Limiting Adjective - Possessive

Possessive adjectives are used to show who owns something.

Overly possessive adjectives are adjectives that call you every hour on the hour, and comment "look at my bae" on all your Instagram posts.

Here's a list of possessive adjectives:

  • My
  • Your
  • His
  • Her
  • Its
  • Our
  • Their
  • Whose


"Our company picnic will be held at Disneyland."

We don't know what kind of business this is, but it sounds awesome. We at Shmoop live for Space Mountain. In this example, the possessive adjective our modifies the noun company to specify whose company it is.

"Vanessa is a talented artist. Her sculpture of Danny DeVito tying his shoes recently sold for $3,000 at auction."

Here, we use the possessive adjective her to show that the sculpture belongs to Vanessa, and we use the possessive adjective his to show that the undoubtedly tiny shoes belong to Mr. DeVito.

"Your friend Brittany borrowed my blender to make peanut butter and durian fruit smoothies but never returned it. Can you give me her number?"

In this example, your shows that Brittany is a friend that "belongs" to you, while my shows that the blender is yours as well. Her indicates that the digits you're after belong to Brittany the blender stealer. You may not want that blender back after Brittany's blended all of that durian, though. While the fruit has a delicious, custardy, almond flavor, it smells like a mixture of sewage, onions, and turpentine. In fact, its smell is so noxious that it's been banned from several hotels and public transportation in Asia.


Common mistakes

The difference between its and it's is like the difference between sweet and sour, summer and winter, Buffy the movie and Buffy the show.

Even so, EVERYONE STILL GETS IT WRONG. (And yes, we're yelling. This one makes us mad.) Here's how it goes:

The word it's is a contraction for it is or it has.

The word its is a possessive adjective that shows what it owns.

Need help remembering it?

That apostrophe in "it's" takes the place of something else—the second I in "it is" or the H and A in "it has." If you're not saying "it is" or it has," lose the apostrophe. Okay, okay—this isn't the case with other possessive adjectives, like Mary's hamster, the hamster's wheel, and the wheel's loose we understand why people mess it up. (Hey, we didn't invent English.)

Keep in mind that other possessive adjectives like her, our, and your don't end in S, though, so they never accidentally have apostrophes. If these ended in S, they'd be pronouns, like in the sentence: I didn't know what to do with yours. Confusing, we know.


"Perfect Pretzels, that gourmet pretzel store downtown, really lived up to its name."


"I really don't understand it's bad reviews on Yelp."

Which sentence is correct?

The first one. The possessive adjective its modifies the noun name to show ownership. The second sentence is incorrect because it uses the contraction it's when it should use the possessive adjective its to note that the bad review belongs to Perfect Pretzels.


The word your is a possessive adjective that shows that something belongs to you.

You're is a contraction for you are. The apostrophe stands in for the missing A.


"Sorry, Mom—I didn't know it was your twentieth wedding anniversary."


"Your not expecting a gift or anything, are you?"

Which sentence is correct?

The first one. Your is a possessive adjective that shows that the milestone anniversary belongs to your mom—and probably whoever she's married to. In the second sentence, you should use the contraction you're which means you are.

You should also probably use your next paycheck to buy your darling mother something nice.

Triple threat time.

The word their is a possessive adjective that shows that something belongs to them.

They're is a contraction for they are. The apostrophe stands in for the missing A.

There can be a lot of things: noun, adverb, interjection, adjective, or pronoun; it usually means "[in] that place."


"Don't sit there! The kids' imaginary friend is on that seat and they're going to flip if their BFF Bubbleface gets squished."

What a beautiful sentence. Translated, it reads like this:

Don't sit in that place! The kids' imaginary friend is on that seat and they are going to flip if the kids' BFF Bubbleface gets squished.


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