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Dependent possessive pronoun

From Teflpedia

A dependent possessive pronoun is a possessive pronoun used as a determiner within a dependent genitive.

Form[edit | edit source]

English has the following dependent possessive pronouns:

A possessive determiner can be transformed into independent possessive pronouns by the addition of possessive 's (albeit without the apostrophe) in the case of "your"/"yours,” "her"/"hers,” our/"ours" and "their"/"theirs.” Whilst "his" remains unchanged only because we can’t add -s to s. “Its" is generally not used as a possessive pronoun.

Of course, many writers want to include the apostrophe, hence the issue of its v. it’s.

Syntax[edit | edit source]

These pronouns can replace a genitive case determined noun phrase when that phrase is used as a determiner. For example, consider the sentences Elizabeth owns several houses. Elizabeth’s houses are dotted around the country. To avoid repetition, we can replace the second Elizabeth with her, invoking anaphora, and derive Elizabeth owns several houses. Her houses are dotted around the country.

These pronouns co-ordinate with genitive case nouns. For example, “Sheila is having a party. Please come to her and Fiona’s house on Tuesday.” They also mark the genitive case, and specifically its subcase, the dependent genitive case.

Contrastive analysis[edit | edit source]

English is unusual in using pronouns as possessive determiners, rather than possessive articles, like most other Germanic and Romance languages. The difference is that pronouns agree with their pronoun referent, whereas articles agree with the noun they determine.


Chinese[edit | edit source]

Chinese uses a similar system to English, using pronouns with the particle 的 (de). However, Chinese doesn't distinguish in forms like the English pronouns do, so for example, her and hers both translate as 她的 (tāde).

  • my - 我的 (wǒde)
  • your (informal, singular) 你的 (nǐde)
  • your (formal, singular) 您的 (nínde)
  • his – 他的 (tāde)
  • her - 她的 (tāde)
  • its – 它的 (tāde)
  • our - 我们的 (wǒmen de)
  • your (plural) - 你们的 (nǐmen de)
  • their - 他们的 (tāmen de) for males or a mixed gender group, and 她们的 (tāmen de) for females.

Pedagogy[edit | edit source]

In traditional grammar and pedagogical grammar these words are known as a "possessive adjectives,” and analysed as adjectives. There is however a major problem with this since they are categorically not adjectives but pronouns. Calling them adjectives is arguably going to confuse learners as to what exactly an adjective is.