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Lesson 1.2

Possessives

Los posesivos
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There are two types of possessives which are determined by their function in the sentence.

Possessive Determiners Example
  my   This is my house.
  your   This is your book.
  his   This is his bicycle.
  her   This is her dress.
  its   The dog doesn’t like to be on its own.
  our   These are our suitcases.
  your   These are your seats.
  their   These are their books.

Note: We only use the possessive pronoun “its” with the adjective “own”.

Possessive Pronouns Example
  mine   This book is mine.
  yours   Is this book yours?
  his   This bicycle is his.
  hers   The dress is hers.
  its   The house is its [the cat’s].
  ours   The suitcases are ours.
  yours   These seats are yours.
  theirs   This pencil is theirs.

Possessive determiners and pronouns vary according to the possessor and not to whether the object is in singular or plural, as in some other languages such as Spanish.

  my book,   his book,   my books,   his books…

Function

1. The possessive as determiner

These pronouns function as the determinative article of the noun that they accompany and therefore precede the object.

Examples:

 My car is blue.
 His house is big.

2. The possessive as pronoun

In this case, the possessive pronoun acts as a direct complement.

Examples:

 The blue car is mine.
 The big house is his.

Note: These examples respond to the question,“Whose is this?”.

Possessive Pronouns vs. the Genitive Case

The “-’s” termination which indicates the genitive is not to be confused with the possessive determiners. As such, we can say: :

 Her dress…

or:

 Andrea’s dress…

In both cases we are expressing a possession and a possessor; in this case, the dress. In the first sentence, the possessive determiner “her” indicates that both the speaker and the listener know who is being referred to; whereas in the second sentence, the speaker wants to acknowledge the name of the possessor.

Grammatical Rules

1. We always use the genitive to refer to people.

Examples:

 Paul’s house…
 Mary’s bike…

2. When we want to make reference to places or things we use the preposition “of”:

 The wheel of the bike…
 Washington is the capital of the United States.

3. We can also use the genitive at the end of a sentence when it is used in response to a prior question. In this case, we do not need to use the noun.

Examples:

Question :

 Where is your sister?

Answer:

 She is at my parents’.

Question:

 Whose house is this?

Answer:

 It is Michael’s.

4. When there is more than one possessor, the apostrophe comes after the “s”.

Examples:

 The girls’ toys….
 The students’ exams…

WARNING!
When the name of the possessor ends in “s”, we do not add the genitive “-’s” termination, but only the apostrophe after the “s” of the possessor’s name.

 Luis’ house…
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