Compound and Joint Possession: This Is Our Lesson!

Contributor: Jennifer Blanchard. Lesson ID: 13678

Is this lesson yours? Is it mine? What if it's both of ours or all of ours? How would we say that in a grammatically correct way? This lesson will tell you a fun way!


Grammar, Reading

English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


trivia time

  • If you were talking about a cell phone that you share with your siblings named Taylor and Ainsley, how would you say (or write) it?

Would you say...

  1. The cell phone is Taylor's, Ainsley's, and my cell phone.
  2. The cell phone is Taylor's, Ainsley's, and I's.
  3. It's my's, Taylor's, and Ainsley's cell phone.
  4. The cell phone is Taylor's, Ainsley's, and mine.

Ah! So many different ways that you can almost trick yourself into thinking they all sound right!

  • Are those words swimming around in your brain yet?

Keep reading to see if your guess is right!

In this lesson, you will learn how to eliminate any errors with joint and compound possession usage.

This will help your writing be grammatically correct and, therefore, correctly understood by others!

Now, back to the trivia question.

  • Which answer did you decide was correct?

The correct answer is D: The cell phone is Taylor's, Ainsley's, and mine.

  • Why?

Let's get going with this lesson to see why!

  • First of all, what do we mean by joint and compound possession?

Possession is when someone owns or possesses something; it is theirs.

You might possess your cell phone, or you might possess your jacket because they might be yours. You own them.

  • What do we mean by joint possession?

Joint refers to two (or more) people owning the same thing.

  • What do we mean by compound possession?

Compound possession is when two (or more) people own separate things, but you are talking about them at the same time or in the same sentence.

Next, let's review how you can show possession.

Watch Apostrophes for Possession | Possessive Nouns | Easy Teaching from EasyTeaching:

  • Now, what expectations are there for using these types of possession (joint and compound) correctly?

First, you need to determine if the item you are describing is shared or not.

  • Do the people you are describing share this item, or do they own it separately?

If they do share the item, they can share the apostrophe-s.

Example: Kelly and Ryan's TV show.

If they do not share the item, they do not share the apostrophe-s. Instead, they each have their own apostrophe-s.

Example: Kelly's and Ryan's TV shows.

You may have heard of the TV show LIVE with Kelly and Ryan. In real life, they are both the hosts of that show.

But let's say that they both own that show; it's both of theirs. Because of that, we would use the first example above:

Kelly and Ryan's TV show.

Now, let's pretend that this show ends, and they both create new separate shows to own. In that case, they don't own the same show or the same item. They each own their own show.

So, we would then refer to two separate or different shows, as seen as the second example:

Kelly's and Ryan's TV shows.

  • Got that so far?


  • What happens if you are talking about more than two people, like in the trivia question?

The same grammatical rule holds true.

If they ALL share the same thing, you put one apostrophe-s on the final name in the list. If Kelly and Ryan add another co-host to own their show with them, it would be:

Kelly, Michael, and Ryan's TV show

If they all broke off separately and owned their own shows, it would be written to show that each one posses their own show:

Kelly's, Michael's, and Ryan's TV shows

  • How do you feel about all of that so far?

Let's up the ante now by including pronouns in the mix! Don't worry, you've got this!

Watch the video below to review possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives. You will probably encounter both in your work with compound and joint possessives!

Possessive adjectives and pronouns from GoEnglish:

When mixing nouns and pronouns, they each need their own possessive form. So, you would make the noun possessive and the pronoun possessive.

If you were talking about yourself, you would use the pronoun my.

For example:

It is Shane's and my anniversary. (Since Shane and I both share or own the same anniversary, we both would need the possessive form.)

Some other similar or related facts to remember when approaching this topic:

  • I's can't be used as the possessive form of I. Instead of using I's, you would say my.

For example, you wouldn't say "It is Shane's and I's anniversary."

  • When using a pronoun in a compound or joint possessive form, the pronoun always goes last.

For example, you would say "It is Jessica's and his book".

Okay, that was a lot of information, and it can get pretty confusing!

Watch this next video to check yourself and confirm that you grasped all the information above in the right way.

Apostrophes Individual vs Joint Ownership - Grammar Lesson Trailer from GrammarFlip:

Hearing it explained another way always helps!

  • How are you feeling about this information?

It's important to note that people are more likely to make mistakes with compound and joint possession when talking rather than when writing. When talking, you are often giving information at a quicker pace and aren't thinking as deeply about the grammatical rules!

If you are feeling confident, head on over to the Got It? section!

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