• The Possessive
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  • 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 (the Spencers, house). We want to try out Phil's new TV (Phil, new TV). Who is Phil? A friend of Alex' (a friend, Alex). Alright. Whose father will take you home again? John's (John). So, Darling, would you like to bring a bag of chps (a bag, chips) and two bottles of coke (two bottles, coke) then? Yeah, why not. I hope this time it will go much better than last week's game (last week, game). Who is even playing tonight?
Germany's team (Germany, team) and Sweden's team (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