How to Use Possessive Pronouns in Spanish to Express Ownership
Pronouns are simply words that replace nouns in sentences. They change depending on where and how they’re used in a sentence. Pronouns are used to express possession, direction, and more.
Today, let’s explore the possessive pronouns in Spanish!
What’s Mine is Yours, Or Is It?
In any language, “mine” tends to be one of the first words a child learns! Possessive pronouns in Spanish answer the question “Whose is it?” or ¿De quien es? They express who has ownership of an object.
In English, the possessive pronouns are mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, and ours. They act as nouns in a sentence, whereas other possessives like my, your, his, her, their, and our act as adjectives. Due to gender and number agreement, Spanish has four forms for each pronoun: singular masculine, singular feminine, plural masculine and plural feminine.
Check out this handy chart of possessive pronouns in Spanish:
|mío, mía, míos, mías||my, mine|
|tuyo, tuya, tuyos, tuyas||your, yours (informal)|
|suyo, suya, suyos, suyas||his, hers, your/yours (formal), its, theirs|
|nuestro, nuestra, nuestros, nuestras||our, ours|
Possessive Pronouns vs Possessive Adjectives
Let’s take a quick detour and find out the difference between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives since they are easily confused by Spanish learners of every level.
What are possessive adjectives, you ask? As their name suggests, these words are adjectives used to express ownership. A possessive adjective always accompanies a noun. However, unlike in English, Spanish has two forms of possessive adjectives: a short form used before the noun and a long form used after the noun. The short form Spanish possessive adjectives are: mi, mis, tu, tus, su, sus, nuestro/a, and nuestros/as.
¿Te gusta nuestro jardín? – Do you like our garden?
Ella es mi mejor amiga. – She is my best friend.
Su pelo es largo. – Her hair is long.
Possessive pronouns in Spanish take the same form as the long form of the possessive adjectives, mío, tuyo, suyo, and nuestro, along with their plural and feminine counterparts. The long-form possessive adjectives are:
mío, mía, míos, mías — my, of mine
tuyo, tuya, tuyos, tuyas — your (singular familiar), of yours
suyo, suya, suyos, suyas — your (singular or plural formal), its, his, her, their, of yours, of his, of hers, of theirs
nuestro, nuestra, nuestros, nuestras — our, of ours
Esta casa es nuestra. – This house is ours.
Son zapatos míos. – They are my shoes. / They are shoes of mine.
Prefiero la ropa tuya. – I prefer your clothes. / I prefer the clothes of yours.
Voy a la tienda suya. – I am going to his/her/your/their store. / I am going to the store of his/hers/yours/theirs.
Es una bicicleta nuestra. – It is our bike. / It is a bike of ours.
Estas cuestiones son tuyas para manejar. – These issues are yours to deal with.
Cuido de tus hijos como si fueran míos. – I take care of your kids as if they were mine.
Esta blusa no es mía. Es tuya. – This shirt isn’t mine. It’s yours.
Some grammarians actually consider the possessive adjectives to be a type of pronoun. Because of the overlap, a helpful trick to use to distinguish between possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns is to replace them with a noun or an adjective. For example:
Tu madre y la mía fueron = Tu madre y mi madre (noun) fueron [possessive pronoun]
Como si fueran míos = como si fueran pequeños (adjective) [possessive adjective]
With the exception of when they’re followed by forms of ser, possessive pronouns are preceded by el, la, lo, los, or las. The one you use is based on whether the word you’re saying is masculine or feminine and singular or plural.
For example, the singular masculine possessive for “mine” is el mío. Singular feminine is la mía. The plural versions are los míos/las mías. If you’re saying a book (el libro, masculine) is yours, you would say “Es el mío” (“It is mine”). For books, it’s Son los míos (“They are mine”). If the apple (la manzana, feminine) is yours, then it’s Es la mía, or plural Son las mías.
The rule of thumb to remember is that possessive pronouns in Spanish must match the nouns they represent in both number and gender, much like adjectives do. They don’t have to match the number or gender of the person or thing who possesses the subject of the sentence. In other words, if I am a singular female person and I am discussing the whereabouts of my male pet cat, I would say El mío está afuera, (Mine is outside) because el gato is masculine. To say La mía está afuera—in an attempt to represent the owner’s gender—is incorrect.
Example Sentences with Possessive Pronouns in Spanish
Tu madre y la mía fueron al mercado. – Your mother and mine went to the market.
No me gustan los carros negros. El mío es verde. – I don’t like black cars. Mine is green.
¿Dónde está mi regalo? El tuyo está aquí. – Where is my gift? Yours is here.
Mis zapatos son blancos. Los suyos son gris. – My shoes are white. His/hers/yours/theirs are gray.
Amo a mi marido. Ella no quiere al suyo. – I love my husband. She doesn’t love hers.
Has visto mis llaves? Aqui estan las suyas. – Have you seen my keys? Here are yours.
¿Te gusta tu carro? No me gusta el nuestro. – Do you like your car? I don’t like ours.
¿Dónde fueron los nuestros? – Where did ours go?
The Ambiguity of Suyo
Depending on the context, suyo and its related forms can mean his, hers, yours, theirs, or its. Because suyo is ambiguous, you can clarify what you mean by replacing it with de + object pronoun. Specifically:
de él, de ella, de usted, de ustedes, de ellos, de ellas
This is mostly only true for suyo/a and suyos/as. You can’t say el carro es de mí or but you can say este es el terreno de nosotros. While it isn’t technically incorrect, it sounds strange to use the “de + object pronoun” for other possessive pronouns in Spanish other than those listed above and nosotros. As I mentioned, you can’t substitute de mí for mío.
No es mi jardin. Es de ella. – It’s not my garden. It’s hers.
¿Dónde están mis libros? Los de él están en la mesa. – Where are my books? His are on the table.
En nuestras casas hay mujeres; en las de ellos, hombres. – In our houses there are women; in theirs, men.
The Possessive Neuter Form
The single, masculine form of the pronouns can also be treated as neuter (neither masculine nor feminine). In these cases, it is preceded by the definite article lo. Although it’s singular, the pronoun lo can stand for more than one object. The neuter form should be used when no specific object is being referred to.
No toques lo mío. – Don’t touch what is mine. / Don’t touch my things.
Lo mío es esencial. – What is mine is essential. / My things are important.
Es intolerable que nuestros líderes no valoran lo nuestro. – It is intolerable that our leaders don’t value what is ours. / It is intolerable that our leaders don’t value our traditions.
Now that you’re a pro at using possessive pronouns in Spanish, it’s time to improve your Spanish skills in live conversation! Homeschool Spanish Academy offers flexible and fun Spanish classes personalized to your level. Our native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala will be glad to help you advance with reading, writing, listening and speaking. Sign up for a free trial today to see how quickly you’ll progress by talking to a professional, certified Spanish teacher!
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