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Whose is That? - Possessive Terms

Quiz playing is a wonderful way to increase your knowledge of English as a Second Language. Remember that all of our ESL quizzes have titles that are both friendly and technical at the same time… In the case of this quiz you might like to tell your friends about “Whose Is that?” but no doubt your teachers will talk about the “Possessive Terms quiz”! If you hear a technical term and you want to find a quiz about the subject then just look through the list of quiz titles until you find what you need.

Possessive terms... Who owns what? Who does that belong to? 'Whose is that?' It's often important to know this, so you don't mix up your own property or other people's. Here's your chance to practise those all-important possessive terms in English.

  1. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    When Thomas wanted to marry Sarah, he had to go and meet ... ... parents.
    '... the parents of Sarah', presumably: in other words, hers.
  2. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    In most of the rest of the world, people drive ... ... cars on the right-hand side of the street.
    ' ... cars that belong to them'; in other words, theirs.
  3. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    The Lord's Prayer asks God to bless and protect us, and we pray that He would 'Give us this day ... ... daily bread'.
    If, as we hope, it is coming to us, it is 'ours'.
  4. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    This flat belongs to my parents, but quite a lot of the furniture is ...
    Only 'mine' makes the most likely sense here.
  5. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    Would you kindly stop parking ... ... car across the entrance to my garden?
    Most likely, the car belongs to the people who are parking it so badly ('you', that we are talking to), so it'll be 'your car'.
  6. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    She met the man who is now ... ... husband, when they began working together in Singapore.
    Beware if your first language is French, because you may have thought ' ... son mari'. But in English, the difference between 'his' and 'her' depends on the gender of the owner, not the gender of the thing that they own. If someone has a husband (in the traditional understanding), she must herself be female/feminine, so the possessive will be 'her'.
  7. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    Oh look, the big tiger is licking ... ... paws!
    Most animals are usually 'it' in English: since we don't have genders like many other languages do, we don't automatically think that all cats and dogs are somehow masculine, or all mice feminine. Obviously, if there is a 'mummy-animal' suckling her young (a chimpanzee, for instance), we might refer to her as 'she'; and if two great big males (lions, say; or deer) are fighting, we might well call either of them 'he'. But if the behaviour we're talking about is something that's not gender-specific, the animal will just be 'it' as far as English is concerned.
  8. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    There comes the mother-bird with ... ... little chicks.
    If this is the female bird who produced the chicks, then we will need 'she' and 'her' for talking about her (see previous hint, at Question 7).
  9. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    One can never tell when ... ... luck may run out.
    'One' has its own possessive form. We may not know whether the 'one' happens to refer to a man or a woman, so neither 'his' nor 'her' would necessarily be right. Nor do we use 'their' in this context (though you may quite often hear 'Who's left their coat on my chair?' ... when it may be fairly clear from the style of coat, whether the owner was male or female; and 'Someone's put their umbrella in the wash-hand-basin').
  10. Choose the word that makes best sense in the gap.
    Some time ago, when many British coal mines were owned and controlled by private individuals, an old man who did indeed own a mine was lying on his sickbed, preparing to die. His last words to his son would probably have been:
    'Until today the mine has been mine, but tomorrow it will be ... '
    It can't be 'ours' (with the old man speaking, and including himself in what he says) if he knows he will no longer be alive tomorrow; 'his' makes no sense if we don't know what other man he means (though it might well have been his son).
    It is just one of those unfortunate accidents of language that 'mine' has several meanings: 'mine' = 'belonging to me' ('If yours is broken, let me lend you mine'); 'mine' = a pit from which coal or other minerals (e.g. gold) are dug out; 'mine' = a military explosive (and hence the metaphorical expression, 'Don't raise that topic in conversation, it's a minefield' ... i.e. if you bring it up to talk about, there might be an 'explosion' of anger from someone who feels strongly about it).

Author: Ian Miles

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