Animate party that has a piece of property (something potentially with monetary value: the Possession) on a permanent or temporary basis. The Possession must be alienable, i.e. not a part or attribute of the Possessor.

Prototypically expressed with the s-genitive (GenitivesPossessives: 's and possessive pronouns), and of (the of-genitive):

the house of the Smith family 001 the Smith family's house 002
the corgis of Queen Elizabeth 003 Queen Elizabeth's corgis 004

Possessor is not limited to cases of ownership, but also includes temporary forms of possession, such when something is on loan to or under the control of the possessor. The Possessor may be borrowing, renting, wearing, or holding the property:

  • John's hotel room [the room John is staying in as a guest] 005

  • Mary's delivery truck [the company truck that Mary drives as an employee] 006

There may be an implicit piece of property of which the stated item is a part:

  • My windshield (= the windshield of my vehicle) is foggy. [contrast Gestalt#017] 023

A wearer of attire may be construed in multiple ways:

the cloak of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named 007 He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's cloak 008

Pets, by default, are treated as property rather than family members (#003).

Abstract possession#

For Possessor/Possession to apply to an abstract piece of property, the property must be a commodity in the financial/commercial domain, or information stored externally to the Possessor in physical or electronic media.

  • Commodity:
    • my shares of stock 011
    • my insurance (= insurance that I “own”) 012
  • Stored information:

This excludes other abstract notions that can be metaphorically possessed or transferred:

Creation or transfer of an item#

Originator should be preferred as the scene role wherever it is clear that the party in question created the item:

In cases of explicit transfer, the initial possessor of something is labeled Originator, and the final possessor of something transferred is the Recipient. However, when there is a possessed item whose transfer is merely assumed from context or world knowledge (and the party in question is not the creator), default to Possessor:

  • The shopkeeper's/store's merchandise is fantastic. [item to be sold] 020
  • Waiter, is my food ready? [item identified or ordered for purchase] 021
  • Use my money (the money that I gave you) wisely! [item that was transferred] 022

Possessed nouns like gift and contribution that refer to an entity but lexically imply a previous transfer event should be Possessor unless another argument of the noun disambiguates Originator vs. Recipient by process of elimination:


Communicative acts are treated as transfer of information, and thus Originator and Recipient apply to the communicator and addressee, respectively.

See also Ancillary, Beneficiary, Org, OrgMember, and Genitives/Possessives.

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Supercategory: Gestalt