We put a possessive adjective before a noun, just like another other adjective. As a reminder, the possessive adjectives are:

-my, your, his, her, its, our, your (plural), their

So let’s see some possessive adjectives in action:

~Hey, that’s my coat!

~I don’t know where your book is.

~Our cars are parked outside.

Let’s take a closer look at the last example, because this type of sentence can confuse students quite easily. Going back to the first two examples, you’ll notice that the nouns in those sentences are in the singular (coat, book), and the noun in the third sentence is in the plural (cars). Here, many students make the mistake of saying “ours cars,” using the possessive pronoun ‘ours’ instead of the possessive adjective ‘our.’ However, the fact that the noun is in the plural doesn’t change anything:

~Our car is red. (we only have one car)

~Our cars are red. (we have more than one car)

Note that in both examples, we use the same word (our). This is obviously different from Spanish:

~Nuestro coche es rojo.

~Nuestros coches son rojos.

An easy way to remember this is to remember that in English, adjectives never change; it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about one thing, or multiple things. Would we say “ten blues chairs?” No! It’s correct to say: “ten blue chairs.”

Now let’s turn to possessive pronouns. We use them instead of nouns. The possessive pronouns are:

-mine, yours, his, hers, ours, yours (plural), theirs

Here are a few examples of possessive pronouns:

~You can’t have it because it’s mine.

~I think that scarf is hers.

~Come on, guys, this title is ours!

Do you look at sentences sometimes and still not know if what you see is a possessive pronoun or a possessive adjective? Don’t worry; here’s an easy trick to use in order to know which type of word it is:

Just like ‘normal’ adjectives, possessive adjectives always go before a noun. So if you see a noun after the word in question, you know automatically that it’s a possessive adjective. If it doesn’t have a noun after it, then it’s a possessive pronoun. For example:

~That’s his tie. (Too easy! We have the noun ‘tie,’ so we know ‘his’ is a possessive adjective)

~That tie is his. (Is there a noun after ‘his’? No! Therefore we know it’s a possessive pronoun)

If you would like to quiz yourself on what you’ve learned, take a look at the exercise below!

A. Edstrom

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