What Are Possessive Personal Pronouns? (with Examples)

by Craig Shrives

Possessive Personal Pronouns

A possessive personal pronoun is a word that replaces a noun (or a noun phrase) and shows ownership. The possessive personal pronouns are "mine," "yours," "his," "hers," "ours," and "theirs."

Here is a quick reminder about personal pronouns.
Remember that possessive personal pronouns show ownership. For example:

possessive personal pronoun examples

Examples of Possessive Personal Pronouns

Here are some examples in possessive personal pronouns (highlighted) in quotations.
  • These are my sweets. Yours are in the cupboard.
  • (Here, the possessive personal pronoun "yours" represents the noun "sweets" and shows ownership. In other words, it replaces the noun phrase "your sweets.")
  • Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs. (Author Anthony J D'Angelo)
  • (Here, "theirs" replaces the noun phrase "their reputation.")
  • We cherish our friends not for their ability to amuse us, but for ours to amuse them. (Author Evelyn Waugh)
  • (Here, "ours" replaces the noun phrase "our ability.")
  • I always check if the art across the street is better than mine. (Artist Andy Warhol)
  • (Here, "mine" replaces the noun phrase "my art.")

Possessive Determiners Can Also Be Classified as Possessive Personal Pronouns

Bear in mind that the possessive determiners "my," "your," "his," "her," "its," "our," and "their" (called possessive adjectives in traditional grammar) also have a pronominal function (i.e., act like pronouns). Look at this example:
  • Is that the King's hat? No, it's his crown.
  • (The possessive determiner "his" replaces the noun phrase "the King." That's why possessive determiners are classified as pronouns.)
This means that some grammarians classify possessive determiners as possessive pronouns.

Here's more:
  • Traditional Grammar. In traditional grammar, the term "personal pronoun" refers only to the standalone pronouns (e.g., "mine," "yours," "ours"), while the ones that modify nouns (e.g., "my dog," "your dog," "our dog") are called possessive adjectives.
  • Contemporary Grammar. In contemporary grammar, both the "mine" type and the "my" type are recognized as pronouns but, to avoid confusion, are referred to collectively as "possessives." The "mine" type are called "possessive pronouns" (or sometimes "absolute possessive pronouns" to avoid confusion), while the "my" type are called "possessive determiners."
If you disagree with this summary of the terminology, please tell us using this form.

Read more about how possessive pronouns are classified.

Click on Two Possessive Pronouns

Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...

Possessive Personal Pronouns and Possessive Determiners

Here is a list of personal pronouns with their corresponding possessive determiners and possessive personal pronouns:
Personal PronounPossessive DeterminerPossessive Personal Pronoun
Imy
That is my dog.
mine
That is mine.
youyour
I don't like your attitude.
yours
I don't like yours.
hehis
Take his car tomorrow.
his
Take his tomorrow.
sheher
I like her stance.
hers
I like hers.
itCan you see its tail?[not used]
weour
You can use our chainsaw.
ours
You can use ours.
theytheir
Let's steal their plan.
theirs

Let's steal theirs.

Why Should I Care about Possessive Personal Pronouns?

The possessive personal pronouns ("yours," "hers," etc.) do not cause too many writing issues for native English speakers. However, the same cannot be said for possessive determiners ("your," "its," etc.).

With possessive determiners, the most common mistake is confusing a possessive determiner (e.g., "its," "their," "your") with an identical-sounding contraction (e.g., "it's," "they're," "you're").

Read more about confusing possessive determiners with contractions.

Here is the main writing issue related to possessive personal pronouns.

(Main Issue) Don't put an apostrophe in "yours," "hers," "ours," or "theirs."

By far the most common mistake related to possessive personal pronouns is including an apostrophe with "yours," "hers," "ours," or "theirs." There are no apostrophes in any possessive pronouns.
  • When we fall in love, we feel that this person is ours and we are theirs by our mutual volition. (Singer Samantha Harvey)
  • (There are no apostrophes.)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What are possessive determiners? What are possessive pronouns? The different types of pronouns What are adjectives? What are nouns? What are pronouns?