I had to put up a poster asking not to leave personal items in the places shared by the staff in our office. I wrote, "Please keep your personal belongings in your possession, not the communal places. Thanks for your understanding." What halted me from tacking it up is the use of the phrase "in your possession." Could this be interpreted as keeping their belongings in their bags, in their drawers, on their desk etc., not just owning them?

Many thanks in advance.

Hi Hiro,

It could even be taken to mean 'keep them with you'. Perhaps you could just write 'Please do not leave your personal items here (or 'in the communal areas')'? A simple approach is often good.

Best wishes, Clive
Frederick T. Wood, in his book, "English Prepositional Idiom" (1976), says that there is a fine distinction between "in possession of" and "in the possession of":

a. in possession of --- having possession of: "He can't be in possession of his senses...'

b. in the possession of --- possessed by: "All the deeds are in the possession of my solicitor."

Do the native speakers still observe this distinction?
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
I observe the distinction. I imagine other native speakers do, too.

(EX) I (am in possession of) him = I own him.
(EX) He is in (my possession) = He is mine.

Can we generalize "be in (no THE) verb-derived abstract noun = verb"?

Do you mean something like "to be in fear" = "to fear"? Or "to be in love" = "to love"?
If so, I doubt that the generalization can be very inclusive, as there are many cases where "to be in xxx" is not an accepted combination.

*"to be in hate" = "to hate"

Most of the -tion nouns derived from verbs don't make any sense that way.

*"to be in demonstration" = "to demonstrate"

Do you have a lot of examples of this? Because I am feeling quite challenged trying to think of others besides possession and fear and love.

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies

Thanks for the quick reply. I think "charge" and "control" behave in a way similar to "possession". Am I right?

Absolutely, when something or someone is in your possession that generally means you have control and can take charge of your possession. For example, if you were a female in a possessive relationship, your boyfriend sees you as his possession, thus he takes charge and controls you. So, you see charge and control are directly related to "possession."
unlawfully possess a control substance meaning
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.