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A Simple English Word – Ours Posted by on Nov 27, 2019 in English Grammar, English Language, Speaking English

These two cats love each other. He is hers; she is his. They belong to my wife and me. They are ours.

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We all know that English is a very complicated language. Spelling is difficult, grammar structure is frustrating, rules are confusing, and don’t even get me started on homophones. If you want an example of what makes learning English so maddening, look no further than the simple four-letter possessive pronoun ours.

Ours is the possessive form of we, and it is multifunctional. It can refer to a singular or plural noun.

I share this garden with my neighbors. It is ours. My wife and I grow the tomatoes, so they are ours.

It can also be the subject, object, or complement of a verb or the object of a preposition.

Ours has been a very happy marriage.

I liked their television, but I prefer ours.

Because ours is a possessive pronoun, and it is commonly accepted that any English word ending in s needs an accompanying apostrophe, many will mistakenly spell the word as our’s. Don’t.

Ours belongs to a unique family of independent possessive pronouns. Some of these end in s, and none of them take an apostrophe. Each refers to a previously named or understood noun, and you had better know the difference between them.

“Each apartment comes with its own parking spot.”

“I think that parking space is mine.”

“No, I’m sorry, this is ours. That space over there is yours.”

“I thought the landlord said that space was his.”

“It used to be, but now he and his wife use the lot across the street. Those two spaces are theirs. He parks on the right and the left one is hers.”

I probably don’t need to tell you that ours also has a very common homophone. Hours is the plural of the noun hour. The only way anyone can tell the difference between the two is how the word is used in the context of a sentence.

“My sister and I weren’t the only two who had an argument about politics on Thanksgiving, but ours went on for hours.”

Of course, if you don’t pronounce a word properly then you may never mistake it for its homophone. And, believe me, many people, even native English speakers, mispronounce the word ours. Do not fall into the trap of pronouncing it like Rz or are’-s. It is pronounced ow’erz.

If you want to test your English enunciation skills, try repeatedly speaking the phrase, “This is theirs, these are ours.”

Even Taylor Swift seems to have a problem with the word.

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