What Is a Possessive Pronoun?

If you know what a pronoun is, you can probably figure out what a possessive pronoun is. But you may be thinking of possessive adjectives instead. So what is a possessive pronoun? Take a look at these possessive pronouns examples to clarify what these little words are, how they function and how they’re different from possessive adjectives.

possessive pronouns chart possessive pronouns chart
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Defining Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns do exactly what it seems like they should do. Like all pronouns, they replace nouns in a sentence. Possessive pronouns help us show a noun’s possession or ownership. However, they are different from possessive adjectives.

  • Possessive pronouns (also called “absolute” or “strong” possessive pronouns) are mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, yours, and theirs. They replace a noun or noun phrase already used, replacing it to avoid repetition: "I said that phone was mine."

  • Possessive adjectives (also called “weak” possessive pronouns) are my, your, his, her, its, our, your, and their. They function as determiners in front of a noun to describe who something belongs to. For example: "I said that's my phone."

Generally, you use possessive pronouns to talk about a person, place or thing that has already been explained. They prevent repetition in a sentence.

Possessive Pronouns List

Now that you understand how they work, try using some of these possessive pronouns in your own sentences. Here's a reminder of the possessive forms:

Subject Pronoun

Possessive (absolute)

Possessive (adjective)

I

Mine

My

You

Yours

Your

He

His

His

She

Hers

Her

It

Its

Its

We

Ours

Our

They

Theirs

Their

Notice that some possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives are the same, such as with his and its. However, in most cases, the word you choose depends on how you're using it.

Examples of Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns help us to be more concise and use fewer words when explaining the same idea. Take a look at the examples below and see if you can understand one sentence better than the other:

  • Those are my Converse sneakers. They are not your Converse sneakers.

  • Those are my Converse sneakers. They are not yours.

  • I didn't have my textbook for English class, so Brian lent me his textbook.

  • I didn't have my textbook for English class, so Brian lent me his.

  • Your travel plans sound just as exciting as my travel plans!

  • Your travel plans sound just as exciting as mine!

Practicing with possessive pronouns is the best way to familiarize yourself with them. Check out these examples that use italics for possessive adjectives and bold for absolute possessive pronouns.

  • Your cat is adorable, but not as cute as ours.

  • My pen won't work, can I borrow yours?

  • The jewelry that the police accused Mr. Jones of stealing turned out to be his all along.

  • Jim burned his dinner, so he asked Tina if he could share hers.

Remember, possessive pronouns don't just substitute nouns, they show possession over a person, a place or a thing. Unlike possessive adjectives, however, they can stand alone.

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Possessive Pronoun Quiz

As both possessive forms are used to describe ownership, it can be easy to confuse them. Below are some sentences that contain possessive pronoun mistakes. Can you fix them? (Answers are below.)

  1. His paintings were very colorful, but I liked hers paintings better.

  2. Mine eyes are the color blue.

  3. I like listening to Bruno Mars more than Michael Jackson, but he dance moves are far more iconic.

If you’d like more practice with possessive pronouns and adjectives, take a pronoun quiz to test your skills. You can also play a few pronoun games for a fun review activity!

Answers for Pronoun Quiz Questions

How did you do? Check your answers below.

  1. His paintings were very colorful, but I liked hers her paintings better.

  2. Mine My eyes are the color blue.

  3. I like listening to Bruno Mars more than Michael Jackson, but he his dance moves are far more iconic.

Simplify Your Sentences

Being concise is the name of the game no matter what type of material you're drafting. Try to make a conscious effort to replace complex possessive structures with simpler possessive pronouns in your everyday speech and writing. Use some helpful pronoun worksheets to memorize them faster.