The Adjective in English: Emphasizing the Possessive Adjective

What is an adjective?

An adjective “modifies” a noun. That means it tells us something about the noun. Adjectives are used to describe nouns.

An adjective describes how something ‘is’. For this reason, we often use the verb ‘to be’ when using adjectives. He is a good doctor. They are happy.

They almost always go before the noun in English. beautiful trees, fat man, red apple, a big truck. NOT: a truck big.

The adjective is always invariable. Unlike how they behave in other languages, adjectives in English do not change with singular or plural , masculine, feminine nouns, or neuter.

?Adjectives in English don’t have a singular and plural form OR a masculine, feminine and neuter form. Big rooster, big chicken, big chickens, big roosters, a red car, ten red cars, one red flower, ten red flowers

?Adjectives are always the same! Never add a final “s” to an adjective. It is red apples, NOT: reds apples

Possessive Adjective

Many English learners have trouble with the possessive adjectives: my, your, his, her, its, our, and their. They are called possessive because they refer to possession; they tell us to whom something belongs, or who is the owner of something.

Many learners read more make the mistake of writing, “The boy saw her sister”. They make this mistake because they know that the word sister is feminine and they want to make the possessive adjective agree with the noun sister. They probably do this because in their language the adjective always has to agree in gender with the noun. But in English the adjective does not change.

The correct form is “The boy saw his sister”. We will see that in English the possessive adjective has the gender (masculine or feminine) according to the person who is the possessor or owner of the thing under discussion. In our example, it is a boy who has the relation to the sister, so it is HIS sister not HER sister. although of course the sister is feminine. If you were writing about a girl, it has to be her brother.

It doesn’t matter if my John’s cousin is a boy or a girl, you will always write his cousin. Joe is his cousin and Martha is his cousin. It is the same with Mary’s cousins; they are her cousins. Alphonse is her cousin just as Mathilde is her cousin.

The possessive adjective his and her only refer to human beings, not for other beings such as a dog, a house, etc. There is a special possessive adjective for this beings: its. Learn right now that is is NOT it’s.


In English, the dog has its tail, and the house has its patio.

Let’s look at the possessive adjective with different types of nouns.

?People: (as explained above)
Joe is his cousin, Martha is his cousin.

?Ideas and Natural Phenomena:
The sea sends its storms. Nature shows its beauty.

The chicken hides its eggs. The cat cleans its fur.

The horse eats its food. It is usually wrong to write: “The horse eats his food”, unless you want to clarify that it is a stallion and not a mare you are writing about. However, nowadays in the United States, most people live in cities and could not distinguish he gender of the animals they talk about. So you usually would not make a difference in our writing.

?Lifeless things:
Every house has its patio.


It is only in the third person singular that the possessive adjective changes according to the gender of the possessor or owner, NOT of the thing possessed. The possessor can be masculine, feminine, or neuter.

Remember that we just saw that you should write “The boy saw his sister”. And the girl has her brother.

However, there is no change according to the gender of the possessed when they are plural. The possessive adjective for more than one thing is always their.

The children’s parents are their parents.

Birds and airplanes have their wings.
All the dogs have their masters.

?Ideas and Natural Phenomena:
The glory of the concepts Libert? Egalit?y Fraternit?reside in their appeal to the human heart.
Sunsets have their special beauty.
All the gardens have their flowers.

The following chart may help you plan your writing:

Grammar of Love
The possessive adjective

Man:He loves his father.He loves his mother.
More than one man:They love their father.They love their mother.

Woman:She loves her father.She loves her mother.
More than one woman:They love their father.They love their mother.

YouYou love your fatherYou love your mother.
II love my father.I love my mother.
WeWe love our unclesWe love our aunts.

Animal The dog loves its master, Juan.The dog loves its mistress, Mar&38854;.
More than one animalThe dogs love their masters and they love their mistresses


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