How to form the possessive

This topic how to form the possessive is so important. The possessive form is used with nouns referring to people, groups of people, countries, and animals. It shows a relationship of belonging between one thing and another. To form the possessive, add apostrophe + s to the noun. If the noun is plural, or already ends in s, just add an apostrophe after the s.
EXAMPLES
  • the car of John = John's car
  • the room of the girls = the girls' room
  • clothes for men = men's clothes
  • the boat of the sailors = the sailors' boat
For names ending in s, you can either add an apostrophe + s, or just an apostrophe. The first option is more common. When pronouncing a possessive name, we add the sound /z/ to the end of the name.
EXAMPLES
  • Thomas's book (or Thomas' book)
  • James's shop (or James' shop)
  • the Smiths's house (or the Smiths' house)
FUNCTIONS OF THE POSSESSIVE
'Belonging to' or 'ownership' is the most common relationship the possessive expresses.
EXAMPLES
  • John owns a car. = It is John's car.
  • America has some gold reserves. = They are America's gold reserves.
The possessive can also express where someone works, studies or spends time
EXAMPLES
  • John goes to this school. = This is John's school.
  • John sleeps in this room. = This is John's room.
The possessive can express a relationship between people.
EXAMPLES
  • John's mother is running late.
  • Mrs Brown's colleague will not be coming to the meeting.
The possessive can express intangible things as well.
EXAMPLES
  • John's patience is running out.
  • The politician's hypocrisy was deeply shocking.
FIXED EXPRESSIONS
There are also some fixed expressions where the possessive form is used.
EXAMPLES WITH TIME
  • a day's work
  • a month's pay
  • today's newspaper
  • in a year's time
OTHER EXAMPLES
  • For God's sake! (= exclamation of exasperation)
  • a stone's throw away (= very near)
  • at death's door (= very ill)
  • in my mind's eye (= in my imagination)
The possessive is also used to refer to shops, restaurants, churches and colleges, using the name or job title of the owner.
EXAMPLES
  • Shall we go to Luigi's for lunch?
  • I've got an appointment at the dentist's at eleven o'clock.
  • Is Saint Mary's an all-girls school?

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