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14.10: Possessives

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    235800
    • Rachel Bell, Jim Bowsher, Eric Brenner, Serena Chu-Mraz, Liza Erpelo, Kathleen Feinblum, Nina Floro, Gwen Fuller, Chris Gibson, Katharine Harer, Cheryl Hertig, Lucia Lachmayr, Eve Lerman, Nancy Kaplan-Beigel, Nathan Jones, Garry Nicol, Janice Sapigao, Leigh Anne Shaw, Paula Silva, Jessica Silver-Sharp, Mine Suer, Mike Urquidez, Rob Williams, Karen Wong, Susan Zoughbie, Leigh Anne Shaw, Paula Silva, Jessica Silver-Sharp, Mine Suer, Mike Urquidez, Rob Williams, Karen Wong, and Susan Zoughbie
    • Skyline College

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    Possessives - What are they?

    Connections: For additional apostrophe-related material, see “Contractions.”

    To show ownership of things, people or concepts, we use possessives. The possessive form looks like this:

    • The dog belonging to the boy shed hair on the floor.
    • The talent of the singer is apparent after seeing her show.

    But a simpler, more common and concise way, is to change the noun that does the possessing:

    • The boy’s dog shed hair on the floor.
    • The singer’s talent is apparent after seeing her show.

    With a few exceptions, the following two rules cover nearly all you need to know about forming possessives:

    1. To form the possessive of a noun, add apostrophe + s.
      • the books of the student → the student’s books
      • the toys of the girl → the girl’s toys
    2. If the noun already ends in s, just add an apostrophe at the end of the word.
      • the books of the students → the students’ books
      • the toys of the girls → the girls’ toys

    If a proper noun (a name) ends in -s, you may choose to add either apostrophe + s, or just the apostrophe alone, depending on whether you would pronounce the extra -s.

    Moses’ followers OR Moses’s followers

    Remember: Do not use -’s when you are simply showing the plural form:

    CORRECT: Charbroiled eggplants are served here.

    INCORRECT: Charbroiled eggplant’s are served here.

    Adapted from Fog City Fundamentals, Fourth Edition, Altman & Deicke, 1998

    Practice

    Exercise 1 – Possessives

    Rewrite each group of words in bold, using apostrophes to show possession.

    Examples: Nancy liked the shape of the laptop.

    Revised: the laptop’s shape

    Jo often borrowed the comb belonging to Nancy.

    Revised: Nancy’s comb


    1. Nancy was driving along with Jo in the car owned by Beth.
    2. The tires of the car screeched to a halt after a confession.
    3. Not even the defroster could fight the fog of the windows.
    4. The two avoided the snow by walking underneath the leaves of the trees.
    5. The hands of Jo were cold; warming them wasn’t entirely out of the question.
    6. The attitudes of people just aren’t ready for this,” Nancy said.
    7. The two looked to the snowflakes of the sky and saw white dusty stars floating by.
    8. “We should go home and sit before the heat of the fireplace,” Jo said.
    9. The mugs that belong to Beth should hold enough hot chocolate to warm us up.”
    Answer

    Exercise 1 – Possessives

    Rewrite each underlined group of words, using apostrophes to show possession.

    1. Nancy was driving along with Jo in the car owned by Beth (Beth’s car).
    2. The tires of the car (The car’s tires) screeched to a halt after a confession.
    3. Not even the defroster could fight the fog of the windows (the windows’ fog).
    4. The two avoided the snow by walking underneath the leaves of the trees (the trees’ leaves).
    5. The hands of Jo (Jo’s hands) were cold; warming them wasn’t entirely out of the question.
    6. The attitudes of people (People’s attitudes) just aren’t ready for this,” Nancy said.
    7. The two looked to the snowflakes of the sky (the sky’s snowflakes) and saw white dusty stars floating by.
    8. “We should go home and sit before the heat of the fireplace,(the fireplace’s heat) Jo said.
    9. The mugs that belong to Beth (Beth’s mugs) should hold enough hot chocolate to warm us up.”


