Showing possession through nouns - Easy Learning Grammar
Possession can be shown in two ways:
- The man was mending his car.
- The car was being mended by a man.
- by adding -’s to a singular noun, or an irregular plural noun that does not end in -s.
|one dog||one boy||several children|
|the dog’s bones ||the boy’s books ||the children’s toys |
- by adding -’ to a plural noun.
There is also the of possessive (a phrase with of followed by a noun).
|more than one dog ||more than one boy|
|the dogs’ bones||the boys’ books|
The of possessive is not just a different way of saying the same thing as the -’s possessive.
|the side of the ship||the end of the queue|
The -’s possessive is generally used only with nouns referring to animate items (e.g. people and animals) and in time phrases.
|the boy’s pencil||but not the pencil of the boy |
The of possessive is generally used with nouns referring to inanimate things (i.e. objects) and abstract ideas.
|the driver’s foot||the dog’s nose|
|today’s newspaper ||a week’s holiday|
The function of the possessive form in English is to:
|the leg of the table||the arm of the sofa|
|the wheel of the car||the foot of the bed|
|the world of ideas||the power of thought|
|the boy’s books||the dog’s blanket|
- show a relationship, with a person either as the originator or the user of the thing named.
|her parents’ consent||the student’s letter|
|a women’s club||the children’s park|
- indicate that a place is where someone works or lives.
|a grocer’s||the butcher’s|
|a solicitor’s||my aunt’s|
- show that something is a part of a whole.
|the leg of the table||the dog’s nose|
|the wheel of the car||the girl’s shoulder|
- add a descriptive element which premodifies a noun. It is a type of determiner. See also Determiners.
Rules for the formation of the possessive -’s (apostrophe -s) and -s’ (-s apostrophe) are as follows:
|writer’s cramp||A Winter’s Tale|
- most singular nouns add an apostrophe + -s.
|a girl’s ring||a cat’s face|
- most plural nouns add an apostrophe after the plural form -s.
There are exceptions for the following:
|the boys’ football||five young girls’ faces|
- common nouns that end in -s in the singular. When these are made plural the choice of -’s or a simple apostrophe is optional.
|a cactus||the cactus’ spines|
| ||the cactus’s habitat|
- plural nouns not ending in -s, for example those that that have a plural ending in -en. In this case, add an apostrophe + s.
- proper nouns and common nouns that end in -s. These usually add -’s in the singular unless the final sound of the basic word is [-iz], in which case, a simple apostrophe is sufficient.
Compound nouns (see Compound nouns) put the -’s or the simple apostrophe at the end of the complete compound.
|Mrs Evans’s car||Mr Jones’s fence|
|Keats’s poetry||the Bates’s cat|
|I like Dickens’s novels|| |
|Peter Bridges’ car|| |
Noun phrases that are descriptive of someone’s role or profession put the -’s on the headword of the phrase.
|my mother-in-law ||my mother-in-law’s car|
|the runner-up||the runner-up’s trophy|
|the fire-fighters||the fire-fighters’ efforts|
If they use an of construction the -’s or simple apostrophe usually goes on the last noun.
- a stock market analyst’s annual income
- the senior hospital consultant’s weekly visit
- the President of Austria’s official car
- the director of marketing’s personal assistant