Possessives in Spanish always express possession or belonging, they tell who the “owner” is, and agree with the noun (whatever is owned) in gender and number. They’re used mainly as adjectives and have two forms: long and short. But did you know that possessives can also work on their own? If you’re curious about Spanish possessives, keep reading!
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For a review of grammar terms used in the post, make sure to check out the Unpacking the grammar section at the end!
Possessive adjectives in Spanish
¿Qué vas a llevar? -Voy a llevar mi cámara y mis gafas de sol.
What are you taking? -I’m taking my camera and my sunglasses.
You need to pay extra attention here: in Spanish, the form of the possessive adjective corresponds to the owner and it agrees with the item owned, not with the owner:
Es mi libro.
It’s my book.
⤷ item owned
|Spanish short possessive adjectives|
|su||sus||her, his, your, its|
|nuestro, nuestra||nuestros, nuestras||our|
|*vuestro, vuestra||*vuestros, vuestras||your|
*Did you know?
Possessive vuestro, vuestra, vuestros and vuestras (your) are used mainly in Spain. But did you know they are also used in some parts of Peru?
¿Dónde está nuestra cabaña? -Está a 15 kilómetros del centro.
Where’s our cabin? -It’s 15 kilometers from downtown.
Nuestras maletas están en el carro.
Our suitcases are in the car.
Mi hermana me prestó su sombrero.
My sister lent me her hat.
Visitemos a Felipe. ¿Te dio su dirección?
Let’s visit Felipe. Did he give you his address?
Unlike English, in Spanish we use definite articles instead of possessive adjectives when we talk about parts of the body, clothes, and other personal objects when the item involved belongs to the person being referred to. Let’s see some examples:
Me duele la cabeza. My head hurts.
¿Te lavo el pantalón? Do you want me to wash your pants
Me puse los lentes de sol. I put on my sunglasses.
Long possessive adjectives
La maleta grande es mía y la mochila pequeña es tuya.
The big suitcase is mine and the small backpack is yours.
|Spanish long possessive adjectives|
|mío, mía||míos, mías||mine|
|tuyo, tuya||tuyos, tuyas||your|
|suyo, suya||suyos, suyas||hers, his, yours, its|
|nuestro, nuestra||nuestros, nuestras||ours|
|vuestro, vuestra||vuestros, vuestras||yours|
|suyo, suya||suyos, suyas||theirs, yours|
Este bolso aquí es mío y esta cámara es mía.
This bag here is mine and this camera is mine.
Esos zapatos son tuyos y esas gafas de sol son tuyas.
Those shoes are yours and these sunglasses are yours.
I have a challenge for you now. Take a look at the two sentences below. Can you tell me what the difference is? Do they mean exactly the same thing? Take your time:
Esteban es mi primo.
Esteban is my cousin.
Esteban es primo mío.
Esteban is a cousin of mine.
Now, when do we use short or long possessive adjectives? To answer this, we have created this cheat-sheet with different cases and examples for each.
Possessive pronouns in Spanish
Possessive pronouns are also words used to indicate possession. The difference from possessive adjectives is that, since they’re pronouns, they replace the nouns previously mentioned. If you remember long possessive adjectives, then you’re one step closer towards mastering possessive pronouns: they’re the same! All you need to add is a definite article (el, la, los, las) before. Let’s see this in detail:
-Aquí está el mío,
Have you seen my bathing suit? -Here’s mine, but I don’t know where yours is.
–¿Este vaso es tuyo o mío? Is this cup yours or mine?
–Es tuyo. It’s yours.
Notice that after the verb ser, the article is dropped:
–¿De quién son estos zapatos?
Whose shoes are these?
Unless you are choosing between items:
¿Cuáles son tus zapatos?
–Estos son los míos, y aquellos son los tuyos.
Which ones are your shoes?
These are mine, and those are yours.
To sum up
Today we learned the differences between possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns in Spanish. Here’s a summary for you:
|Spanish possessive adjectives|
|Use||shows ownership and is placed before the noun it modifies.||shows ownership and is placed after the noun it modifies.||replaces the noun previously mentioned and is used with definite articles.|
|Forms||every form has a singular and plural, but only the forms for nosotros and vosotros have masculine and feminine.||every form has masculine, feminine, and plural.||every form has masculine, feminine, and plural.|
el niño pequeño the small childDefinite articles in Spanish are the equivalent of the English article “the” and are words that are used to make nouns specific.
- Definite articles in Spanish are el, la, los, and las.