Possessive Case of Nouns

One function of a noun is showing possession or ownership, which is done using the possessive case. The possessive case of nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an “s” to the end of a singular or plural noun. For example, if you wanted to show that something belonged to John, you would write “John’s.”

The possessive case of nouns adds precision and clarity to our written and spoken language. Therefore, knowing when and how to use it correctly creates a more concise sentence structure and facilitates effective communication.

What is a Possessive Case of a Noun?

The possessive case shows ownership of something. Adding an apostrophe and an “s” to the end of a singular or plural noun forms possessive nouns. Proper nouns always take the possessive case. Examples are Nintendo’s business model, Dr. Cruz’s clinic, Ruben’s phone, and Kyla’s notebook.

Another case of the noun that is interchangeably used with the possessive case is the genitive case. Instead of ownership, the genitive case implies that someone created something. Hence, it functions to attribute an output to someone. For example, Van Gogh’s paintings, Antonio Luna’s Spoliarium, bell hooks’ theory, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. One can convert genitive case by changing the possessive indicator (apostrophe + s) into “by,” such as in a painting by Van Gogh, Spoliarium by Antonio Luna, a theory by bell hooks, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

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Possessive Case of Noun Rules

In general, one forms the possessive case of a noun by using a possessive apostrophe (‘) followed by the letter ‘s.’ The guidelines for using the possessive form depend on the writing convention one follows. Let’s consider the Chicago Manual of Style compared to the Associated Press Style with singular nouns.

Chicago Manual of StyleAssociated Press Style
– Singular common nouns ending in the letter ‘s’ has the possessive form apostrophe + s.

The business’s products are popular.
The class’s professor walked out on them.
Singular common nouns ending in the letter ‘s’ has the possessive form apostrophe + s.

Texas’s tourism is booming.
The octopus’s tentacles are long, slimy, and powerful.

However, if the next word starts with the letter ‘s,’ only use an apostrophe.

Texas’ scenic spots were featured in the magazine.
The octopus’ slimy tentacles are a fascinating feature of this mysterious creature.
Use apostrophe + s for proper nouns ending in letter the ‘s.’

Mr. Williams’s suggestion is doable.
Iris’s start-up business won the competition.
Proper nouns ending in letter the ‘s’ only take an apostrophe for it possessive form.

Mr. Williams’ suggestion is doable.
Iris’ start-up business won the competition.
Table of Rules for Possessive Case of Nouns

The plural nouns, on the other hand, only take an apostrophe to form its possessive case. Here are a few examples:

  • The cats’ room is full of toys.
  • The workers’ union gained victory in their fight for working conditions.
  • The analysts’ report is due next week.
  • Her friends’ houses are all in the same neighborhood.
  • The Phillips’ cars are all parked in the driveway.
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Possessive Case of Noun Grammatical Functions

The possessive case of noun grammatical functions is a type of grammatical construction in which the noun expresses possession. It is often marked by the addition of an apostrophe and an s (‘s) at the end of a word. Here are the grammatical functions of possessive nouns:

Functions of Possessive NounsExamples
As a determiner or subject of the sentenceJames’ bag was stolen yesterday. (The bag of James was stolen yesterday.)

Lyra’s report is here. (The report of Lyra is here.)
Showing joint ownershipMalia and Farah’s parents are both doctors.

I found Andy and Renz’s dog roaming alone in the park.
Specifying what an object is made forShe gave me a month’s worth of supplies.

In a year’s time, he will relocate to Australia.
Specifying the what an object is made forThese women’s running shoes are very comfortable.

Jessie needs to have a driver’s license before turning eighteen.
Table of Grammatical Functions For Possessive Case of Nouns
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Examples Possessive Case of Noun

Here are fifteen sentences using the possessive case of nouns:

  1. My brother’s car is a bright red color.
  2. The teacher’s desk was cluttered with papers.
  3. We had to wait for the bus driver’s signal before crossing the street.
  4. The dog’s tail was wagging happily as it ran around the yard.
  5. The children’s laughter filled the room with joy.
  6. Her parents’ expectations were high.
  7. The company’s profits have been steadily increasing over the past year.
  8. My friend’s house is always full of pantry items.
  9. Tyler’s garden is full of beautiful flowers.
  10. The team’s performance was impressive in the tournament.
  11. Derrick’s room is always a mess!
  12. The Cabreras’ properties were all sold in the auction.
  13. Mike and Wilson’s project was a success.
  14. The child’s father was a famous artist.
  15. Today’s newspaper is full of news stories about the world’s current events. 

Possessive Case of Noun Exercise with Answers

Convert the nouns in the sentences below into possessive case and change the sentence accordingly.

1. That bag on the table belongs to Janice.

2. Those clothes in the store are made for men.

3. The sculpture created by Michelangelo is famous.

4. The organization gave Dustin food packs good for a week.

5. Ms. Turner owns that restaurant near the university.


1. Janice’s bag is on the table.

2. The store sells men’s clothes.

3. Michelangelo’s sculpture piece is famous

4. The organization gave Dustin a week’s worth of food packs.

5. Ms. Turner’s restaurant is near the university.

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Possessive Case of Noun List

Singular Possessive NounsPlural Possessive Nouns
girl’s locketgirls’ locket
teacher’s cornerteachers’ corner
grandmother’s recipegrandmothers’ recipe
man’s sport activitymen’s sport activity
a day’s expensesthree days’ expenses
captain’s officecaptains’ office
doctor’s roomdoctors’ room
student’s outputstudents’ output
lover’s vowlovers’ vow
child’s toychildren’s toy
Possessive Case of Nouns Table

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

English grammar, like any language, is a complex subject to study. Understanding and applying grammar rules can be challenging, especially for English language learners. However, your success in learning the language is dependent on your learning plan.

