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Possessive Pronouns: Rules and Examples

Possessive pronouns show that something belongs to someone. The possessive pronouns are my, our, your, his, her, its, and their. There’s also an “independent” form of each of these pronouns: mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, and theirs. Possessive pronouns are never spelled with apostrophes.

Possessive pronouns simplify constructions that show possession of a noun.

Jane takes pride in Jane’s outfits.

It sounds odd to use Jane’s name twice in this sentence. A possessive pronoun solves the problem:

Jane takes pride in her outfits.

Thus, possessive pronouns are quite handy and are used frequently in the English language.

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My plane is delayed.
Your dinner is ready.
Could you bring his tea out to him?
Remember not to judge a book by its cover.
I would have knocked on their door, but I heard their baby crying.

Independent Possessive Pronouns

Independent possessive pronouns (also called absolute possessive pronouns) must be used without a noun.

My phone is dead. Pass me yours .
Did you know that Labrador is mine ?
The house on the corner is theirs .

As you can see, it is common to see independent possessive pronouns at the ends of clauses or phrases.

A Common Mistake: Its vs. It’s

A very common error is putting an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its. It is easy to confuse its with the contraction of it is, it’s, which does have an apostrophe. Remember, though, possessive pronouns never use apostrophes.

The boat lost it’s mast in the storm.

The boat lost its mast in the storm.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

If you think about the rules for possessive pronouns for a split second every time you write its or it’s, you will never make this mistake again.

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