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.
- 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.)
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.