Possessive Pronouns

I got a question from the Peanut Gallery today.

Dave asks:

“I didn’t understand why ‘hers’ in your example below was not given an apostrophe.

Example: Two of their children are Andrew’s, and three are hers. (Note: not her’s.)

It seemed that the inclusion of the “s” was to express possession of three children.

Can you explain this?

 Happy to try to answer Stump the Grammar Geek questions.

“Her” is an adjective that means “of or belonging to her.”

Example: Her hair, her face, her voice made him weak in the knees.

“Hers” means basically the same thing, “that which belongs to her,” but is used in constructions with no following noun.

Example: The children were hers, but the way they were behaving, she would rather not admit it.

Here’s the Grammar Gobbledygoop:

There are two kinds of possessive pronouns:

1) Attributive (my, thy, his, her, our, your, their),

which come before the subject (i.e., her hair)

2) Predicative (mine, thine, his, ours, yours, theirs),

which come after the subject (i.e., kids were hers)

Note that the other predicative possessive pronouns (ours, yours, and theirs) don’t have an apostrophe before the S either.

Here’s the rule: Personal pronouns do not have any apostrophes for their possessives.

This includes: “its”  and  “whose.”

How can we remember this?

Just remember that “his” takes no apostrophe, so neither do the rest.

Now here is where things get confusing:

The words “it’s” and “who’s” — with apostrophes — are valid words

(unlike their’s, our’s, or her’s).

However, they are contractions, not possessives.

“It’s” means “it is” or “it has.”

“Who’s” means “who is” or “who has.”

But possessive pronouns do not possess an apostrophe.

And, just in case you want to know where the expression “Peanut Gallery” comes from, here’s the entry in Wikipedia:

“A peanut gallery is an audience that heckles the performer.

The term originated in the days of vaudeville as a nickname for the cheapest (and ostensibly rowdiest) seats in the theater; the cheapest snack served at the theater would often be peanuts, which the patrons would sometimes throw at the performers on stage to show their disapproval.”

If you throw peanuts at the Grammar Geek, I’ll eat ’em!


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