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What is a Possessive Noun? (Examples of Singular, Plural, Rules)

A possessive noun is a noun form that indicates possession. There is a singular and plural possessive noun form. Both can be quite confusing for English writers as they follow different grammar rules for pluralization and possession.

What is a possessive noun?

Nouns that indicate ownership or a direct link are referred to as possessive nouns.

In most cases, the possessive form of a singular possessive noun is formed by adding an apostrophe (‘) followed by the letter s to the end of the word. Even abstract nouns can take on the possessive form of almost any other noun.

Take, for instance –

  • This is Sam’s uniform.

The use of an apostrophe and the letter “s” in this phrase makes the noun Sam into a possessive form, indicating that Sam is the owner of the outfit. It is clear that Sam is the owner of the outfit because it has both an apostrophe and the letter s.

Possessive noun chart
Possessive noun chart

How can you determine whether or not a noun is possessive?

The letter ‘s’, the apostrophe, or both can be used to show that a noun is possessive. A possessive noun can also be capitalized. Keep an eye out for the apostrophe and the letter ‘s’ in order to determine whether or not the word in question refers to a common noun or a possessive noun.

On the other hand, the combination of an apostrophe and the letter s on some nouns can also signify a contraction, which is when two words are combined into a single word. For instance, “The girl’s” might be a possessive word, or it can indicate “The girl is.” Both interpretations are possible.

In this circumstance, you need to determine if a second noun follows the noun.

Typically, the first noun possesses the thing that is denoted by the second word. The noun can’t be possessive if a verb or an adverb follows it.

Because of their similarity to contractions, the use of possessive nouns in writing should be approached with caution. This is where things have the potential to become complicated.

possessive noun
Possessive noun

How is it different from other noun forms?

A person, place, object, concept, characteristic, or activity can be referred to by its noun name. The use of an apostrophe, a “s,” or both can be used to denote ownership with a possessive word.

This is the most important distinction that can be made when comparing a possessive noun to other types of nouns.

Difference with a common noun

One category of nouns is known as possessive nouns, and they are used to express ownership of a person, place, or item.

Another type of noun, known as a proper noun, refers to or denotes a distinct and unique person, animal, location, or thing. Proper nouns can also be used in compound nouns.

The distinctions between possessive nouns and proper nouns are as follows:

Nouns that demonstrate ownership or possession are referred to as possessive nouns. When indicating ownership of an object or a person, a possessive noun can be any kind of noun. Proper nouns are the only exception to this rule.

However, other sorts of nouns, including as common nouns, material nouns, and abstract nouns, cannot be transformed into proper nouns. Proper nouns are the only nouns that may be used in their place.

For instance,

  • Burj Khalifa is one of the places that James would love to visit.

The term “Burj Khalifa” functions as a proper noun since it is being used to refer to or name a specific location in this phrase.

Proper nouns, on the other hand, can only ever be proper nouns since no other type of noun can perform the role of proper nouns. Possessive nouns, on the other hand, can be any sort of noun when they perform the function of indicating possession.

Is it possible for a possessive noun to function as a proper noun?

A possessive noun can, in fact, also function as a proper noun.

Take, for instance –

  • Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is an absolute master piece.

It is clear that Khaled Hosseini is the author of the book Kite Runner since the word “his” functions as a possessive noun in this context.

This indicated that the book belongs to Khaled Hosseini and indicating that he is the owner of the book. Because Khaled Hosseini is the name of a specific author (person), the term “Khaled Hosseini” is a proper noun.

Therefore, a possessive noun has the potential to function as a proper noun.

When are possessive nouns turned into proper nouns?

Possessive nouns are considered proper nouns when they are used in the context of attributing anything. This could be a person, a location, or an item.

What is a possessive plural noun?

The possession of something is denoted by the use of a plural possessive noun, which is a type of plural noun.

Take, for instance –

  • The cat’s toy got lost yesterday. – Singular possessive – one cat

The words cat and cats are neither the subjects nor the objects in the two phrases that they are found in. Instead, they are both nouns that identify the person or thing that the subject belongs to (toy).

The word “cat’s” appears as a possessive in the first phrase, indicating that just one cat is the owner of the toy. The use of the plural possessive word “cats'” in the second line provides us with the information that the toy is shared by more than one cat.

