Why are some possessive pronoun not categorized as possessive adjectives?

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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?

user31782

Posted 2017-06-07T16:38:06.410

Reputation: 1 693

1No 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 – 2017-06-07T16:47:38.827

@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 – 2017-06-07T16:52:24.500

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 – 2017-06-07T16:54:29.437

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 – 2017-06-07T16:55:00.423

@oerkelens My book classifies hers as possessive pronoun (not possessive adjective). So I think all possessive adjectives can be used as adjectives, – user31782 – 2017-06-07T17:03:39.537

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 – 2017-06-07T17:11:08.930

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 – 2017-06-07T17:12:18.750

@user31782 We say "This book is mine", "mine" being the independent form. The NP "mine" is then subjective predicative complement of "be". – BillJ – 2017-06-07T17:15:35.773

@user31782 You're never going to grasp this unless you forget ancient grammar. We have all told you that in today's grammar these words are pronouns. The dependent forms - the ones that require a following noun - like "my, your, our, etc", and the independent equivalent forms which can stand alone, like "mine, yours, ours etc" are all genitive (possessive) pronouns. – BillJ – 2017-06-07T17:29:55.500

Answers

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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.

James K

Posted 2017-06-07T16:38:06.410

Reputation: 80 781

1They'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. – snailplane – 2017-06-07T17:13:43.737

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 – 2017-06-07T17:18:25.080