Just like in English, when speaking Spanish you will inevitably find yourself using certain words to talk about something that you, or another person, owns. In Spanish we call these words posesivos, or possessives in English. This is essentially the Spanish version of my, her, your, and so on. Below, we’ll take a look at exactly how the posesivos are formed, when they're used, and how you can practise using them yourself!
There are two kinds of possessive in Spanish, which we'll explain below.
Adjetivos posesivos (possessive adjectives) describe nouns, so they need to be modified for the number (singular/plural) and sometimes the gender (masculine/feminine) of the noun they're used with.
Possessive adjectives in Spanish come in two forms: the short form and the long form. Their meaning is exactly the same. The only difference is where they're used in sentences.
Whenever a possessive adjective goes before a noun, we use the short form. This is by far the most common form of the possessive adjective in Spanish:
Mi moto va muy rápido = My motorbike goes very fast
¿Dónde está tu casa? = Where is your house?
Sus hijos se llaman Bart, Lisa y Maggie = Their children are called Bart, Lisa and Maggie
¿Has conocido a nuestras vecinas? = Have you met our neighbours?
NOTE: All short form possessives reflect the number (singular or plural) of the noun they describe. To make the plural form, simply add -s to the singular:
mi coche – mis coches (my car – my cars)
su mano – sus manos (his hand – his hands)
However, only the nuestro/a/os/as and the vuestro/a/os/as forms reflect the gender of the noun they describe:
nuestros vasos – nuestras mesas (our drinking glasses – our tables)
vuestro hermano – vuestra hermana (your brother – your sister)
Whenever a possessive adjective goes after a noun, we use the long form. It's less common, but it's still very useful. In some contexts it can have a more formal or literary feel. All long form possessive adjectives reflect both the gender and number of the noun they describe:
¡Ay, amor mío! = Oh, my love!
Unos parientes suyos se van de vacaciones a Costa Rica = Some of her relatives are going on holiday to Costa Rica
¿Es una amiga tuya? = Is she a friend of yours?
Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo... = Our Father, who art in Heaven...
REMEMBER: As mentioned above, there is no difference in meaning between the short form and the long form possessive adjectives. The form they take simply depends on whether they come before or after the noun:
¿Es una amiga tuya? = ¿Es tu amiga?
¡Ay, amor mío! = ¡Ay, mi amor!
Possessive pronouns look exactly the same as long form possesive adjectives. In fact, some textbooks even get them confused!
They are used to replace nouns, so as to avoid repetition. This means that although the noun they replace doesn't appear in the sentence, its number and gender are still reflected in the possessive pronoun that appears in its place.
A possessive pronoun always follows a definite article (el, la, los or las):
¿Las llaves? Aquí están las mías ¿Dónde están las tuyas? = The keys? Here are mine. Where are yours?
Su casa está cerca de la nuestra = His house is close to ours
Me gusta tu coche, pero prefiero el mío = I like your car, but I prefer mine
1. [su, sus] libros
2. [nuestro, nuestra, nuestros, nuestras] mochila
3. [tu, tus] hermanos
4. [mi, mis] gatos
1. Te presento a ____ hermana, Gisel. Está aquí de vacaciones.
2. ¿Cuando es ____ cumpleaños?
3. Yo quiero irme a vivir con mi novia, pero ella prefiere vivir con ____ amigas todavía.
4. ¿Antonio, cómo se llama ____ perro?
1. ¿De quién es este gato? Es ____ [mine]
2. ¿De quién es esta casa? Es ____ [theirs]
3. ¿De quién son estos libros? Son ____ [yours, tú]
4. ¿De quién es esta chaqueta? Es ____ [hers]
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By Sasha Gillies-Lekakis and Phil Damon
November 2, 2020
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