    Other Forms of Possessives

    Joint Possession: The following pairs of nouns show joint ownership; two or more people own the same thing.

    the string belonging to Rich and Eddie Rich and Eddie’s duck

    the children of Bob and Edward Bob and Edward’s children

    Rule: Nouns showing joint ownership have apostrophe + s added to the noun nearest the thing possessed.

    Individual Possession: The following pairs of nouns show individual ownership. (Rich and Eddie probably do not own the same socks, nor do Bob and Edward use the same toothbrush.)

    the socks belonging to Rich and Eddie Rich’s and Eddie’s socks

    the toothbrushes of Bob and Edward Bob’s and Edward’s toothbrush

    Rule: Nouns showing individual ownership have apostrophe + s added to each noun.

    When NOT to use apostrophe + s:

    Do not use ’s to form possessive pronouns:

    When NOT to use apostrophe + s
    Pronouns Adjective Possessive Pronoun (requires a subject to modify) Possessive Pronoun
    he his his
    she her hers
    it its n/a
    we our ours
    you your yours
    they their theirs
    I my mine
    Practice

    Which possessive pronouns belong in the following examples?

    This is Kimberly’s handbook. This is her handbook. The handbook is hers.

    Those are Jessie’s records. Those are ________ records. The records are _________.

    That is Frank and Todd’s car. That is _________ car. The car is _________.

    The tall vase belongs to you. The tall one is ______ vase. The vase is _________.

    Answer

    This is Kimberly’s handbook. This is her handbook. The handbook is hers .

    Those are Jessie’s records. Those are her records. The records are hers .

    That is Frank and Todd’s car. That is his car. The car is his .

    The tall vase belongs to you. The tall one is your vase. The vase is yours .

    Practice

    Exercise 2 – Possessives

    Rewrite each underlined group of words, using apostrophes to show possession.

    Examples:

    • The flavor of the coffee was unusual. the coffee’s flavor
    • I live in the home of my parents. my parents’ home
    • We went to the wedding of Joe and Kay. Joe and Kay’s wedding
    • He ironed the clothes of Pete and May. Pete’s and May’s clothing.

    1. The combined losses of the North and South were the greatest in any American war.
    2. The president took away some of the responsibilities of the chief-of-staff.
    3. We loved the shoes of George and Sara.
    4. She was insulted by the rude remarks of her sister-in-law.
    5. I couldn’t stand the behavior of Alan and Jennifer.
    6. The information of the ambassador was mostly incorrect.
    7. The voyages of Magellan and Columbus were controversial.
    8. The novels of Fitzgerald and Nabokov are among the most admired in modern literature.
    9. One of the most famous events in American history is the journey west of Lewis and Clark.
    10. Don’t forget the birthday of your mother-in-law.
    Answer
    1. The combined losses of the North and South (The North’s and South’s combined losses) were the greatest in any American war.
    2. The president took away some of the responsibilities of the chief-of-staff (the chief-of-staff’s responsibilities).
    3. We loved the shoes of George and Sara (George's and Sara's shoes).
    4. She was insulted by the rude remarks of her sister-in-law (her sister-in-law’s rude remarks).
    5. I couldn’t stand the behavior of Alan and Jennifer (Alan and Jennifer’s behavior).
    6. The information of the ambassador (The ambassador’s information) was mostly incorrect.
    7. The voyages of Magellan and Columbus (Magellan’s and Columbus’s voyages) were controversial.
    8. The novels of Fitzgerald and Nabokov (Fitzgerald’s and Nabokov’s novels) are among the most admired in modern literature.
    9. One of the most famous events in American history is the journey west of Lewis and Clark (Lewis and Clark’s journey west).
    10. Don’t forget the birthday of your mother-in-law (your mother-in-law’s birthday).

    Adapted from Fog City Fundamentals, Fourth Edition, Altman & Deicke, 1998.

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