If my understanding is correct, the possessive personal pronouns (which are mine, thine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, and theirs) are used in place of nouns, whereas the possessive determiners (which are my, thy, your, his, her, its, our, and their) are used as adjectives.

If this is the case, then why is example 1 below correct, as opposed to example 2?

  1. Whose book is this? It is mine.
  2. Whose book is this? It is *my.
  • 2
    Because it's a determiner. It's gotta determine something. You can't say What book is this? It is ∗the", or *How many books are these? They are ∗some, either. – StoneyB Aug 25 '13 at 17:48
  • 2
    If you’re asking why the possessive determiners fail the predicate test of being usable in a copula, it’s because determiners are neither substantives nor adjectives. – tchrist Aug 25 '13 at 19:09

Adjective and noun are not useful categories here. Mine and its like function as NP (noun phrases), while my etc function as determiners, that require a head (such as a noun) to form a NP.

  • Agreed that calling determiners “adjectives” is not useful. Determiners fall in a very specific distinct slot in a noun phrase, and cannot just be stuck any which way: you never have “distinct very any specific slots”, for example. – tchrist Aug 25 '13 at 19:03
  • But then you'd never say my blue little old nice jug, either. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 25 '13 at 22:02
  • I think it would be easier to say my/your/ his etc are used + noun. These explanations with determiners confuse as we see here. If someone asks why is "It is my" wrong, then his books have filled his head with unpractical confusing overcomplicated theories. – rogermue Feb 1 '14 at 13:49
  • And I would like to add: my+ noun, mine without noun. A simple thing. But nowadays it is possible to present this simple matter with a blown-up apparatus of new grammatical terms and the people who do this really think that's the only way to explain grammar. – rogermue Feb 1 '14 at 13:59

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