Grammar - Conventions of Standard English - Possessive Nouns

Stanley at his piano!

Grammar - Conventions of Standard English - Possessive Nouns

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Possessive nouns communicate ownership of something and/or show that something belongs to a particular person, place or thing. The possession is often shown with the use of an apostrophe (’) and an 's' at the end of a word.

As an example, let’s look at the following two sentences.

Jason has a twin sister.

She is Jason’s sister.

In the first sentence we learn that Jason has a sister. In the second sentence we learn that the sister belongs to Jason. To show that she belongs to him, an apostrophe (’) followed by an 's' shows that possession.

An apostrophe (’) and an 's' are used at the end of a noun when the noun is singular. If the noun is plural or if the word ends in an 's', then only the apostrophe (’) is used. For example, if Jason was changed to James, rather than it being 'James’s sister', it should be written as 'James’ sister'. The second 's' is not needed here.

1.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

The eagle is my ________ mascot.
schools'
school's
bird
color
The words bird and color are nouns and do not show possession. The word schools’ does show possession but it is plural and not the possessive noun we are looking for. On the other hand, the word school’s is a singular possessive noun and the answer we are looking for.
2.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

Can you put this potato in the _________ bag?
burlap
potato
potatoes
potatoes'
The words burlap, potato and potatoes are all common nouns. In this sentence they would also act as adjectives in that they describe what kind of a bag it is. We are looking for a possessive noun, however, so potatoes’ is the correct answer here.
3.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

Carrie found a ten dollar bill under the ______ cushion.
red
fluffy
torn
couch's
The words red, fluffy and torn all describe the condition of the cushion so they are not possessive words. The word couch’s shows us that the cushion belongs to the couch.
4.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

My grandfather belonged to the Old __________ Club for years.
Gentlemen's
men
man
scary
The words men and man are common nouns and do not show possession. Scary is an adjective as it describes the club. The word Gentlemen’s shows possession and even though it is plural, because it does not end with an 's', an 's is added after the apostrophe.
5.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

What does your ________ flag look like?
country
country's
countries
countries'
The words country and countries are common nouns so they are not what we are looking for. The word countries’ is plural possessive but we are looking for a single country. Therefore, the correct answer is country’s flag.
6.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

Did you see all of the ________ bottles?
babies'
baby
wee
dirty
The word baby is a singular noun and does not show possession. The words wee and dirty are adjectives and tell us about the condition of the bottles. They do not show possession. The word babies’ is possessive and since it ends in an 's', an additional 's' is not needed.
7.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

We looked everywhere but we couldn’t find my ______ bone.
dog
white
leg
dog's
The words dog and leg are common nouns and in this sentence could be used as adjectives in describing what kind of bone it was. The word white is an adjective so it is not the correct answer. The word dog’s is a singular possessive noun and the answer we are looking for.
8.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

Jimmy just got married. His ______ name is Stacey.
girl
wives
wife's
girls'
The word girl is singular and does not show possession. The word wives is plural of wife and it does not show possession. The word girls’ shows possession but is plural. That leaves us with wife’s name. This shows that his wife owns the name Stacey.
9.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

Martha was really looking forward to her ________ summer outing.
companies
upcoming
company's
favorite
The word companies is a plural noun - meaning more than one company. The words upcoming and favorite are adjectives describing the summer outing. The word company’s shows us possession as the summer outing belongs to the company.
10.
For the blank in the sentence below, find the word that shows the correct possessive.

Stanley sat squarely on the _______ bench.
pianoe
pianos'
piano's
small
The word pianoe is a misspelled word. The word pianos’ is a plural possessive noun but Stanley can only sit on one bench. The word small is an adjective as it describes the bench. Finally, we have piano’s which is a singular possessive noun and the answer we are looking for.
Author:  Christine G. Broome

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