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3.4: Los adjetivos posesivos

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    Possessive Adjectives

    Possessive adjectives agree with the nouns they modify. That is, they agree with what is possessed, not the possessor.

    In the following examples, the singular and plural endings are noted in bold.

    Spanish English Spanish English
    mi cuaderno my notebook su silla your, his, her, their chair
    tus cuadernos your notebooks sus sillas your, his, her, their chairs

    Possessive Adjectives

    Before singular nouns Before plural nouns English
    mi mis my
    tu tus your (singular, familiar)
    su sus your (singular, formal), his, her
    nuestro, nuestra nuestros, nuestras our
    vuestro, vuestra vuestros, vuestras your (plural, familiar)
    su sus your (plural, formal), their (masculine, feminine)

    Notice that in addition to agreeing in number, "nuestro, nuestra, nuestros, nuestras" and "vuestro, vuestra, vuestros, vuestras" also change to agree with the noun they modify in gender (masculine or feminine).

    In the following examples, the masculine and feminine endings are noted in bold.

    Gender and Number Agreement Spanish Masculine English Spanish Feminine English
    Spanish Singular nuestro libro our book vuestra casa your house
    Spanish Plural nuestros libros our books vuestras casas your houses

    Phrases with "de"

    Unlike English, Spanish does not use "apostrophe + s" construction to express possession. Instead, we use "article + noun + de + subject pronoun or noun" to express possession.

    English: Spanish:
    María's mom La madre de María
    Pedro's cousins Los primos de Pedro

    Since the possessive adjective "su" and "sus" can refer to several owners (usted, él, ella, ustedes, ellos, ellas), the phrase "article + noun + de + subject pronoun" is often used to avoid confusion on who the owner is. Observe the difference between the following two sentences:

    Owner not specified:

    Su casa es bonita.

    Owner specified:



    La casa de ella es bonita.




    On the examples for "owner specified" above, any of the subject pronouns in bold can be used.

    As you learned previously, when the preposition "de" precedes the article "el", they contract to "del". Note that it does not form a contraction with the subject pronoun "él" as it is not an article.

    The formula "ser + de + subject pronoun or noun" is normally used to express possession:

    • La casa grande es de Vanessa y Carlos.
    • El cuaderno es de él.
    • La calculadora es de Ud.
    • Los diccionarios son de las chicas.

    The examples above use bold to highlight the use of the formula "ser + de + subject pronoun or noun".