Grammar Series: Yours, Mine, and Ours

its-vs.-its1

One of the first punctuation rules we learn is that to form the possessive form of a singular noun, you add an apostrophe ‘s’ to the end of the word. Here are some examples.

      • Nature’s way = the way of nature.
      • Bob’s mustache = the mustache of Bob.
      • The clown’s mask = the mask worn by the clown.

If the noun ends in ‘s,’ you just add an apostrophe. Like this:

  • Girls’ giggles = the giggles of the girls.
  • Cars’ safety features = the safety features of the cars.
  • Willis’ house = the house belonging to the Willis family.

And that all works great, as long as the noun is not a pronoun (You, me, us, and so on). It won’t work there. See?

  • “You’s smile” does not equal “the smile of you.”
  • “Me’s face” does not equal “the face of me,” and
  • “Us’ meeting” does not equal “the meeting of us.”

Nope. Won’t work. Instead, those possessives look like this: “your smile,” “my face,” and “our meeting.” There’s no rule for these; you just have to learn them. There’s a bunch of them too. Take a look.

Pronoun Possessive
Me, I Mine or My
You Your
He, She, It His, Hers, Its
We, Us Ours
They, Them Their or Theirs
Who Whose

These are all pretty easy—we learned them as we were learning language. There’s only one that’s tricky: “its.” We often want to include the apostrophe. But it doesn’t belong there. This chart will show why.

Pronoun Pronoun  Contraction = meaning
He He’s = He is
She She’s = She is
Who Who’s = Who is
It It’s = It is

So don’t be tempted to add an apostrophe to the possessives of pronouns.  It’s just not necessary.

 

 

About the Author Aileen Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.

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2 comments
Elizabeth Edwards says April 28, 2013

Hi, Aileen. As one who grew up in the Jones clan, I learned one small caveat to this rule: For proper names that end in "s," there is no hard and fast rule about making them possessive, but the accepted usage is to add an apostrophe only for multisyllabic names that end in "s" (such as Edwards') but to add an apostrophe and an "s" to names with only one syllable (such as Jones's). Isn't the English language fun? 🙂

Reply
    Aileen Lawrimore says April 28, 2013

    Very cool. I didn't know this. I so so love grammar!

    Reply
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