How to Teach and Learn Possessive and Demonstrative Pronouns Better

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A possessive pronoun is defined as a pronoun used to express the possession or the ownership of a particular thing, place, or person. Examine the following examples:

(i)         This pen is yours. (thing)

(ii)        Those children are mine. (person)

(iii)       That stadium is ours. (place)

If you examine the three examples above, you will realize that:

(i)         ‘Yours’ shows the ownership of ‘pen’. It means that it is ‘he/she’ or ‘they’ that own(s) the pen as a possession.

(ii)        ‘Mine’ shows the ownership of ‘children’. It implies that it is ‘he/she’ that owns the children as possessions

(iii)       ‘Ours’ shows the ownership of ‘stadium’. This suggests that it is ‘they’ that own that stadium as a possession.

Classification of Possessive Pronouns

A possessive pronoun can be classified, according to their functions, into three main parts; namely subject, object and complement. Look at the table below

                                     Possessive pronouns

Subject           Object           Complement

Ours                Ours                Ours

Yours              Yours                Yours

Hers                 Hers                 Hers

Theirs              Theirs               Theirs

Mine                Mine                Mine

His                   His                   His

You should not be surprised at having the same examples in the subject, the object, and the complement. They will be clearly understood in the sentences.

Rudiments and Uses of Possessive Pronouns

To understand the usage of the possessive pronouns above, we shall examine their essential facts.

  1. Except ‘mine’ and ‘his’, other possessive pronouns must carry the final ‘s’. Consider the following examples:

(i)         Yours will be done.

(ii)        Hers does not concern me.

(iii)       Theirs is my favorite.

It is grammatically wrong if said possessive pronouns do not contain possessive ‘s’. For example:

(i)         Your will be done.

(ii)        Her does not concern me.

(iii)       Their is my favorite.

Even if they are used in the object or the complement positions, they must carry the final ‘s’. Look at the following examples:

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(i)         That mansion is hers.

(ii)        The principal stamped ours, not yours.

(iii)       I admire theirs.

But don’t say:

(i)         ‘… stamped our or your.

(ii)        ‘… is her.

(iii)       ‘… admired their.

Remember that ‘mine’ and ‘his’ do not require the final ‘s’. Look at the examples:

            (i)         Mine does not look like that.

(ii)        I like yours. I do not like his.

It is grammatically incorrect if they are used with ‘s’. For example:

(i)         Mines does not look like that.

(ii)        I like yours. I do not like hiss.

  1. If the possessive pronouns are used as singular subjects, they can be followed by singular verbs. Consider the following examples:

(i)         Hers looks fine.                       Her shoe looks fine.

(ii)        Yours seems attractive.           Your shirt seems attractive.

(iii)       Ours is bigger than theirs.       Our house is bigger than their house.

(iv)       His gives me concern.            His idea gives me concern.

  1. If the possessive pronouns are used as plural subjects, they can be followed by plural          verbs. For example:

(i)         Hers look fine.                                    Her shoes look fine.

(ii)        His give me concern.                           His ideas give me concern.

(iii)       Ours are bigger than theirs.                Our houses are bigger than their houses.

(iv)     Yours seem attractive.                         Yours shirts seem attractive.

  1. It should be noted that possessive pronouns do not require apostrophe punctuation before ‘s’. Consider the following examples:

(i)         Yours not your’s

(ii)        Hers not her’s

(iii)       Theirs not their’s

(iv)       Ours not our’s

Both ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ are right English expressions, but they are semantically different. Its is a possessive adjective that qualifies nouns while It’s is a shortened word that means It is.

Functions of Possessive Pronouns

The possessive pronoun can function as subject, object or complement of a sentence (verb). Look at the sentences below.

  1. Subject of a sentence

(i)         Yours are good.

(ii)        Mine tastes delicious.

(iii)       Hers became popular.

2. Object of a sentence

(i)         The children dislike theirs.

(ii)        I enjoyed his.

(iii)       She supports ours.

3. Complement of a sentence

(i)         Nigeria is ours.

(ii)        Glory is mine.                    

