Nouns: Possessives

Possessive nouns are nouns that show ownership. To make most proper and common nouns possessive nouns we need only add an apostrophe and then an “s” like this:
Sam’s dog has fleas.
Sam’s dog’s fleas are brown.

Possessives ending in s still require an apostrophe and another “s.” Even if a singular noun ends in “s” such as in names like “Gus” or common nouns like “class.”
The class’s field trip was canceled.
Mrs. Glass’s house is near Gus’s office.

Plurals and possessives are a little different. Plural words that are also possessive are usually formed by just adding an apostrophe like this.
The dogs’ leashes are kept in the drawer.
The girls’ basketball team won the game.

If a noun is simply plural and doesn’t show ownership it does not require an apostrophe. For example, none of these words as used in the sentences below require an apostrophe because they are only plural not possessive.
The dogs will go for a walk.
The girls play basketball.

Making an irregular plural noun possessive when it does not end in “s” is very simple. Add an apostrophe then the “s” just as if it were a singular noun like this.
The children’s book is lost.
The fox’s den is in the woods.

Various situations in possessives grammar call for a few seemingly tricky rules. Showing possession when two nouns are joined together and possession is shared is different from indicating possession when two nouns are joined together and ownership is separate. When two people are listed as owning one thing together the possession is shown on the second noun only. Add an apostrophe “s” to the second noun, and leave the first one as it is. For example:
John and Susan’s house is a fun place to visit.
Sally and Tom’s game was left on the floor.

If the two nouns have separate ownership of two separate objects, each noun needs an apostrophe and an “s” added to them. For Example:
Susan’s and Tom’s dinner plates are still on the table.
The dog’s and cat’s water bowls are on the floor.

Misplaced Modifiers

Modifiers are of course adjectives, adverbs and their various clauses and phrases. Adjectives and adverbs modify or describe other words. Misplaced modifiers are modifiers placed too far from the word it modifies, so that they seem more associated with another word. This can change the meaning of a sentence. For example, do you say, “I found the lady’s red purse,” or “I found the red lady’s purse.” The first sentence is correct, because the purse is red, not the lady.

Adjectives, adverbs, phrases and clauses can all be misplaced to change the meaning of a sentence in an unwanted way. To make sure modifiers are associated with the correct word, make sure the words are placed together in a sentence. Here are more examples of misplaced modifiers and how to fix them.

A misplaced adjective: The stolen lady’s handbag was found.
Fixed: The lady’s stolen handbag was found.

A misplaced adverb: The students used the crayons they were given excitedly.
Fixed: The students excitedly used the crayons they were given.

A misplaced phrase: The dogs are walked in the park with leather collars.
Fixed: The dogs with leather collars are walked in the park.

A misplaced Clause: Someone took the apples from the basket that were ripe.
Fixed: Someone took all the apples that were ripe from the basket.

Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers are two completely different problems. With a misplaced modifier, the modifier appears to modify the wrong word. With a dangling modifier the modifier doesn’t seem to modify any part of the sentence. Dangling modifiers often occur at the beginning of a sentence.

Here is an example of a dangling modifier. “While studying geography, the book fell off the table.” Nothing mentioned in the sentence was actually studying geography. Logically, neither the book nor the table studied. In order to correct the sentence we have to invent a person to study geography. We can either fix the modifier, “While John was studying Geography, the book fell off the table.” or we can fix the rest of the sentence like this. “While studying Geography, John dropped the book.”


Adjectives and adverbs are very similar, except an adverb can modify everything that is not a noun or a pronoun, while adjectives only modify or explain nouns and pronouns. An adverb can modify or explain a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. They can modify clauses, phrases, and some modify whole sentences.

An adverb usually answers a question such as how? or when? or where? They can describe how much or in what way something happened. A list of adverbs quickly reveals that an adverb usually ends in “ly,” as in “quickly,” “audibly,” or “calmly.” Adverbs examples also include words like “behind,” “beside,” “before” and “between.”

An adverb can be classified by type. The manner adverb describes how something is done. An adverb of degree, explains how much. An adverb of time explains when something is done. A manner, time or degree adverb can be found after the verb or at the end of a sentence. The frequency adverb explains how often, and can be found before the main verb. An adverb of comment is always found at the very beginning of a sentence. This kind of adverb expresses an opinion or comment about the situation described in the sentence.

The use of an adverb in a certain way, to modify a verb, creates special adverbs known as intensifiers. Intensifiers increase, decrease or otherwise define the level of importance of the verb. Intensifiers can be used to manipulate human emotion. Imagine the sentence, “You are slightly infected with swine flu.” Swine flu is scary but ‘slightly’ makes it sound a lot better. “He is extremely contagious,” has a much stronger negative impact.

Knowing adverbs from adjectives is simple. Adjectives describe nouns, and pronouns, while an adverb describes almost everything else. An adverb usually ends in “ly.” In fact most of the time an adverb is just an adjective with an ly ending. For example: slow, in the phrase “a slow train” is an adjective describing train. Slowly is an adverb. In the sentence, “The train moved slowly.” slowly modifies the verb “moves,” and that causes it to be an adverb.

Adjectives: Definition and Degrees

An adjective is a word used to describe or modify a noun or pronoun. It is used to explain or describe the subject or object of a sentence. For example the sentence “Mary has hair” sounds strange, but by using adjectives the sentence can look like this. “Beautiful Mary has long, golden hair.” These kinds of words are a major key to good creative writing skills.

There are so many of these lovely descriptive words, because they describe the colors, sizes, shapes, textures, and other various attributes of nouns and pronouns. Examples are words like tiny, gigantic, glossy, sharp, easy, purple, smart, beautiful, compassionate, leafy and etc.

Adjectives and adverbs are very similar, but not the same. An adverb can be used to modify everything except nouns and pronouns. They usually modify verbs, but they can also be used to modify an adjective or adverb.

Comparing adjectives compare one thing to another. Comparing adjectives have a comparative form and a superlative form. Comparative adjectives compare two nouns or pronouns and usually end in “er” while Superlative adjectives compare more than two things or all things of that type, and usually end in “est” Some verbs have a specific and unique form just for their superlative and comparative form. For example: “good, better, best.” Two syllable and three syllable adjectives such as beautiful use a two word comparison such as “more beautiful, and the superlative is “most beautiful.” This is true unless the two syllable adjective ends in “er,” “le” or “ow.”
Here are some examples:

Adjective Comparative adjective Superlative adjective
small smaller smallest
dark darker darkest
good better best
bad worse worst
interesting most interesting most interesting
fruitful more fruitful most fruitful
gentle gentler gentlest

Many writers find a list of adjectives helpful. Being able to think of just the right adjective at any given time is an art, but even artists sometimes need tools to help them. A list of adjectives can be found on line, and a thesaurus can also be helpful in searching for just the right synonym for a word used too often in a sentence.