Possessive Personal Pronouns

What Are Possessive Personal Pronouns?

homesitemapA-Z grammar terms 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."

Table of Contents

  • Examples of Possessive Personal Pronouns
  • "Find the Possessive Personal Pronouns" Test
  • Possessive Personal Pronouns vs Possessive Determiners
  • Why Possessive Personal Pronouns Are Important
  • Test Time!
possessive personal pronoun examples

Personal Pronouns

Let's quickly remind ourselves about personal pronouns. The personal pronouns are "I," "you," "he," "she," "it," "we," and "they." They are used to represent people or things.

Examples of Possessive Personal Pronouns

Here are some examples in possessive personal pronouns (highlighted) in sentences.
  • 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.")

"Find the Possessive Personal Pronouns" Test

Can You Identify Possessive Personal Pronouns?

Possessive Personal Pronouns vs Possessive Determiners

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.

More about Possessive Determiners

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

Let's steal theirs.

Why Possessive Personal Pronouns Are Important

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. correct tick (Singer Samantha Harvey)
  • (There are no apostrophes.)

Key Point

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.

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