Two forms of the possessive

December 28, 2010pdf

The possessive has two forms:

  • my / mine
  • your / yours
  • his / his
  • their / theirs
  • our / ours

The forms my, your, his, their and our are called possessive adjectives. They are used to modify nouns.

  • That is my car.
  • His mother bought him a nice present.
  • I went to their place yesterday.

The forms mine, yours, his, theirs and ours are called possessive pronouns. They can be the subject or complement of a verb.

Compare:

  • This is my pen. OR This pen is mine. (NOT This pen is my.) (NOT This is mine pen.)
  • My dog is very smart. What about yours? (NOT What about your?)
  • This land is ours. OR This is our land. (NOT This land is our.) (NOT This is ours land.)

Double possessive

We cannot use an article and a possessive together. We cannot, for example, say ‘He is a my friend’. Instead we say ‘He is a friend of mine’. Here the structure ‘a friend of mine’ is an example of what is called the ‘double possessive’.

  • A cousin of mine got into the civil service last year. (NOT A my cousin …)
  • He got the President’s award for a novel of his.

When used with that, this, these and those the double possessive may express slight contempt or indignation.

  • Those dirty fingers of yours have stained my walls.
  • That boy of yours has broken my window again.
  • That cat of yours has drank up all the milk.
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