(iii)       All the gifts here are theirs.                                          

(iv)       These cars are your

Evaluation

  1. Describe the concept of a possessive pronoun.
  2. State and illustrate the rudiments of possessive pronouns.
  3. Use the following possessive pronoun correctly in sentences:
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(i)         theirs

(ii)        ours

(iii)       yours

(iv)       his

(v)        mine

(vi)       hers

  1. Give two sentence examples to each of the following functions and indicate the positions of possessive pronouns:

(a)        Subject of a sentence

(b)        Object of a sentence

(c)        Complement of a sentence

Explaining Demonstrative Pronouns

A demonstrative pronoun is a type of pronoun used to show near reference and distant reference of the subject or object to the speaker. They include ‘this’, ‘these’, ‘that’ and ‘those’.

The Categories of Demonstrative Pronoun

 Demonstrative Pronouns

Near reference       Distant reference          Singulars           Plurals

This                             That                                This                   These

These                           Those                              That                 Those

 Near reference

This                             These

(i)         ‘This’ refers to a place, a thing or a person that is near the speaker For example: ‘This is a pen’ means that ‘the pen’ is not distant or far from the speaker but near him or her, even it may be with the speaker.

(ii)        ‘These’ refers to a person, a place or a thing that is not far from speaker but near him/her. For example, ‘These are my friends’ implies that ‘the speaker’s friends’ are not distant but near him/her, even they may be with the speaker.

Distance reference

That                             Those

(i)         ‘That’ refers to a person, a place or a thing that is far away from the speaker. For example: ‘That is a worn-out television’ means that ‘that television’ is not near, but distant to the speaker. It may not even be around the speaker.

(ii)        ‘Those’ refers to a person, a thing or a place that is far away from the speaker as in the case of ‘that’. For example: ‘Those are classrooms’ implies that ‘the classrooms’ that the speaker is talking about is not near, but distant to him/her. They may not even be around the speaker.

Uses of Demonstrative Pronouns

There are some important facts about demonstrative pronouns. Let’s examine them below.

  1.                                   Singular Demonstratives
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This                             That

‘This’ and ‘that’ are singular demonstrative pronouns, and they must be followed by singular verbs. Consider the following examples:

(i)         This smells bad.

(ii)        That is a serious case.

It is wrong to say:

(i)         This smell bad.

(ii)        That are serious cases.

If ‘This’ or ‘That’ functions as a modifier of a noun, then the noun it modifies should be singular. For example:

This boy is insane. Don’t say: ‘This boys …’

That man is egg-headed. Don’t say: ‘That men …’

  1.                                       Plural Demonstratives

These                           Those

‘These’ and ‘Those’ are plural demonstrative pronouns, and they must be used with plural verbs. Consider the following examples:

(i)         These are my people. Don’t say: ‘These is …’

(ii)        Those were terrible. Don’t say: ‘Those was …’

If ‘These’ or ‘Those’ functions as a modifier of a noun, then the noun it modifies should be plural. For example:

(i)         These students appear well-dressed.

(ii)        Those children are morally corrupt.

It is incorrect to say: ‘These student’ or ‘Those child’.

Functions of Demonstrative Pronouns

There are four functions of demonstrative pronouns. Consider them below.

  1. Subject of a sentence

(i)         This is a good statement.            

(ii)        That is a nice one.

2. Object of a sentence

(i)         I don’t like this.

(ii)        I can’t accept that.

3. Complement of a sentence

(i)         My opinions are these.

(ii)        That is that.

4. Modifier of a noun

(i)         Those boys necklaced the thief.

(ii)        This man can bat very well.

Evaluation

  1. What is a demonstrative pronoun?
  2. With relevant illustrations, distinguish between the following pairs of words in terms of references.

(a)        this and that

(b)        these and those

  1. Examine the uses of demonstrative pronouns with relevant illustrations.
  2. Say whether the underlined words below are subject, object or complement of a sentence.

(a)        These are notorious thugs.

(b)        My idea is this.

(c)        I can admit these.

(d)       That is what you think.

(e)        The materials are these.

(f)        I will take that.

Author: Deola Adelakun

 

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