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Pronouns: Possessive Forms

Distinguish between the adjective form of the possessive pronoun and the form used alone.
  Examples The large room on the right is her office.
[Her is an adjective.]

The office is hers.
[Hers is the possessive form, standing alone.]

The little room on the left is mine.
[Mine is the possessive form, standing alone.]
 
Note that mine does not follow the spelling pattern of hers, theirs, yours, and ours. The form mines is not standard English.

When a possessive form functions as a subject, its antecedent determines singular or plural agreement for the verb.
  Examples My shirt is cotton; hers is silk.
[Singular verb]

My gloves are black; hers are yellow.
[Plural verb]

Possessive Pronoun Before an -ing Form

Generally, use a possessive pronoun before an -ing verb form used as a noun (a gerund):
  Examples We would appreciate your participating in the auction.

Their winning the marathon surprised us all.
 
Sometimes the -ing form is not used as a noun. In that case, the pronoun preceding the -ing form should usually be the object form.
  Example We saw them giving the runners foil wraps.


No Apostrophe with Possessive Pronouns

Even though possessive in meaning, the pronouns yours, ours, theirs, his, and hers should never be used with an apostrophe. Use an apostrophe only with the possessive form of a noun.
  Examples That coat is Maria's.

That is her coat.

That coat is hers.

These books are the twins'.

These are their books.

These books are theirs.

No Apostrophe with its as a Possessive Pronoun

It's is the contraction of it is or it has. The apostrophe is never used with a possessive form of the pronoun used before a noun:
  Examples The paint has lost its gloss.

It's [It is] not as glossy as it used to be.

Comparisons Using Possessive Forms

Note how using them in place of theirs in the following sentence would change the meaning by comparing suitcases to roommates, not suitcases to suitcases.
  Example It's really hard to be roommates with people if your suitcases are much better than theirs.
 
Forgetting to use the possessive form in the next example, too, could create a misunderstanding: are you comparing a house to a person, or his house to her house?
  Example I like his house more than I like hers.

[seealso.bmp]
See also
Personal Pronouns
Clear Reference
Agreement with Antecedent
Gender Bias
Point of View
Use of you
Intensive and Reflexive Pronouns
Who Whom, Whoever Whomever