Grammar

Possessives

  1. Special rules for possessives:

We can have two possessive’s forms together:

We are fed up with our neighbor’s tenants’ loud music.

If the possessive form consists of a compound noun or two or more nouns which form a single team or group, we add the ‘s to the last noun only:

Are you coming to my brother in law’s party? (compound noun)

I’m a great fan of Lerner and Lowe’s musicals. (they both wrote as a single team.)

When the nouns do not form a sing group we must use ‘s with both nouns:

Schrodinger’s and Heisenberg’s versions of quantum mechanics had seemed different. (two versions of a theory)

If the possessive noun is part of a prepositional phrase, we usually put the ‘s at the end of a phrase:

  1. Double possessives

We can use a double possessive – noun + of + noun (with possessive ‘s) – to show that first noun means ‘one of several’. We usually use the indefinite article with the pattern:

I heard the story from a friend of my brother’s. (= one of my brother’s friends)

We do not always include the possessive ‘s with the second noun:

They got the information from a friend of the owner.

  1. Specifying and classifying possessives

Specifying possessives show a relationship with something specific such as a person or place. They usually answer the question ‘Whose…?’

Marion washes the children’s clothes on Tuesdays. (= the clothes belonging to the children)

Classifying possessives describe the type of thing something is. They answer the question ‘What kind of…?’ and are similar to compound nouns.

Janice has opened a shop specializing in children’s clothes. (= clothes any children can wear)

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