Monday, May 26, 2014

The Least You Should Know - Possessives

Possessives can be tricky.

And, confusing as well. Are we thinking about what belongs to us? Or are we thinking about how to portray a possessive in writing?

Let's go with writing in this session.

 Do you add an "s", do you add an apostrophe? Will the world end if you don't? I don't know about you, but if you make a grammar mistake on the Internet, i.e, FaceBook, Lord help you and all you know.

So, let's take a look at writing possessives. The best question to ask yourself is "Who does this belong to?" Or, if you want to be particularly proper, I guess the correct question is "To whom does this belong?" But, I'm not going to hold you to that.

Remember, the key word is belong.

Who does it belong to?

If you ask the question a different way, you might not get the correct answer and can turn out some pretty ugly stuff. (Ok, did you see how I slipped in that oxymoron? Cool, eh?)

To make a possessive:

Ask "Who or what does it belong to?"
If the answer ends in s, add an apostrophe.
If the answer doesn't end in s, add an apostrophe and s.


Let's try some, shall we?

The womans dress

The womens ideas

Stephens department

James apartment

The Whites house

Mr. Whites house

So, how'd you do?

Well, I'll tell you the correct answer below and you can find out for yourself.

The woman's dress

The women's ideas

Stephen's department

James' apartment

The Whites' house

Mr. White's house


Sometimes people will write a variation of the possessive. For example, James' book may be written James's book. That's correct as well. However, always following the examples above are the best way to stay out of trouble.

WARNING: Don't assume that because a word ends in s it is necessarily a possessive. Make sure the word actually possesses something before you put in an apostrophe.

A few words, called possessive pronouns, are already possessive and don't need an apostrophe added to them.

my, mine              its
your, yours           our, ours
his                        their, theirs
her, hers               whose

Practice with the following:

  1. (It) raining
  2. (You) car needs washing
  3. (Who) to blame?
  4. (They) planning to come.
  5. The cat drank (it) milk.
  6. (Who) been sitting here?
  7. The wind lost (it) force.
  8. (Who) going with me?
  9. My book has lost (it) cover.
  10. (It) all I can do.
  11. (You) right.
  12. (They) garden has many trees.
  13. (It) sunny today.
  14. (Who) car shall we take?
  15. The club lost (it) leader.

Did you get them all correct?

Here's the answers:

  1. It's
  2. Your
  3. Who's
  4. They're
  5. its
  6. Who's
  7. its
  8. Who's
  9. its
  10. It's
  11. You're
  12. Their
  13. It's
  14. Whose
  15. its

Are you on the right track for writing correct possessives? I hope so. If not, you can refer back to the above list and practice sessions.


Your Writing Coach

Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

1 comment:

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