Using Nouns to Show Possession

Possessive nouns are those nouns that show possession. Possessive Nouns are used to show ownership.

A noun is possessive only when a phrase can be modified to say that an idea or commodity belongs to something or someone. Possessive nouns are an integral part of learning English, use them as often as you can to gain confidence.
In the singular form, the possessive case is formed by adding ‘s to the noun.

  • The clothes of the girl.
    The girl’s clothes.
  • The toys of the boy.
    The boy’s toys.
  • Mary goes to this school.
    This is Mary’s school.

King’s castle, grandfather’s stick, my dog’s bowl and all of the above are formed by adding the ‘s.

Modify the following sentences by using the apostrophe (‘) to show possession:

The king’s servants.

The computer’s cover.

My phone’s charger.

  • The servants of the king.
  • Cover of the computer.
  • The charger of my phone.

For certain words, instead of ‘s, only ‘ is used to avoid a hissing noise. Keep this is mind when using possessive nouns.

Some examples would be:

  • Boss’ office.
  • Dr.Briuss’ house.
  • For goodness’ sake.

There are two rules to follow in case the noun is in plural form.

  • If the noun ends in s then the possessive case is formed by adding the apostrophe
    E.g. the donkeys’ tail, the boys’ hostel, the cousins’ aunt.
  • If the noun does not end in s then the possessive case is formed by adding ‘s.
    E.g. the children’s park, the men’s room.

It’s simple as long as you know the plural form of the noun. The plural form of ‘god’ will be ‘gods’ and so the apostrophe will be used after ‘s’ (gods’). In case of nouns like ‘woman’, the plural form is ‘women’ and so the apostrophe followed by ‘s’ will be used (women’s).

Add the apostrophe in the following sentences.

  • Our cousins short uncle.                  (Apostrophe can be before or after ‘s’)
  • Businessmens briefcase.                (Businessmen’s)
  • The ladies washroom.                     (Ladies’)

Here are some more examples to show you other possible cases.

  • Alex and Philip’s shop. (Two nouns are used closely and showing joint possession; here, the apostrophe will be used with the second noun)
  • Shakespeare’s and Wordsworth’s works. (Two nouns are used together yet separate possession is implied thus the apostrophe is used with both nouns)
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