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Possessive Distresses – Taming Problem Pronouns

Last updated 3 years ago

For such small words, Possessive Pronouns confuse a lot of people. Here's a look at some of the problems these words cause and ways we can handle them:

We need pronouns so we don't have to repeat nouns over and over again. When we want to show that somebody possesses (owns or has) something, we use Possessive Pronouns:

my, your, his, her, its, our, their come before the noun they possess:
My book / Her favorite baseball team / Was their story was chosen?

mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs usually follow the noun they possess:
The blue car is mine. / Shouldn't the cake be his? / The best picture is ours.

Problem 1 - Confusing Subject or Object Pronouns with Possessive Pronouns
Have you ever heard someone say something like this?
"The money will be important to Mark's and I's future." (If you haven't, you must not be a fan of reality TV.)

By removing "Mark's and," the speaker could see her error: "The money will be important to I's future."

Correct with Possessive Pronouns:
"The money will be important to Mark's and my future" or "The money will be important to our future."

Problem 2 - Which Pronoun goes with a Gerund?
Verb forms that end in ing (being, skiing, having) are called Gerunds when they are used as nouns. The confusion comes when we need to show possession with these nouns.

Which of these is correct? He being the boss wasn't my idea. / Him being the boss wasn't my idea. / His being the boss wasn't my idea.

Answer: His being the boss wasn't my idea.
The reason is this: Since the Gerund is a noun, when we want to show possession of it, we have to use a Possessive Pronoun before it: My formatting the charts saved him some time. / Your coming here made my day.

Problem 3 – Apostrophes: To use or not to use
Although we use apostrophes ('s) to show possession (Beth's iPhone / The City's plan), Possessive Pronouns that end in S (yours, hers, theirs, ours, its) NEVER take an apostrophe.

Its probably confuses us the most. The pronoun is Its. With the apostrophe, It's means It is. (The cat licked its paws. / It's a new day.)

Look online to find examples of sentences with Possessive Pronouns and exercises to practice using them. With awareness, we can roll right over the possessive potholes.

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