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possessive determiner

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possessive determiner

Possessive determiners in English

Definition:

A determiner used in front of a noun to express possession or belonging (as in "my phone").

The possessive determiners in English are my, your, his, her, its, our, and their.

Possessive determiners are sometimes called possessive adjectives, weak possessive pronouns, or simply possessives.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers."
    (Mignon McLaughlin, The Complete Neurotic's Notebook. Castle Books, 1981)


  • "I'd like to be alone with my sandwich for a moment."
    (Bart Simpson, The Simpsons)


  • "He drifted off into sleep and Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place."
    (Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937)


  • "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."
    (Henry David Thoreau, Walden)


  • "You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward."
    (James Thurber, "The Bear Who Let It Alone")


  • "The sextant was old. I found it stacked up with a collection of gramophones and ladies' workboxes in a junkshop. Its brass frame was mottled green-and-black, the silvering on its mirrors had started to blister and peel off."
    (Jonathan Raban, "Sea-Room." For Love & Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling, 1969-1987. Collins Harvill, 1987)


  • "Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them."
    (Oscar Wilde)


  • "My hovercraft is full of eels."
    (John Cleese as the Hungarian in "The Hungarian Phrasebook Sketch." Monty Python's Flying Circus, Dec. 15, 1970)


  • "Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."
    (Albert Einstein)


  • "All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
    (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina)


  • Possessive Adjective or Determiner?
    "The title possessive adjective is actually more often used than possessive determiner but the latter is a more accurate description. Admittedly, in his car, the word his goes before the noun car and to that extent behaves as an adjective, but in *the his car (compare the old car) it shows itself not to be an adjective; it certainly doesn't describe the car itself."
    (Tony Penston, A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers, TP Publications, 2005)


  • Possessive Pronouns and Possessive Determiners
    "[The] construction with the possessive pronoun [e.g. a friend of mine] differs from the alternative of possessive determiner + noun (e.g. my friend) mainly in that it is more indefinite. The sentences in (30) below illustrates this point.
    (30) a. You know John? A friend of his told me that the food served at that restaurant is awful.

    (30) b. You know John? His friend told me that the food served at that restaurant is awful.
    The construction with the possessive pronoun, in (30a), can be used if the speaker hasn't specified and doesn't need to specify the identity of the friend. In contrast, the construction with the possessive determiner, in (30b), implies that the speaker and listener both know what friend is intended."
    (Ron Cowan, The Teacher's Grammar of English: A Course Book and Reference Guide. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008)
Also Known As: PD, possessive adjective, genitive pronoun, possessive determiner pronoun
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