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Possessive Adjective

The possessive adjective can be understood as similar to the demonstrative adjective in its function: its purpose is to select one noun out of a broader class of nouns. The possessive adjective, though, focuses on relationship rather than location. For example, if you want to speak of a specific party, you can call it "his" party. The most important thing when using the possessive adjective is to make sure that gender and number match up with the owner.

What is a Possessive Adjective? 

The possessive adjective is one of the many classes of adjectives. As its name pretty much implies, the job of the possessive adjective is to tell you who the owner of a given noun is. By doing this, it separates out that noun from various other nouns not owned by that person.

We reccommend you read our blog post on how reading can make you a better writer.

When we say that we reccommend you to read "our blog post" the word "our" in that phrase is in fact a possessive adjective. 

Examples & Rules of Use

Here is an example of the possessive adjective being used in a grammatically correct way. 

"The mother was concerned by the fact that her son was not paying enough attention to his homework."

In this sentence, the word "her" is one possessive adjective, and the word "his" is another. 

Now, here is an example of the possessive adjective being used incorrectly. 

"The man at the grocery store wanted their vegetables delivered to his house, if possible."

This is incorrect usage because the possessive adjective "their" does not correspond to the owner of the vegetables ("the man"). 

In case you are still a little confused, below are a couple guidelines for you regarding the proper use of the possessive adjective. 

In order to pick which possessive adjective would be the correct one in a given sentence, you need to pay attention not to the noun to which it will be attached but rather to the owner of that noun. If a woman owns a comb, then you would say "her" comb, and not "its comb", because the possessive adjective must correspond to the woman and not to the comb 

Sometimes, in more poetic writing, different possessive adjectives may be used than in normal everyday use. For example, one could say that the Sun casts "his" rays upon the earth. This would be correct insofar as it is based on the personification of the Sun as a man, which is common in many of the mythological traditions of the world.

If you're still having trouble, and can use more information, visit our glossary for help with adverbs and adjectives.

A Broader Look at Possessive Adjectives

In a way, the possessive adjective is like the demonstrative adjective. This is because one of its main functions is to select out a specific noun from a broader field of nouns. For example, if you were to talk about "your" books, then this use of the possessive adjective makes it clear that you are talking about some specific set of books and not any other books. This is similar to what the demonstrative adjective does, insofar as talking about "your" books is conceptually similar to talking about "those" books. 

In addition, it is worth noting that since the possessive adjective addresses an actual kind of social relation in the world, whether it is being used properly may depend to some extent on whether it is actually telling the truth about a given situation. For example, it would be incorrect to talk about "your" books if the books were not in fact yours but rather someone else's. If they belonged to a sibling, you would need to say "his" or "her" books (unless you had some reason for making people think they were yours). 

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