English Possessive Pronouns
The most important thing to remember about possessive pronouns when replacing a noun is that they refer to the person possessing something. They do not refer to the object or person possessed. This often seems strange to students learning about this type of pronoun because it is naturally assumed that the pronoun refers back to what is possessed. Take these two-sentence examples that ask a question and answer using a possessive pronoun:
Whose bicycle is red? Mine.
The possessive pronoun and answer to the question “mine" is really indicating “my bicycle is red" or perhaps “the red bicycle is mine." Either way, it answers the question “whose" in the first sentence. Hence, the possessive pronoun “mine" refer back to the possessor “whose" not to the object “the red bicycle" that is possessed. Take this next example:
Whose daughter is tall? His.
Again, the possessive “his" refers back to the possessor of the daughter, not the daughter herself who is the person possessed. English possessive pronouns can take the form of any person and number. The English possessive pronouns include:
1st person: mine (singular), ours (plural)
2nd person: yours (singular), yours (plural)
3rd person: his, hers, its (singular), theirs (plural
Notice that, as usual, with English’s second person, the singular and plural forms are identical. Take the following sentence:
Whose grade on the test was poor? Yours.
The possessive pronoun “yours" can potentially refer to a singular (one person) or plural (two or more people) possessor. Without more information, the possessor’s number is ambiguous. This fact becomes important when translating from Latin to English. Latin does not suffer from this ambiguity so more information may need to be provided by a translator when translating from Latin unambiguous to English’s ambiguous second person.