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Possessive determiners indicate possession of someone, something, or some place. They use words such as myyourhisheritsour, and their before a noun. Possessive determiners are the same as possessive adjectives which are also used to show ownership.

 

Most of the words used as determiners are also used as pronouns. However, all the possessive determiners (and a few other determiners) cannot be used as pronouns as determiners are determiners and pronouns are pronouns. One has to be able to distinguish them in order to know how to use them correctly.

 

This table shows the possessive determiners.  

 

Singular

Plural

1st person

my

our

2nd person

your

3rd person

his

her 

its

their

 

 

Examples:

  • She looks just like her mother.
  • Your dog may have more fleas than mine as it scratched itself much more.

  • Its 

    back was bitten by a dog.

    .
  • Our dinner was delayed because mum was stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Their parents refused to visit him in prison.

     

 

 

 An adjective can come between the possessive determiner and a noun.

 

Examples:

  • You are my friend. / You are my real friend.
  • Who broke your glass? / Who broke your wine glass?

  • His leg was broken in two places. / His left leg was broken in two places.
  • That guy is her boyfriend. / That guy is her new boyfriend.
  • The dog is wagging its tail. / The dog is wagging its long tail.

  • Their

    house overlooks the lake. / Their beautiful house overlooks the lake.

 

 

The definite determiner the may be used instead of a possessive determiner. However, when referring to someone in the family or a relative, the may not be used.

 

Examples:

  • She punched him on his nose.
  • She punched him on the nose.
  • We walked back to our house when it started to rain.
  • We walked back to the house when it started to rain.

 

The definite determiner the may not be used.

  • No: The wife is watching me cook.
  • Yes: My wife is watching me cook. 
  • No: I called the uncle to hurry up. 
  • Yes: I called my uncle to hurry up.