Possessive Adjectives in Spanish

Possessive adjectives are used to communicate to whom something belongs to. They show which person owns or possesses something. Like other Spanish adjectives, in most cases a possessive adjective must match the noun it modifies in gender and number. In Spanish, there are two types of possessive adjectives: (1) Short-form and (2) Long-form.

Short-form Possessive Adjectives

Short-form is the most common type of possessive adjectives. Like most adjectives in Spanish, they must agree in number and gender with the noun they modify (not the person possessing the noun). Short-form possessive adjectives always precede the noun they describe. Short-form possessive adjectives include:

  • mi(s) (my)
  • tu(s) (your familiar)
  • su(s) (his, her, your formal)
  • nuestro(s), nuestra(s) (our)
  • vuestro(s), vuestra(s) (your familiar)
  • su(s) (their, your formal)

Review the following examples of short-form adjectives in Spanish.

My book.
(singular, masculine)
Mi libro.
My books.
(plural, masculine)
Mis libros.
Our cat.
(singular, masculine)
Nuestro gato.
Your cats.
(familiar, plural, masculine)
Tus gatos.

My little sister is very pretty.
Mi hermana menor es muy bonita.
Where are your shoes.
¿Dónde están tus zapatos?
They are your books?
¿Son sus libros?
Our car is very fast.
Nuestro carro es muy rápido.
Your teacher is very intelligent.
Vuestra profesora es muy inteligente.
Your house is big.
Su casa es grande.

In English, it's quite common to use possessive adjectives even when ownership or possession is quite obvious, such as someones body parts or personal possessions. In Spanish, possessive adjectives are not used (1) when possession is obvious, (2) when an item falls within one's personal sphere and (3) for natural capabilities or facilities. Consider the following exmaples.

Do you like your new clothes?
¿Te gusta la ropa nueva?
My leg hurts.
Me duele la pierna.
I'm leaving for my home.
Me voy a la casa.
My dress is falling down.
Se me cae el vestido.
He has lost his enthusiasm for the game.
Él había perdido la ilusión por el juego.

Long-form Possessive Adjectives

While not as common as short-form possessive adjectives, long-form possessive adjectives are still used in modern day Spanish to emphasize possession or ownership of something, a personal relationship, or to contract one owner with another. They must also match in number and gender with the noun they describe. Long-form possessive adjectives include:

  • mio(s), mia(s) (mine)
  • tuyo(s), tuya(s) (your familiar)
  • suyo, suya (his, hers, yours formal)
  • nuestra(s), nuestro(s) (ours)
  • vuestra(s), vuestro(s) (your familiar feminine)
  • suyo(s), suya(s) (theirs, yours formal)

Unlike short-form possessive adjectives which always precede the noun they describe, long-form possessive adjectives are placed after the noun they describe. Review the following examples of long-form adjectives in Spanish.

My book.
El libro mio.
(Mi libro.)
Where are your shirts?
¿Dónde están las camisetas tuyas?
(¿Dónde están tus camisetas?)
My houses.
Las casas mías.
(Mis casas.)
Your houses.
Las casas suyas.
(Sus casas.)
Your appointments are at 8 and 9 o'clock.
Las citas vuestras son a las ocho y nueve.
Vuestras citas son a las ocho y nueve.
Our car is blue.
El carro nuestro es azul.
(Nuestro carro es azul.)
This is my food and that is yours.
Esta es mi comida y aquélla es la tuya.
(Esta es mi comida y aquélla es tu comida.)

Possessive Prepositional Phrases

The Spanish possessive adjective "su" can mean his, her(s), their and your(s). To avoid ambiguity associated with using "su" sometimes a prepositional phrase with personal pronouns or names is used instead.

It's his gun.
Es la pistola de él.
(Es su pistola.)
My mom's house is over there.
La casa de mi mamá está allí.
(Su casa está allí.)