Possessive Nouns in English Grammar

Introduction

The possessive case expresses ownership. It shows that a relationship of possession between two nouns. To form the possessive case, we add -’s or sometimes just an apostrophe (’) to a noun. We can also use the preposition of to express possession.

Learn the rules of the possessive ’s in English grammar with Lingolia’s online lesson. Then test your knowledge in the exercises.

Example

This is Jim’s budgie. The budgies name is Nibbles. Nibbless feathers are green. Jim keeps Nibbles in his room so that his parents cat cannot reach him.

In a week’s time Jim is going on holiday to England’s south coast and I am looking after Nibbles.

Nibbles has a funny habit: when you open the door of his cage, he starts whistling a children’s song.

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Possessive ’s in the Singular

To express that something belongs to a person, animal or country, we use the possessive ’s.

Example:
This is Jim’s budgie.
The budgie’s name is Nibbles.
Jim is going on holiday to England’s south coast.

In English, we also add the possessive ’s if the noun already ends with s.

Example:
Nibbles’s feathers are green.

The possessive ’s is also used in time expressions.

Example:
in a week’s time

Possessive ’s in the Plural

In the plural, we only use the possessive ’s with irregular plural forms.

Example:
He can whistle children’s songs.

If it’s a regular plural form that just ends with s, we simply add an apostrophe.

Example:
Jim keeps Nibbles in his room so that his parents’ cat cannot reach him.

Possessive case with “of”

We use the possessive form with of mostly for inanimate objects.

Example:
When you open the door of his cage, …

To Note

If we’re referring to an inanimate thing that has a clear connection to people, then we can also use the possessive ’s.

Example:
Australia’s economy
the ecomony of Australia