Possessive determiners belong to a closed class of words call determiners. Determiners provide information such as familiarity, location, quantity, and number about a noun, pronoun (rarely), or noun phrase. Possessive determiners are similar to possessive nouns, which indicate possession of or some other relationship to another word or phrase. The possessive determiners in English are my, your, his, her, its, our, their, and whose. The possessive determiner whose, or possessive interrogative determiner, is also an interrogative determiner. Do not confuse the possessive determiners with some of the personal pronouns, specifically possessive pronouns, which are similar in form but different in function.
In grammar, a determinative is a word or phrase that expresses additional information such as definiteness, proximity, quantity, and relationships about a noun phrase and that differs from an adjective phrase, which describes attributes. In the English language, possessive determiners frequently function as determinatives. Examples of possessive determiners as determinatives include the following:
- My tractor trailer is bigger than his dinosaur and her spaceship combined.
- Your brother married their sister at whose ranch?
- A bird broke its leg in the storm.
- Their car is parked between his wagon and her motorbike.
- Whose barcode scanner ended up in our department?
- His postcard arrived with my package and your catalog.
Possessive Determiners as Determinatives
Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.