First, know that there are different levels of language proficiency. Knowing your status allows you to align it with your study materials and learning strategy. To keep your motivation, select beginner-friendly materials instead of university textbooks when starting. In doing so, you will feel less intimidated by the topics you should learn.

Second, focus on the basics: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Learn how to use them correctly in sentences and understand their meaning. It will help you build a strong foundation for your English language learning journey. Divide those topics into subtopics and learn each concept and rule one by one.

Third, find a reliable source of learning materials. Online resources such as websites, blogs, and YouTube videos are mostly free. LillyPad’s blog, for example, is a great resource for English language learning materials. Additionally, you can find books and other printed materials in your local library or bookstore.

Fourth, practice speaking the language with native speakers or other English learners. It will help you understand how to use the language correctly in conversations and improve your pronunciation.

Finally, be patient with yourself and don’t give up. Learning a language takes time and effort, so set realistic goals and celebrate your achievements along the way.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand cases of nouns, object of the preposition and transitive.

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Common Errors Made by English Learners

Learning a new language can be difficult, and English is no exception. Even experienced English learners make mistakes when speaking or writing in the language. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by English learners:

Common MistakeWhy it HappensCorrectionExamples
Using possessive case with inanimate objectsSince nouns take a possessive form, learners tend to convert inanimate objects into the possessive case.Use “of phrase” or “for phrase” instead of converting inanimate objects into the possessive case.Incorrect: The hotel’s lobby is well-decorated.

Correct: The lobby of the hotel is well-decorated.

Also correct: The hotel lobby is well decorated.

Incorrect: I need a laptop’s charger.

I need a charger for a laptop.

Also correct: I need a laptop charger.
Using apostrophe with possessive pronouns yours, hers, ours, and theirs.Some learners use colloquial or informal English when instant messaging, wherein using an apostrophe with possessive pronouns is prevalent. Another reason why this mistake happens is the notion that words always have their possessive form.The possessive pronouns yours, hers, ours, and theirs do not need an apostrophe. They stand on their own.Incorrect:

This house is ours’.

That project is theirs’.

The car is hers’.


This house is ours.

That project is theirs.

The car is hers.
Possessive Case of Nouns Common Errors Table
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Learning Strategies and Best Practices for Possessive Case of Noun

A holistic approach to learning a language makes it easier to understand and remember. The five macro skills, reading, listening, viewing, speaking, and writing, should be developed and used in the learning process for better language acquisition. The table below lists activities you can do when learning linking verbs:

Learning Strategies
Reading– Use flashcards to know basic English sight words and their meaning.
– Search for material that contains translations of common expressions from your native language to English.
– Select study materials appropriate for your language proficiency.
Listening– Listen to an audiobook or a song and write what you hear to improve your retention of English words.
– Compare and contrast two audio materials like TV ads and a speech.
– Summarize a podcast, movie, audiobook, and other English audio materials.
Viewing– Observe how native speakers speak and try to mimic it.
– Watch English movies, interviews, and tutorials.
– Use pictographs to learn and remember new words.
Speaking– Join a community of English language learners and communicate with them to improve and gain feedback.
– Integrate the language into your daily life and try to speak using English.
– Participate in speech organizations (e.g. debate clubs, theatre groups)
Writing– Write a journal of your learning journey in English.
– Answer practice tests and create your own sentences.
– Create a reflection essay on the media you watch or listen to.
Possessive Case of Nouns Learning Strategies Table
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Possessive Case of Noun Frequently Asked Questions

The possessive case is a property of a noun that indicates possession or ownership. It is formed by adding an apostrophe and the letter “s” to the end of a noun or pronoun. Examples of the possessive case include John’s car, the cat’s tail, my friend’s house, their parent’s advice, and her teacher’s desk.

A possessive noun contains an apostrophe and the letter ‘s’ and shows ownership or possession. For example, “Mariah’s beach house” means that a beach house is owned by Mariah.

1. My friend’s house is located near the church.
2. Their parents’ advice was always wise and helpful.
3. Dana and Cecil’s original plan was to go on a road trip.
4. Baldwin’s dog was barking at the postman.
5. His father-in-law’s antique collection was impressive.

The genitive and possessive cases have similarities but they are not exactly the same. Both use an apostrophe and an ‘s’ (‘s) to show possession. However, the genitive case following the apostrophe + s formula attributes an output to a person (e.g., Shakespeare’s play). Meanwhile, the possessive case expresses possession of something (e.g., Damian’s bookshelf).

Yes, possessive nouns can show joint ownership. For example: “John and Mary’s house” means that the house is owned by both John and Mary.

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Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts

For learners of all ages striving to improve their English, LillyPad combines the most scientifically studied and recommended path to achieving English fluency and proficiency with today’s most brilliant technologies!

What’s the one thing that makes LillyPad so special? Lilly! Lilly’s a personal English tutor, and has people talking all over the world! Lilly makes improving your English easy. With Lilly, you can read in four different ways, and you can read just about anything you love. And learning with Lilly, well that’s what you call liberating!

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At LillyPad, everything we do is focused on delivering a personalized journey that is meaningful and life-changing for our members. LillyPad isn’t just the next chapter in English learning…

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