In a book(Wren and Martin updated Indian edition) I am reading it is said:

The forms my, our, your, her, their are called Possessive Adjectives because they are used with nouns and do the work of Adjectives; as,

This is my book.
Those are your books.
That is her book.

My understanding is that my, your and her can be replaced with adjectives in the above sentences as:

This is the red book.
These are better books.
That is a small book.

In the book I am reading, it further says mine, yours, hers are possessive pronouns, as used in following sense:

This book is mine.
These books are yours.
That book is hers.
That idea of yours is excellent.

But my question is that mine, yours, hers are infact taking the position of Predecative adjectives as:

This book is red
These books are better
This book is small

So, can mine, yours, hers be considered as Possessive adjectives? If not then why?

  • 1
    No they can't. Just have a look at your own examples. Can you say This is mine book or these are yours books, like you can with my and your? Predicative use of a word is not the same as an adjective.
    – oerkelens
    Jun 7, 2017 at 16:47
  • @oerkelens I didn't think this way. So I take it as that for a possessive pronoun to be classified as possessive adjective, it must be replaceable with adjective in both cases of attributive adjective and predicative adjective
    – user31782
    Jun 7, 2017 at 16:52
  • The dependent and independent gentives are often analysed in trad grammar as 'possessive adjectives' and possessive pronouns respectively. But they are both genitive forms of the personal pronouns: "my" and "mine" are just as much pronouns as "me" and "I" are.
    – BillJ
    Jun 7, 2017 at 16:54
  • Even nouns can be used attributively, so that doesn't mean much. If your conclusion is that possessive adjectives can be used as adjectives, then theirs and hers are not it :)
    – oerkelens
    Jun 7, 2017 at 16:55
  • 1
    @user31782 My strong advice to you is to forget the term "possessive adjective". The dependent forms ("my, your, our, etc") and the independent equivalent forms ("mine, yours, ours etc") are all genitive (possessive) pronouns. Unlike adjectives, they don't function as modifiers but as determiners -- that is a crucial difference.
    – BillJ
    Jun 7, 2017 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


Possessive-adjectives are not adjectives. Possessive pronouns are certainly not adjectives

Possessive-adjectives can function in some ways like adjectives (my book, red book). But they are can't form comparatives or superlatives (*a more my book, *the myest book). And they can't form a predicate (*this book is my.)

The possessive pronouns act like nouns. In modern English, they seem usually to appear in the predicate "It's mine!". In older forms of English they were seen in the subject (consider the Lord's Prayer: "For thine is the kingdom" thine is the old singular form of yours). Modern English seems to prefer "my one" in this position: "My one is better than yours."

Nouns and pronouns can appear as predicates. "It's a cat." "I want him." and so on. In the sentence "It's mine" the word mine is acting as a pronoun, not as an adjective. The word "mine" can't function as an adjective *"mine book" is incorrect.

It is best not to think of words like "my" as replacing adjectives. But instead, think of them as forming their own special class of words, which go before nouns to indicate possession.

  • 1
    They're certainly not adjectives, which is why it's unfortunate that out-of-date texts like Wren & Martin still use labels like possessive adjective. Unfortunately, English grammar education is stuck in the stone age.
    – user230
    Jun 7, 2017 at 17:13
  • I am somewhat confused again. We can say This is my(attributive adjective) book but can't say This book is my(predicative adjective). So, my can be used in place of attributive adjective, but not in place of predicative adjective. So my can't replace adjectives in all cases. Does that mean possessive adjective are only those words which replace attributive adjective? Don't they have any consideration to predicative adjective?
    – user31782
    Jun 7, 2017 at 17:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .