What are Possessive Pronouns?

Possessive pronouns indicate ownership (possession) of something, and like other pronouns, function simply the replacement team for nouns or noun phrases that run the risk of sounding repetitive.

The possessive pronouns in the English language are:
mine, yours, his, hers, ours, and theirs. Possessive pronouns help us show possession in a sentence, and are used quite frequently, as the following examples show: 

  • My bus is delayed by an hour.
  • Your breakfast is on the table.
  • Could you please bring her coffee out to her?
  • I would have invited them, but I heard they are out of town.

Types of Possessive Pronouns:

There are two types of possessive pronouns:

Strong (or absolute) possessive pronouns refer back to a noun or noun phrase already used, replacing it to avoid repetition. These pronouns are mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, yours, and theirs. For example: “I said that bicycle was mine.”

Weak possessive pronouns (or possessive adjectives) function as determiners in front of a noun to describe who something belongs to. These pronouns are my, your, his, her, its, our, your, and their. For example: “I said that’s my bicycle.”

Possessive Pronouns for Consistency

Possessive pronouns help us to be more concise when explaining an idea. The fewer words you use, the better the listener or reader will follow what you are trying to communicate. Consider the following examples:

  • Those are his Legos. They are not your Legos.
  • Those are his Legos. They are not yours.
  • I forgot my pen for class today. Can I borrow your pen?
  • I forgot my pen for class today. Can I borrow yours? 
  • I like my ice cream with sprinkles. Do you like sprinkles as well?
  • I like my ice cream with sprinkles. Do you like them as well?
  • We traded our car for a new one. This is our car now. 
  • We traded our car for a new one. This is ours now.

As you can see, possessive pronouns make each example easier to follow by avoiding repetition.

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