Glossary: possessive


A form of noun (with ' or 's added) or pronoun that is often used to show possession.

A possessive can be:

  • a noun followed by an apostrophe, with or without s
  • a possessive pronoun.
  • Tariq’s book [Tariq has the book]
  • The boys’ arrival [the boys arrive]
  • That essay is mine. [I wrote the essay]

The relation expressed by a possessive goes well beyond ordinary ideas of ‘possession’. A possessive may act as a determiner.

  • His obituary [the obituary is about him]

The meaning of a possessive is not always 'possession' in a literal sense, e.g. John's arrival.

See also possessive adjective.


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