A Simple Guide to Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Quickly learn how to express ownership using possessive adjectives in Spanish with this helpful guide!
In this blog post, I go over the two different forms of possessive adjectives in detail and explain the difference between possessive adjectives and pronouns. There’s even a free printable worksheet and interactive quiz at the end for extra practice.
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Once you’ve mastered possessive adjectives in Spanish with this blog post, practice what you learned with this free printable worksheet!
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What are Possessive Adjectives?
Possessive adjectives indicate who or what possesses something. They are both possessive and demonstrative in showing relationships between people and objects. Typically, possessive adjectives are used to show ownership.
Possessive Adjectives in English
Before learning the possessive adjectives in Spanish, let’s quickly review the possessive adjectives in English.
|Personal Pronoun in English||Possessive Adjective in English|
|he, she, it||his, her, its|
Their homework is on the table.
You need to bring your own drink.
My car is very old.
Short Form Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Now that we remember what possessive adjectives are, let’s learn how to use them in Spanish!
First, we’re going to go over short-form possessive adjectives. These are the most common type of possessive adjectives. These are possessive adjectives like “our,” “my,” and “your.”
For short-form possessive adjectives, the adjective is always placed before the noun that is being possessed.
Here’s an example:
He has my book.
Notice how “my” comes right before the object (book) that is being owned.
Possessive adjectives in Spanish also have a singular and plural form. So, when a person possesses multiple objects, you need to use the plural form. This is different from English where there is only one form of possessive adjective.
Take a look at this example:
Mis plumas son negras.
My pens are black.
Notice how mi becomes the plural form mis since there are multiple pens. However, the English possessive adjective “my” does not change.
Another important distinction between English and Spanish possessive adjectives is that nuestro has a feminine and masculine form. When the object is feminine, you need to use nuestra or nuestras.
Take a look at these examples!
Perdimos nuestra manta.
We lost our blanket.
Me gustan nuestras nuevas almohadas.
I like our new pillows.
Luckily, possessive adjectives in Spanish are very similar to their respective personal pronouns with easy pronunciations. This table easily breaks down each Spanish possessive adjective in their plural and singular forms.
|Personal Pronoun in Spanish||Possessive Adjective in Spanish|
|el, ella, usted||su/sus|
|ellos, ellas, ustedes||su/sus|
Let’s practice with these examples of short-form possessive adjectives!
¿Dónde está mi bolso?
Where is my purse?
Nuestro gato es naranja.
Our cat is orange.
¡Tu nuevo coche es genial!
Your new car is so cool!
Ojalá yo tuviera su casa.
I wish I had their house.
Take Note of the Accent Marks
Accent marks are incredibly important in Spanish. You will notice the different uses between tú and tu, same with mí and mi.
Tu is a possessive adjective that goes before a noun, while tú is the informal pronoun for “you.” Never put the accent mark on the possessive adjective tu, or it may cause some confusion in written Spanish. Likewise, mi and mí are completely different words. The one without a tilde is the possessive adjective. The one with an accent mark is an object pronoun that translates to “me.”
While the accent marks don’t matter in spoken Spanish, they are absolutely essential in written Spanish. So, an easy way to remember which words carry an accent mark is to note that no short-form possessive adjective in Spanish uses an accent mark.
Long Form Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Long-form possessive adjectives are a little different from the short-form ones. They are placed after the noun that they modify. Another difference is that all the long-form possessive adjectives in Spanish have both feminine and masculine forms as well as plural forms. Our chart below breaks them down for each pronoun!
|Personal Pronoun in Spanish||Possessive Adjective in Spanish|
|el, ella, usted||suyo/suyos|
|ellos, ellas, ustedes||suyo/suya|
Take a look at this list of long form possessive adjectives!
My God!/My goodness!
¿Dónde están esos zapatos tuyos?
Where are those shoes of yours?
Esta es mi silla y aquella es la silla tuya.
This is my chair and that one is your chair.
Possessive Pronouns vs. Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
It’s important to note that possessive adjectives are not the same as possessive pronouns.
Possessive pronouns help show a noun’s possession or ownership. However, they are different from possessive adjectives. Possessive pronouns are words like “mine”, “yours”, “his”, “hers”, “its”, “ours”, “yours”, and “theirs”. They replace a noun or noun phrase that has already been used in order to avoid repetition.
A key way to tell the difference between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives in Spanish is that the pronouns always have a definite article like el, la, las, or los.
Take a look at these examples!
✔ Esta casa es mía. (possessive adjective)
This is my house.
✘ Tu abuela es tan amable como la mía. (possessive pronoun)
Your grandmother is as kind as mine.
When Do You NOT Use Possessive Adjectives?
Now that you know what possessive adjectives in Spanish are, it’s important to know when to use them and when not to use them!
You might think that anytime a possession is owned by someone you need a possessive adjective. However, that’s not always the case!
There are several instances where you don’t use possessive adjectives in Spanish to show ownership. Instead, you use a definite article.
Take a look at this list of when not to use possessive adjectives in Spanish!
1. Abstract Concepts
Abstract concepts have no physical form. They’re things like ideas, emotions, and feelings.
La muchacha había perdido la ilusión por los estudios.
The girl had lost her enthusiasm for her studies.
El nuevo alumno había perdido la motivación por sus estudios.
The new student had lost his motivation for his studies.
2. Obvious Possessions of the Speaker
When it’s very obvious that the object in question belongs to the speaker, no possessive adjective is used.
Me voy a la casa.
I’m leaving for (my) home.
Se me caen los pantalones.
My pants are falling down.
3. Body Parts
Unlike in English, possessive adjectives in Spanish are almost never used when talking about body parts.
Me duele la panza.
My stomach hurts.
Tienes los ojos muy claros.
You have fair-colored eyes.
Confusion With Su and Sus
The possessive adjectives su and sus can create lots of confusion since they have so many possible meanings!
There are several definitions for su/sus. It can be translated as “his,” “her,” “its,” and formal “your” among others.
For clarity’s sake, native speakers usually only use su/sus after the ownership has already been established.
In order to first establish ownership, native speakers use prepositional phrases with personal pronouns or names instead of the adjectives.
Let’s look at an example to see how this might help!
Pablo es su gato.
Pablo is its cat.
Notice how this sentence is unclear. We don’t know whose cat it is. His? Hers? Yours? Theirs?
Possessive Prepositional Phrase
Pablo es el gato de Maria.
Pablo is Maria’s cat.
This sentence is much better and clearly depicts the owner of the cat.
Possessive Prepositional Phrase Formula
Now let’s learn the formula to create possessive prepositional phrases!
definite/indefinite article + entity possessed + de + pronoun/name of possessor
Es la silla de ella.
It’s her seat.
La casa de Elena está allí.
Elena’s house is there.
La tienda de Alán está cerrada.
Alan’s store is closed.
Possessive Adjectives in Spanish Quiz
Test your Spanish possessive adjective knowledge with this fun interactive quiz!
1. ¿Dónde está __ calcetín? (Where is my sock?)
2. __ casa es nueva. (Our house is new.)
3. ¿Te gustan __ gafas? (Do you like my glasses?)
4. Mira __ elegante coche. (Look at their fancy car.)
5. ¿Me puedes prestar __ zapatos? (Can I borrow your shoes?)
6. __ sofá necesita almohadas. (Our couch needs pillows.)
7. __ casa es __ casa. (My house is your house.)
8. __ amigos son agradables. (My friends are nice.)
9. __ meta es terminar esto para el viernes. (Our goal is to finish this by Friday.)
10. __ mamá y __ hermanos son muy amables. (Her mom and her siblings are very kind.)
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