What is the difference between to own and to possess? I own a phone and I possess a phone. Explain me the difference?

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    Please show us your own research efforts and example sentences you find confusing. As it stands, your question is off-topic for lack of research and context. Search and research Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer! – user140086 Jul 18 '16 at 11:11
  • I'm not sure that this is a grammar question so much as a philosophical question, or possibly a legal one. – Benjamin Harman Jul 18 '16 at 12:14
  • It is the question about the word choice/usage. Who told you that it is meant to be a grammar question? – Jenny Wilson Jul 19 '16 at 14:53
  • What research????????????? If I am asking, I have nothing done on it and I need clarification. People. come on...Be less complicated – Jenny Wilson Jul 19 '16 at 15:00
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    @JennyWilson If you have done no research on it, don't expect us to do it for you. – Kit Z. Fox Jul 19 '16 at 16:18

Ownership and Possession connote same property in our minds. It is only when we look at the two words under a legal angle that we come to see the real difference between the two terms.

If I have a motorcycle, I have its possession, and its ownership belongs to me. It seems that the two concepts are intertwined and inseparable. One gets a clear distinction of ownership and possession when he takes a look at the property laws that include these two concepts.


When an individual has legal rights over a property, he is said to own it. Ownership is a right that grants a thing or an object to a person in such a manner that the thing is said to belong to that person. If a person owns something in the eyes of law, the thing belongs to him to the exclusion of others.

When you buy a motorcycle in your name, the ownership or the title of the motorcycle belongs to you and no one else can make a claim to be the owner of the motorcycle. The same is the case with the home that you buy through financial help from the bank once you have paid all the installments. If you are living in a rented apartment, you can say that you are in possession of that apartment, but you cannot claim ownership as the title of the apartment remains in the name of the person who bought it. Similarly, you own the pens you bought, but when you borrow a pen to fill a form in an office, you have the possession for the time being but not its ownership. This means that permanence is one strong feature of ownership.

Ownership is proved beyond doubt by title to a property. If there is a dispute over a property with two people claiming ownership while one of them has the physical possession of the land, the court decides in favor of the person who has the title deed in his favor. Ownership is a fact that can be proved through title of the property.


The physical control over a thing provides one a possession of that thing. For example, the house that a person lives in with his family is said to be under his possession and so are all other things that he keeps under his control. Possession automatically does not imply ownership as many a times; people have temporary possession of things. This is true for most of the time in our lives except when we are talking about objects and valuable that we have actually bought in our name.

A criminal may be in possession of the stolen property or money that actually belongs to another person. Often, possession of a weapon from a suspect is held against him as if he has used it to commit a crime.

To be in brief,

• Ownership signifies permanence whereas possession is mostly temporary.

• The buyer of a car, who owns it, may lend it to a driver who is said to be in possession of the car. However, the possession of the car by the driver does not entitle him to ownership of the car.

• Actual possession means physical control of a thing whereas ownership means the name in the title deed.

• Power and intention to control a thing is important in the concept of possession.

• Ownership is a guarantee by law whereas possession is a physical control.

• Ownership does not require possession.

Hope it helps !

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Ownership is an abstract notion: who does the object belong to? Possession is a concrete notion: who has physical control of the object?

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