Punctuation Errors in Possessive Pronouns

Hello! Today we’re going to be talking about some common punctuation mistakes people make with possessive pronouns.

Possessive pronouns show that something belongs to someone. The possessive pronouns are “my,” “our,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “its,” and “their.”

Possessive pronouns help keep things simple. Take a look at this sentence:

Ben ate Ben’s sandwich.

It sounds odd to use Ben’s name twice in the sentence, especially so close together. A possessive pronoun solves the problem:

Ben ate his sandwich.

Whew. That’s better. “His” is a pronoun that tells us the sandwich belongs to Ben, so we don’t have to use his name again.

Possessive pronouns are very handy, but they also provide an opportunity for some of the most common grammatical mistakes. Listen closely to what I’m about to say:

Possessive pronouns are never spelled with apostrophes.

Remember, if we want to make a proper noun or noun possessive, we just pop an apostrophe on the end like so:

Jane’s eyes were blue.

The apostrophe and “s” at the end of the word “Jane” tell us we’re talking about her eyes. But remember what I said earlier–you never do this with possessive pronouns. Let me give you an example.

I checked the TV, but it’s cord was broken.

Okay, this sounds alright if you read it out loud, but that apostrophe between the word “it” and the letter “s” is actually incorrect. The apostrophe takes the place of the letter “i” in the words “it is,” the same way the apostrophe in “don’t” takes the place of the letter “o” in the words “do not.” That means this sentence actually reads:

I checked the TV, but it is cord was broken.

That’s a bunch of nonsense. To make the sentence correct, you have to get rid of that apostrophe completely:

I checked the TV, but its cord was broken.

It’s one of the most common grammatical errors, but if you think about the rules for possessive pronouns for a split second every time you write “its” or “it’s,” you’ll never make this mistake again.

While we’re at it, that rule about apostrophes and possessive nouns can help you avoid another common grammatical mistake–have you ever accidentally mixed up “their” with an “ei” and “they’re” with an apostrophe “re”? You can remember that “they’re” is actually two words “they” and “are” put together in a contraction. “Their” with an “ei” is the possessive pronoun, and we have a failsafe we learned earlier that can help us choose which one to use.

Say it with me: possessive pronouns never have apostrophes.

So if I want to say, “their hearts were beating fast,” I could never use “they’re” with an apostrophe, because the word we’re using in this sentence is telling us who possesses the hearts in question.

This applies to the possessive pronoun “your” as well. Don’t ever substitute in “you’re” with an apostrophe–that’s a contraction of “you” and “are,” and it won’t work as a possessive pronoun. Also think of the word “who.” Take the following sentence as an example:

Whose camera is this?

“Whose” is the possessive pronoun form of “who.” It would be incorrect to write “who’s” with an apostrophe as a possessive pronoun, not only because “who’s” is a contraction of “who” and “is,” but because of our helpful rule that reminds us possessive pronouns never have apostrophes.

I hope this shed light on some common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them. Stay tuned for more helpful videos! See you guys next time!

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: October 6, 2021