ESL Possessive Adjectives: Games & Exercises

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

This lesson presents a fun way to introduce possessive adjectives to ESL students. It also includes some activities and games for students to practice the use of those adjectives.

The Things You Own

If your students are prepared, they come into your classroom with some gear: a backpack or binder containing items such as pencils, pens, and notebooks. This is a good place to start with English as a Second Language (ESL) students to introduce possessive adjectives.

Begin by asking your students about these things they own. Students may or may not use the expressions 'I have' or 'I own'. Once they name a few things, talk about the things you own as a teacher, for example, 'I have a blue marker. It is my marker', emphasizing the possessive adjective 'my'. Using any item, ask a student: 'Is this your marker?', emphasizing the possessive adjective 'your'.

Students realize quickly that 'your' and 'my' are possessive adjectives. Explain that these words modify nouns because they express ownership. Now, they can practice with peers using their things and say 'my notebook', 'your notebook', etc.

The Things Others Own

After 'your' and 'my', students need to immediately learn the other possessive adjectives. The next step is to show an image of a person and point at what s/he is wearing. You would have examples such as 'her sweater', 'his shoes', etc. Next, students could use 'her' and 'his' to refer to their peers' things.

To teach the plural possessive adjectives, you can use prompts such as 'our classroom', 'our soccer team', 'their school', etc.

With this basic knowledge of possessive adjectives, students are ready to practice with a variety of activities.

Filling in the Blanks

For this activity, students get a worksheet with a few sentences to fill in the blanks with possessive adjectives. Examples of sentences include the following:

  • Lisa has a dog. _____ dog is brown.
  • John owns a house. _____ house is big.
  • I have a cousin. _____ cousin is a doctor.
  • They have a son. _____ son is tall.
  • We have a projector in the class. _____ projector is new.

This activity is easy to check by walking around the class or by having students read their answers to correct as a class.

My Vehicle, My Parking Ticket

Students play this game in two teams and each team designates a moderator. You place an even number of pieces of paper with vehicles written on them in a bag, which each team draws from taking turns. The student moderators should have a list with all the vehicles in the bag and a specific parking ticket amount for each vehicle. Examples include:

  • Red car - 60 dollars
  • Blue bike - 20 dollars
  • Yellow motorcycle - 40 dollars
  • Red truck - 100 dollars

The game relies entirely on luck and it triggers the use of possessive adjectives as follows. The moderators read aloud the vehicle list, one item at the time. For instance, s/he begins with 'red car'. The student who has the piece of paper with 'red car' on it says 'My car is red'. That student's team moderator reads the respective parking ticket amount (i.e., $60). Someone on the other team says 'Your parking ticket is 60 dollars'.

The moderators keep track of the parking tickets each team gets by saying 'His/her ticket is 60 dollars' while writing it down. At the end, the team with the smaller amount in parking tickets is the winner.

As an alternative, students could get a parking ticket discount if they say their sentences correctly. Or, they could get a $10 fine for each incorrect sentence.

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