The Formation of the Possessive Case

The Formation of the Possessive Case

The Formation of the Possessive Case

A noun expresses its relation with the other noun in many forms. It may express possession, family or relations or other forms of links. In order to indicate these relations, we use an apostrophe (‘) and (s) with the end of the noun of living things or of with the inanimate things. 

How to use Apostrophe(‘)

1. We put an apostrophe (‘) at the end of singular nouns and then put (s) and also on irregular plural nouns. 

i). A girl’s book 

ii). A man’s best friend 

iii).  Women’s clothes

a) Irregular plurals nouns:

Irregular plurals nouns do not take s,es to make plural.


Woman Women 
Tooth Teeth 
Wife Wives 

b) Regular plural  nouns:

Regular plural nouns take s,es to make plural.


Boy Boys
Chair Chairs 
Pen Pens 

2. If the plural ends in s, we use apostrophe after the final. 

e.g. James’s book. ✖️ James’ book ✔️

Keats’s poetry ✖️ Keats’ poetry ✔️


(a) We add ‘s’ and apostrophe(‘) at the end of nouns and noun phrases to express a number of relationships as well as possession. 

  1. Possession: Ali’s house 
  2. Family relationships: Ali’s cousin
  3. Parts of the body: The patient’s leg
  4. Creation: Einstein’s theory 
  5. Places: Asia’s largest capital cities 
  6. Time: Two days’ holidays 
  7. Category: Children’s shoes


.i)  Book of Hamid. ✖️ Hamid’s book.✔️

 ii) Cat of my father. ✖️ My father’s cat.✔️

  iii) The tail of the cat. ✖️ The cat’s tail. ✔️

(b) If the owners of a thing are many but ownership is collective add ‘s’ and apostrophe(‘) to the least one. 

Ali’s, Aslam’s and Ahmed’s house. (Incorrect)

Ali, Aslam and Ahmed’s house.     (Correct)


a)  If the owners of a thing are separate add ‘s’ and apostrophe(‘) to every owner. 

 Ali, Aslam and Hamid’s house.  (Incorrect)

  Ali’s, Aslam’s and Hamid’s house. (Correct)

b) If a noun is made of two or more nouns then add apostrophe(‘)  to the least one.

My father’s in law’s house. (Incorrect)

My father in law’s house. (Correct)

c) When a non living thing is become living by personification, use apostrophe(‘) and ‘s’ to the least one.

  1. At death’s door.     
  2. At duty’s call.
  3. Fortune’s favorite.      
  4. Nature’s law.     
  5. Sorrow’s tears.

5. Use apostrophe with nouns denoting time, space and weight. 

Time: A day’s journey, a month’s holidays

  Three week’s leave. 

Space: A boat’s length, a hand’s breadth, a hair’s breadth, 

A stone’s throw,  a needle’s point. 

Weight: A pound’s weight, a ton’s weight.


i) He got holidays of a month.  (Incorrect)

He got a month’s holidays . (Correct)

ii). He lost sugar worth the weight of a pound.  (Incorrect)

He lost sugar worth a pound’s weight . (Correct)

Double possessive 

The term ‘Double’ possessive applies to nouns that indicate possession in a two fold way, 

First, by the use of a preposition ‘of’ and secondly  by the addition of the ‘apostrophe’ and the letter ‘s’. 


i). My brother’s secretary’s wife died yesterday. (Incorrect)

The wife of my brother’s secretary died yesterday.  (Correct)

ii) One of the passenger’s wife was killed in the accident.  (Incorrect)

The wife of one of the passengers was killed in the accident.  (Correct)

1. The words (his, hers, ours, mine, yours, theirs) are possessive but are never written with an apostrophe. 

Your’s sincerely. ✖️

Yours  sincerely. ✔️

2.The letter ‘s’ is omitted in a few words where too many hissing sounds come together. 

  1. For conscience’s sake. ✖️ for conscience’ sake.      ✔️
  2. For goodness’s sake. ✖️ for goodness’ sake.        ✔️
  3. For peace’s sake. ✖️ for peace’ sake.              ✔️
  4. For justice’s sake. ✖️ for justice’ sake.              ✔️

How to show possession of Inanimate Things 

3. When the possessor is a lifeless or inanimate thing ‘of’ is placed before the object. 

  1. Legs of the table 
  2. The roof of  a house. 
  3. The heat of the sun. 
  4. Walls of the room.

4.There are certain well known combinations which do not take a possessive case first Noun is used as a sort of adjective. 

This is often done to indicate the possession of something. 


  1. The door of hall. ✖️ Hall door. ✔️
  2. Transport of Lahore.✖️ Lahore transport. ✔️
  3. Shoes of tennis.✖️ Tennis shoes. ✔️
  4. Fever of spring. ✖️ Spring fever.✔️
  5. Cup of coffee. ✖️ Coffee cup.  ✔️

 5. Some ways in which these combination are used

  1. Second noun is the part of the first. 

College library, church bell. 

  1. The first noun can indicate the place of the second. 

City street, corner shop.

  1. The first noun can indicate the time of the second. 

       Summer holidays, November fog.

  1. The first noun can state the material of which the second is made.

           steel door, gold medal. 

6.In these compounds, the first word gives information about the second. It is like an adjective. It can say the following things about the second.

  1. What is it for ?

coffee cup, reading lamp

  1. What is about?  

telephone bill, detective story

  1. Where is it?

city street,  corner shop

  1. What is it made of?

steel door, stone wall

  1. What it produces?

fish farm,  car factory 

  1. When it is? 

summer holidays, Sunday paper

  1. What power fuel it uses?

Gas fire, petrol engine, oil stove.

Errors  in the use of possessive case


i)The table’s legs are old.  (Incorrect)

The legs of table are old.   (Correct)

ii) The shoes of tennis are old.  (Incorrect)

The tennis shoes are old. (Correct)

iii) This news has appeared in the paper of today.  (Incorrect)

This news has appeared in the today’s paper.  (Correct)

iv) Where sports of winter are played?  (Incorrect)

Where winter sports are played?  (Correct)

Hopefully, your concept about The Formation of the Possessive Case is clear now, This lecture is part of the whole series of English Grammar by Miss Nabila Gulzar, For Other Lectures Click Here also We have an Essay on every topic, Check the complete list here. If you are Studying in Matric Free Video Lectures of MathsPhysics and English are here, and if we got you covered for I.COM Business Maths also.