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Resources -> Learn English Grammar -> Nouns -> Possessive Nouns

Possessive Nouns

Possessive nouns are those nouns that show possession. Possessive Nouns are used to show ownership.

A noun is possessive only when a phrase can be modified to say that an idea or commodity belongs to something or someone. Possessive nouns are an integral part of learning English, use them as often as you can to gain confidence.

Here are some rules to help you use possessive nouns

Rule 1: In singular nouns (person, place, thing or idea), we add apostrophe and ‘s’ after the noun. For example:

Ron’s car is in the garage. (Car belonging to Ron is in the garage)

Note that the possessive noun always comes before what the person or a thing owns or has. In this case, the car belongs to Ron and hence the singular noun ‘Ron’ is placed before ‘car’ that he owns.

Rule 2: In singular nouns ending with ‘s’, we add an apostrophe and ‘s’ to the noun. For example:

Tejas’s notebook is lying on the table. (Notebook of Tejas is lying on the table)

Suhas’s wife is a doctor. (Wife of Suhas is a doctor)

Rule 3: In singular nouns ending with ‘s’ followed by a word starting with 's', we just add an apostrophe to the noun. This is to avoid a hissing sound. For example:

Tejas’ school is in Malviya Nagar.

Suhas’ sister is a teacher.

Rule 4: In plural nouns (ending with ‘s’), we add apostrophe after ‘s’. For example:

Students’ report cards are ready.

Girls’ dance classes have been postponed.

In the first one, the plural of ‘student’ is ‘students’. To show that the report cards belonging to the students are ready, we simply add apostrophe after ‘s’.

Similarly, in the second sentence, the plural of ‘girl’ is ‘girls’. To show that the dance classes which the girls attend have been postponed, we add apostrophe after ‘s’.

Rule 5: In irregular plural nouns (men, children) we add apostrophe and ‘s’ to show possession. For example:

Children’s clothes are expensive. (Clothes of children are expensive)

People’s mindset needs to be changed. (Mindset of people needs to be changed)

In the first example, plural of ‘child’ is ‘children’. To show that the clothes belonging to the children are expensive, we add apostrophe and ‘s’ after children. The same rule applies to the second example as well.

Here are some more examples to show you other possible cases.

  • Alex and Philip’s shop. (Two nouns are used closely and showing joint possession; here, the apostrophe will be used with the second noun)

  • Shakespeare’s and Wordsworth’s works. (Two nouns are used together yet separate possession is implied thus the apostrophe is used with both nouns)