possessive pronouns

Friday, February 6, 2009

Everyone claims to know these, but they keep getting them wrong.

  • his
  • hers
  • ours
  • mine
  • yours
  • theirs
  • its
Notice there's no apostrophe. Not a one. Anywhere.

Yes, yes, of course you know--but then why do you keep getting them wrong?

It's probably "its," which is always confused with "it's"--the contraction of "it is" and "it has." Sirens should go off when you see "hi's," "her's," "our's" etc. because those aren't words, but "it's" is.

There's no fast and easy way to remember when to use "its" and when to use "it's" other than knowing that possessive pronouns don't have apostrophes. Hopefully you can tell a possessive from a contraction, but if you can't, don't feel bad: No one else bothers to either.

Yet the possessives of indefinite pronouns, such as "somebody," "anybody," "anyone," "someone," etc., do have apostrophes:
Somebody's coat
Anybody's guess
Anyone's guess
Someone's coat

And if you think that's weird, some indefinite pronouns need an "of" to show possession!
rule of each
rule of all
rule of many