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.
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.
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.
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 cats’ toys got lost yesterday. – Plural possessive – many cats
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.
- 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
- 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.
|2 or more people||Kim and Adam’s|
|Singular noun ending in “s”||James’s and James’|
|Plural noun ending in “s”||Parent’s|
|2+ people||Kim’s and Adam’s|
|Apostrophe for Possessives||Apostrophe for Contractions|
|Amy’s swim class||they + have = they’ve|
|Karen’s car||are + not = aren’t|
|Robert’s vehicle||they + will = they’ll|
|Singular Noun||Plural Noun|
|My child’s dog||My children’s dog|
|The man’s work||The men’s work|
|The mouses’ cage||The mice’s cage|
|A person’s clothes||People’s clothes|
|Plural Noun Rule||Example 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:
- Possessive nouns
- Irregular plural nouns
- Proper nouns
- Concrete nouns
- Collective nouns
- Possessive and plural nouns
- Possessive Nouns: How to Use Them, With Examples
- Possessive Noun
- What Is a Possessive Noun? How to Use Them (with Examples)
- Is Possessive Noun A Proper Noun: 7 Facts You Should Know
- Examples of Plural Possessive Nouns
- Plural Possessive Noun
- The Possessive Case / Genitive Case
- What Is a Possessive Noun? How to Use Possessive Nouns
- What Are Possessive Nouns?
- Examples of Possessive Nouns
- Possessive Nouns: Forming the Possessive Noun with Easy Examples
- What Are Abstract Nouns? Definition and Examples
- Abstract Nouns: Definition and Usage Made Clear
- What Are Possessive Nouns? (with Examples)
Inside this article
Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. Learn more.
- Abstract Noun
- Accusative Case
- Active Sentence
- Adjective Clause
- Adjective Phrase
- Adverbial Clause
- Appositive Phrase
- Compound Adjective
- Complex Sentence
- Compound Words
- Compound Predicate
- Common Noun
- Comparative Adjective
- Comparative and Superlative
- Compound Noun
- Compound Subject
- Compound Sentence
- Copular Verb
- Collective Noun
- Concrete Noun
- Conditional Sentence
- Comma Splice
- Correlative Conjunction
- Coordinating Conjunction
- Coordinate Adjective
- Cumulative Adjective
- Dative Case
- Declarative Sentence
- Declarative Statement
- Direct Object Pronoun
- Direct Object
- Dangling Modifier
- Demonstrative Pronoun
- Demonstrative Adjective
- Direct Characterization
- Definite Article
- False Dilemma Fallacy
- Future Perfect Progressive
- Future Simple
- Future Perfect Continuous
- Future Perfect
- First Conditional
- Irregular Adjective
- Irregular Verb
- Imperative Sentence
- Indefinite Article
- Intransitive Verb
- Introductory Phrase
- Indefinite Pronoun
- Indirect Characterization
- Interrogative Sentence
- Intensive Pronoun
- Inanimate Object
- Indefinite Tense
- Infinitive Phrase
- Indicative Mood
- Prepositional Phrase
- Past Simple Tense
- Past Continuous Tense
- Past Perfect Tense
- Past Progressive Tense
- Present Simple Tense
- Present Perfect Tense
- Personal Pronoun
- Persuasive Writing
- Parallel Structure
- Phrasal Verb
- Predicate Adjective
- Predicate Nominative
- Phonetic Language
- Plural Noun
- Punctuation Marks
- Preposition of Place
- Parts of Speech
- Possessive Adjective
- Possessive Determiner
- Possessive Case
- Possessive Noun
- Proper Adjective
- Proper Noun
- Present Participle
- Subordinating Conjunction
- Simple Future Tense
- Stative Verb
- Subject Complement
- Subject of a Sentence
- Sentence Variety
- Second Conditional
- Superlative Adjective
- Slash Symbol