Free English Lessons

How to Use ‘s in English – Beginner Video Lesson

by Oli Redman on 21 November, 2016 , No comments

Look at these sentences: She’s from Hungary; My brother’s got a new job; This is Sarah’s pen. All of these sentences have a word with ‘s on the end. This ‘s can be different things. In this lesson, you can learn about this ‘s and what it can mean.

1. ‘s = is

In the sentence:

  • She’s from Hungary.

The ‘s is short for is. When we speak, we often do this. For example:

  • My father is an architect. –> My father’s an architect.
  • That is my pen. –> That’s my pen.
  • Where is the bathroom? –> Where’s the bathroom?

2. ‘s = has

In the sentence:

  • My brother’s got a new job.

The ‘s is short for has. Let’s look at some more examples:

  • Rob has been to Brazil. –> Rob’s been to Brazil.
  • He has finished everything. –> He’s finished everything.
  • Where has the dog gone? –> Where’s the dog gone?

How do you know if ‘s means is or has?

Sometimes you don’t need to think at all. In the sentence my brother’s got a new job, how do you know that ‘s = has and not is?

Because of the word got.

Got is the third form of get. We use got after have or has, not after is.

In other sentences, you need to look at the meaning and the grammar, and decide if ‘s means is or has.

Let’s practise: is the ‘s short for is or has in these sentences?

  • He’s a bus driver.
  • He’s worked as a bus driver for years.
  • She’s been to Hungary.
  • She’s from Hungary.

Do you know the answers? Let’s look together.

In sentences (1) and (4), ‘s = is. In sentences (2) and (3), ‘s = has. You can tell because of the words worked (in 2) and been (in 3).

These are third forms of the verbs work and be.

We use these third forms after have, not after is.

3. ‘s = of

In the sentence:

  • This is Sarah’s pen.

The ‘s is not short for anything. The ‘s shows that the pen belongs to Sarah.

We use this ‘s with things which belong to people. The meaning is like of, but you can’t use of with people.

For example:

  • This is my sister’s house. –> Correct
  • This is the house of my sister. –> Not correct, because we don’t use of with people
  • The door of my car is broken. –> Correct
  • My car’s door is broken. –> Not correct, because we don’t use ‘s with things, like your car

4. ‘s = us

In the short form let’s, ‘s is short for us.

This is the only example when ‘s is short for us—you can’t use this anywhere else, only with let’s.

5. Practice

Let’s practise these ideas:

  • He’s been to Greg’s house.
  • He’s going to Greg’s house.
  • Jane’s dog’s disappeared.
  • Jane’s dog’s very friendly.

In these four sentences, there are eight ‘s—what are they? Are they is, has or like of?

Pause the video and think about your answers.

Ready? Let’s look at the answers together.

  • He’s been to Greg’s house.

The first ‘s is short for has; the second ‘s shows that the house belongs to Greg.

  • He’s going to Greg’s house.

The first ‘s is short for is; the second ‘s shows that the house belongs to Greg.

  • Jane’s dog’s disappeared.

The first ‘s shows that the dog belongs to Jane; the second ‘s is short for has.

  • Jane’s dog’s very friendly.

The first ‘s shows that the dog belongs to Jane; the second ‘s is short for is.

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Oli RedmanHow to Use ‘s in English – Beginner Video Lesson