Possessive Adjectives

Adjetivos posesivos

Possessive adjectives are the words used in place of articles to indicate to whom or to what something belongs. Their usage is similar to English, but there are some differences in form.

In Spanish there are different forms of possessive adjectives depending on whether the noun is masculine or feminine, singular or plural. There are also two different sets of possessive adjectives: short/unstressed forms (explained here) and long / stressed forms.

Short forms of Spanish possessives

  Singular Plural
  masc fem masc fem
my   mi mi mis mis
your (tú)   tu tu tus tus
his, her, your (Ud.)   su su sus sus
our   nuestro nuestra nuestros nuestras
your (vosotros)   vuestro vuestra vuestros vuestras
sus su
their, your (Uds.)   su su

Spanish has many more possessives than English. For 2nd and 3rd person plural subjects (nosotros, vosotros), there are four forms of the possessive. The gender and number of the noun possessed determine which form to use.

  Our Your
masc sing   nuestro libro vuestro libro
fem sing   nuestra mesa vuestra mesas
masc plural   nuestros libros vuestros libros
fem plural   nuestras mesas vuestras mesas

Singular subjects (I, you, he) and third person plural (they) have only two forms: singular and plural.

  My Your His / Her / Their
sing:   mi libro tu libro su libro
plural:   mis mesas tus mesas sus mesas

An important difference between Spanish and English is in the third person. In English you have to choose between his, her, its, and their, whereas in Spanish there is no distinction by gender, only by number. Su and sus can each mean his, her, its, your, or their depending on the context.

Por ejemplo …

Su cama can mean his bed, her bed, its bed (e.g., the dog’s), your bed, or their bed. To clarify, you can use the possessive de.

Tengo su libro.
¿De quién?
El libro de Ana.

When describing two or more nouns, a possessive adjective must be used in front of each one.

his brother and sister   su hermano y su hermana

Test: Possessive adjectives

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