Creating a Noun that Accepts Plural Possession

Forming the plural of the singular noun is the first step in producing the possessive form of a noun. The ending -s or -es can be added to the end of a large number of single nouns in order to make them plural.

Take, for instance:

  • book – books
  • toy – toys
  • bus – buses
  • bottle – bottles

Some nouns are irregular, meaning that they create the plural in a manner different from simply adding a -s or -es to the end of the word.

Take, for instance –

  • mouse – mice
  • thief – thieves

After you have completed the process of forming the plural of the noun, if the plural noun ends in -s or -es, add an apostrophe (‘). Add an apostrophe and a s to the end of the plural word if it does not finish in an s.

What is an abstract possessive noun?

Abstract nouns are nouns that cannot be immediately experienced by any of the human senses, according to our definition of the term.

These nouns each stand for a different facet, notion, idea, experience, state of being, quality, or feeling. You could feel them emotionally, but your sense of touch will not pick up on them.

Abstract art and abstract words have many similarities. They are both difficult to define and explain, but once you see it, you will understand what it is.

The phrase “abstract” refers to something that exists aside from concrete existence. Hence, the term is used to characterize nouns that we are unable to experience in a way that is sensory in nature.

Abstract nouns include things like love, anger, humor, and knowledge, among other things.

Possessive forms of abstract nouns are possible to use as well.

Here are few instances –

  • You cannot fix freedom’s price.
  • James did not understand love’s importance.

What is a singular possessive noun?

A possessive noun in the singular form refers to a single individual, location, or item. It is owned by another element in the phrase or has some other link to that element. In order to properly produce their possessive form, it is necessary to add an apostrophe and the letter “s.”

The following is an illustration of a possessive noun that is singular:

  • Sarah’s house is lovely.
  • The teacher’s voice is very soothing.


Plural noun

  • Computer – Computers
  • Ring – Rings
  • Finger – Fingers
  • Pencil – Pencils
  • Nail – Nails
  • Fox – Foxes
  • Box- Boxes
  • Class – Classes
  • Glass – Glasses
  • Wolf – Wolves
  • Loaf – Loaves
  • Knife – Knives
  • Calf – Calved
  • Mango – Mangoes
  • Tomato – Tomatoes
  • Volcano – Volcanoes
  • City – Cities
  • Puppy – Puppies
  • Boy – Boys
  • Thesis – Theses
  • Crisis – Crises
  • Man – Men
  • Child – Children
  • Foot – Feet
  • Sister-in-law – Sisters-in-law
  • Cousin – Cousins

Possessive noun

  • Man – Man’s best friend
  • Boy – Boy’s new car
  • Child – Child’s old toy
  • Sister-in-law – Sister-in-law’s husband
  • Cousin – Cousin’s new video game
  • Puppy – Puppy’s ball
  • Mango – Mango’s taste
  • Wolf – Wolf’s howl
  • Knife – Knife’s sharpness
  • Tomato – Tomato’s paste

Singular possessive noun

  • The boy’s new toy got stolen.
  • The dog’s shouts were heard across the street.
  • Bill’s new phone is very expensive.
  • Sister-in-law’s husband lives in the USA.
  • The child’s toy was bought from Target.

Possessive plural proper noun

  • The tables’ were brought in for the event.
  • The tomatoes’ are all rotten.
  • The children’s toys were new.
  • The men’s shoes are very expensive.
  • My sisters-in-law’s have bought the same bag for themselves.

Possessive noun rules

The formation of possessives using two or more nouns in a sentence

What happens if more than one individual claims ownership of a certain item?

Compound possessives, also known as possessives that include more than one noun, can be handled in two different ways.

The strategy that should be used is determined by determining whether the nouns refer to the same object or whether they refer to several separate things.

Only the noun that comes last in a series may be considered possessive when there are many nouns that own or are connected to the same item.

How to use hyphenated and compound nouns to construct possessives

Although hyphenated and compound nouns may appear to be difficult, using them is actually rather straightforward. Simply add an apostrophe and a s to the final word if they are single.

How to emphasize something using the adjective own in a sentence

To emphasize a particular point, use the possessive word own before the noun it refers to in the sentence. This is helpful if you want to call attention to the link or ownership in order to convey your point more clearly.

Possessive noun FAQs

What is the definition of a possessive noun?

