Cases of Nouns:
Possessive Case, Nominative Case, and Objective Case
Case indicates if the noun is a subject, an object, a predicate complement, a possessive modifier, or an appositional element.
English grammar has three cases: Nominative, Objective, and Possessive.
NOTE Except when indicating possession, nouns (unlike pronouns) are not affected by case. In this section we will only refer to the possessive case of nouns and elaborate on them in our Pronouns section.
The possessive case of a noun expresses ownership.
GENERAL RULE You create the possessive case of both singular and plural nouns by adding to the noun the Apostrophe ( ' ) and the letter "s."
EX. Boy's shirt.
EX. Girl's dress.
EX. Child's socks.
EX. Women's dress.
EX. Men's coats.
EX. Children's socks.
(a) When either the singular or the plural noun ends in "s," you indicate the possession by adding the apostrophe, as: "Burns' Poems;" "Charles' Reign;" "ladies' purses;" "The Jones' Holiday Dinner."
(b) In the case of singular nouns, you can add the apostrophe and the letter s; thus, we may write either Burns' Poems or Burns's Poems.
(c) When the resulting sound is not euphonious, use only the apostrophe, such as: "for conscience' sake;" "For Jesus' sake"; "the boss' coffee."
(d) When you use two or more nouns that show joint possession, ass the sign of the possessive to the last word only. Example: "Madeline & Co.'s Book Store;" "Douglas Field & Co.'s Dry Goods Store."
NOTE We say correctly, "George, Sally, and John's grandmother," but not "George's, Sally's, and John's grandmother."
(e) When possession is uncommon to both nouns, use the possessive sign with each noun; thus, we say correctly,"Keats' and Shelley's poems."
Note the following examples:
EX. "John and Mary's bicycle"
(one bicycle owned jointly by John and Mary)
EX. "John's and Mary's bicycle"
(one bicycle owned by John, and one by Mary)
EX. "John and Mary's bicycles"
(two or more bicycles owned jointly by John and Mary)
EX. "John's and Mary's bicycles"
(two or more bicycles owned by John, and two or more bicycles owned by Mary)
(f) In the case of nouns in apposition, you can indicate possession in various ways. You can correctly say, "I bought the book at Thompson the bookseller's," or "I bought the book at Thompson's, the bookseller," or "I bought the book at Thompson's, the bookseller's."
NOTE If the first noun does not indicate possession, you should omit the comma before the appositive word. In the first sentence, we omitted the comma before the appositive word "bookseller's" because we regard the nouns as the equivalent of singular nouns.
Authorities differ as to the correctness of these forms; some giving precedence to the first and the third, others to the second and the third.
In such constructions as "My sister Mary's bicycle;" "My uncle John's steak;" "My brother Bill's computer," we indicate possession by the appositive noun because we regard the two nouns as a single noun.
In the case of pronouns, the rule governing joint possession does not apply. Instead of "You and John's computer," we properly write, "Your and John's computer."
We also use another variation from the established rule when we use the words anyone else's, someone else's, etc. We indicate possession by the second word.
Possessive Proper Nouns
EX. Mrs. Smith's home is in Atlanta.
EX. The Lyttons' land is for rent.
EX. The Palmers' car is parked illegally.
EX. The Bishops' computer has been sold.
EX. The Cummings' wedding was expensive.
EX. The Burgesses' car is for sale.
EX. The Knoxes' land adjoins ours.
EX. I bought the books at Madeline & Co.'s Bookstore.
EX. I bought the music at Smoth & Jone's.
EX. I have seen my brother at Lowe's hardware store
EX. My sister Julia's children are at camp.
EX. My friend Brian's tennis racquet is broken.
EX. King George's and Queen Victoria's reign were legendary.
Possessive Common Nouns
EX. The boy's bicycle is broken.
EX. The boys' bicycles are broken.
EX. The baby's pacifier is lost.
EX. The babies' pacifiers are lost.
EX. A two weeks' vacation is part of my benefits.
EX. I wish two months' time as part of my benefits.
EX. I will give it a three months' trial.
EX. He took a two years' lease of the car.
EX. The woman's hairdresser is here.
EX. The women's hairdressers are here.
EX. The man's car is at the repair shop.
EX. The men's cars are at the repair shop.
EX. My cousin's books are expensive.
EX. My cousins' books are expensive.
(NOTE Compare the position of the apostrophe in man's and men's with cousin's and cousins', woman's and women's.)
EX. Mr. Jones' house is for sale.
EX. The Joneses' house is for sale.
EX. The Barnds' party was loud.
EX. The children's socks are black.
EX. Three months' time is what I want for vacation.
EX. He is taking a two years' course in Spanish.
EX. Several months' experience has taught him to save his money.
EX. My father-in-law's sister is ill.
EX. The Club's banquet is Friday of this week.
EX. They began to question the law's rights.
EX. George the Third's reign ended in defeat.
EX. William and Mary's marriage (joint).
EX. King George's and Queen Victoria's reign (two reigns).
EX. I bought the books at Madeline's, the booksellers.
EX. I bought the books at Madeline & Co., the booksellers' store.
EX. I have been at my brother John's house.
EX. My sister Julia's children are at camp.
EX. This is some property of my father's. (Property is owned by father.)
EX. These are some pictures of my aunt. (A likeness of my aunt.)
EX. The wind blew the leaves. (Subject of a finite verb)
EX. You, Brian, may play next. (Nominative of direct address)
EX. Lori is my cousin. (Predicate nominative)
EX. Poor guy! A fire! a fire! (Nominative of exclamation)
EX. Jimmy Smith, our pitcher, broken his arm. (In apposition)
EX. He has cleaned his house. (Direct object of a verb)
EX. I gave my mother a present. (Indirect object)
EX. We elected Steve captain. (Predicate objective)
EX. She laughed a happy laugh. (Cognate object)
EX. She sat in a chair by the fire. (Object of a preposition)
EX. We jogged a mile. (Adverbial objective)
EX. I met my friend Danielle in the restaurant. (In apposition)
EX. They believed the stranger was an undercover police officer. (Subject of an infinitive)
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