive noun

Not knowing how to use a possessive noun means making more grammatical mistakes than you expect. And, not knowing what it expresses can lead to misunderstandings in your conversations.

Milena Lazova
Milena Lazova

Not knowing how to use a possessive noun means making more grammatical mistakes than you expect. And, not knowing what it expresses can lead to misunderstandings in your conversations. Although it’s a noun, you should follow specific rules to form it correctly.

They are similar to plural nouns in their form because of the ‘s added at the end of the noun, which can confuse even professional writers.

What is a possessive noun?

A possessive noun is a noun that shows the noun owns something or someone. Nouns are words that identify people, things, or places. They can all become possessive if you add ‘s or only an apostrophe at the end of the noun when wanting to show that it owns something.

Example:

Dina’s parrot is green.

Here, the possessive noun is Dina’s and shows that Dina owns the parrot. It modifies the word parrot, or it shows to whom it belongs.

How to form and use possessive nouns

You can use the possessive form of nouns to express ownership, or that something belongs to someone. They are formed by adding an apostrophe and s at the end of a singular noun.

Example:

The elephant’s ears help the animals stay cool.

If the noun is plural and ends in s, you shouldn’t add another s but only an apostrophe to make it possessive.

Example:

The boys’ backpacks are blue.

Here, the possessive noun boys’ shows that the backpacks belong to them, and since it already ends in s (boys), there’s no need to add another one after the apostrophe.

Both forms are acceptable if the noun is singular and ends in s. You can either add only an apostrophe or an apostrophe and s at the end of the word.

Examples:

Is that Chris’s car?
Is that Chris’ car?

Both possessive noun examples show that the car belongs to Chris.

If two or more people or things own something, you should only make the last word of the sequence a possessive noun.

Example:

Tina and Maggie’s room is a complete mess.

In this example, we can see Tina and Maggie share the room equally.

Video examples:

The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
Gone Girl (2014)
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
EnglishWhich is correct

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.

Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

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.