• The Possessive
  • anonym
  • 30.06.2020
  • Englisch
  • A1
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How and when do we use the Pos­ses­si­ve Forms?

Pos­ses­si­ve forms are used in order to show a re­la­ti­on­ship bet­ween nouns. In most cases, ow­ner­ship is ex­pres­se­d. The ad­van­ta­ge of using this gram­ma­ti­cal form is that it is s­horter than other al­ter­na­ti­ves. For ex­am­ple, in­s­tead of say­ing the car which be­longs to my uncle you can quick­ly say my uncle's car.

The form which was just used, is cal­led the s-​Genitive. Howe­ver­, there is another pos­ses­si­ve form cal­led the of-​phrase. Now we will break down the main dif­fe­ren­ces bet­ween them.

The s-​Genitive

We use it if we want to know to whom so­me­thing be­longs.
This in­clu­des peo­ple and ani­mals.

The noun we refer to is al­ways placed after the re­fer­ring one. We add eit­her an 's or ' to the re­fer­ring noun and place the other one be­hind it.
Ex­am­ple: Steve's car

Below, you can see the rules in de­tail.

The of-​Phrase

We use it if we want to know to what so­me­thing be­longs.
This in­clu­des in­ani­ma­te ob­jec­ts.

The noun we refer to is al­ways placed be­fo­re the re­fer­ring one. Bet­ween them, we place an of.
Ex­am­ple: the co­lour of the hat

How to use the s-​Genitive

How to use the of-​Phrase

owner + s-​Genitive + owned item

of-​phrase = owned item + of + owner

kind of noun





my mo­ther's fri­end

name en­ding with s/x


Max' sis­ter
James's pen

plu­ral en­ding with "s


the stu­dents' ho­me­work

plu­ral not en­ding with s


the child­ren's book


the end of the film

the dog's ball
the dogs' ball
Further usage of the s-​Genitive

You can use pro­nouns such as an­yo­ne, ever­y­bo­dy, so­me­o­ne etc. in­s­tead of a noun.
You can also leave out the noun.
Ex­am­ple: Whose rub­ber is this? - It's Maria's (rub­ber).

It can also in­di­ca­te a lo­ca­ti­on.
Ex­am­ple: I'll have din­ner at the Mil­lers' (house).
Time can be spe­ci­fyed, as well.
Ex­am­ple: I skip­pe­d yes­ter­day's class.

Further usage of the of-​Phrase

The of-​Phrase can be used for me­asu­re­ments and quan­ti­ties.
Ex­am­ple: two bot­t­les of water, a liter of juice, a slice of pizza

Mo­reo­ver, you can use it for spe­ci­fic con­text­s and sayings.
Ex­am­ple: a post­card of Ber­lin, the month of July, the role of the te­acher

Plea­se keep in mind that...
... when you would usual­ly use the of-​phrase, but a con­nec­tion to peo­ple is ob­vious, the s-​Genitive should be used. Ex­am­ple: Spain's e­co­no­my, the go­ver­n­ment's de­cis­i­on
...you use the of-​genitive for peo­ple in case they are further spe­ci­fyed in a sub­clau­se.
Ex­am­ple: She is the Mom of the stu­dent which has s­traight A's.
...both forms are com­bi­ne­d when using in­de­fi­ni­te ar­ti­cles, nu­me­rals and other de­ter­mi­ners.
Ex­am­ple: a fri­end of Tim's in­s­tead of Tim's fri­end


Use the given words in bra­ckets to form the cor­rect pos­ses­si­ve form!

Tom talks to his mo­ther about his plans to­night. Mom, this eve­ning, my fri­ends and I would like to watch the soc­cer game at (the Spen­cers, house). We want to try out (Phil, new TV). Who is Phil? (a fri­end, Alex). Al­right. Whose father will take you home again? (John). So, Dar­ling, would you like to bring (a bag, chips) and (two bot­t­les, coke) then? Yeah, why not. I hope this time it will go much bet­ter than (last week, game). Who is even play­ing to­night?
(Ger­ma­ny, team) and (S­we­den, team). Oh, no! I'm late! See you, Mom.

Ima­gi­ne you are a radio host com­men­ting on a soc­cer game. Write down what you would say. Don't for­get to use as many dif­fe­rent kinds of pos­ses­si­ves as you can! Feel free to use your dic­tio­n­a­ry.
Af­ter­wards, pre­sent your text in front of the class.
  • Here is some vo­ca­bu­la­ry you might want to use:
    de­fen­se, of­fen­se, mid­fiel­d
    kick­off, cor­ner kick, pe­nal­ty kick, throw-​in
    foul, pass, re­fe­ree