To demonstrate ownership or a close relationship, you might use a version of the word known as a possessive noun.

The use of an apostrophe and the letter s at the end of a word, for instance, “Spider’s web” or “the boy’s toy,” is a typical indicator of possessiveness.

Which forms of possessive nouns are there in the English language?

There are four different types of possessive nouns, including possessive pronouns (toys of theirs), plural possessive nouns (many cats’ toys), and singular possessive nouns (one cat’s toy). Irregular possessive nouns, like as “the cats’ toys,” are also a type of possessive noun.

When should you employ nouns that take possession?

When demonstrating ownership or a direct link, possessive nouns are typically placed in front of the word they refer to in order to emphasize this proximity.

Another option is to use the preposition of, as in “the toy of the cat,” to demonstrate ownership of something.

What Is a Possessive Pronoun?

Words that take the place of other, more precise nouns are called pronouns. There are four pronouns: “I,” “he,” “she,” and “it.”

Pronouns that take the possessive form denote ownership. Words like “my,” “his,” “hers,” and “its” are examples. This is only one illustration:

That was the cat’s plaything all along. The dog is playing with one of his toys right now.

Notice how the word “his” takes the place of “the cat’s” in the second sentence? Possessive pronouns are words that express possession while substituting other nouns or proper nouns.

There is no need to use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns because they operate under their own unique set of guidelines. There are thirteen pronouns that indicate possession.

The following is a list of examples of possessive pronouns that can be used in a sentence:

  • The book is mine.
  • Give James his report sheet.
  • I told James this book was yours.
  • Are you talking about the Mercedes? It’s hers.
  • Their cat is very tidy.
Singular nounSarah’s
Plural nounWomen’s
2 or more peopleKim and Adam’s
Singular noun ending in “s”James’s and James’
Plural noun ending in “s”Parent’s
2+ peopleKim’s and Adam’s
Apostrophe for PossessivesApostrophe for Contractions
Amy’s swim classthey + have = they’ve
Karen’s carare + not = aren’t
Robert’s vehiclethey + will = they’ll
Singular NounPlural Noun
My child’s dogMy children’s dog
The man’s workThe men’s work
The mouses’ cageThe mice’s cage
A person’s clothesPeople’s clothes
Plural Noun RuleExample or Exception
To make regular nouns plural, add ‑s to the end.Cats, Houses
If the singular noun ends in ‑s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z, add ‑es to the end to make it plural.Bus / Busses, Tax / Taxes
In some instances, singular nouns ending in -s or -z, require that you double the -s or -z prior to adding the -es for pluralization.Gas / Gasses
If the noun ends with ‑f or ‑fe, the f is often changed to ‑ve before adding the -s to form the plural version.Wife / wives
Roof / Roofs
Chef / Chefs
If a singular noun ends in ‑y and the letter before the -y is a consonant, change the ending to ‑ies to make the noun plural.City / Cities
If the singular noun ends in -y and the letter before the -y is a vowel, simply add an -s to make it plural.Boy / Boys
If the singular noun ends in ‑o, add ‑es to make it plural.Tomato / Tomatoes
Photo / Photos
If the singular noun ends in ‑us, the plural ending is often ‑i.Cactus / Cacti
If the singular noun ends in ‑is, the plural ending is ‑es.Ellipsis / Ellipses
If the singular noun ends in ‑on, the plural ending is ‑a.Criterion / Criteria
Some nouns don’t change when they’re pluralized.Sheep / Sheep
Deer / Deer

More on nouns

More resources about nouns:


  1. Possessive Nouns: How to Use Them, With Examples
  2. Possessive Noun
  3. What Is a Possessive Noun? How to Use Them (with Examples)
  4. Is Possessive Noun A Proper Noun: 7 Facts You Should Know
  5. Examples of Plural Possessive Nouns
  6. Plural Possessive Noun
  7. The Possessive Case / Genitive Case
  8. What Is a Possessive Noun? How to Use Possessive Nouns
  9. What Are Possessive Nouns?
  10. Examples of Possessive Nouns
  11. Possessive Nouns: Forming the Possessive Noun with Easy Examples
  12. What Are Abstract Nouns? Definition and Examples
  13. Abstract Nouns: Definition and Usage Made Clear
  14. What Are Possessive Nouns? (with Examples)

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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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