The Spanish Possessive Adjectives and Pronouns (“Adjetivos y Pronombres Posesivos”) are a collection of words which express who owns something. They are the equivalent of the English words “my, mine”, “your, yours”, “his”, etc.
As usual, this collection of words is bigger in Spanish, because we have to distinguish masculine and feminine forms, and also singular and plural forms.
Additionally, in this topic we have two sets of words: short-form and long-form, and we must use one or the other depending on the position the word occupies within the sentence.
Clarification: What we mean with masculine-feminine, singular-plural forms
In this lesson, whenever you find the concepts masculine-feminine, singular-plural, we are always saying it in relation to THE OWNED THING, not to the person who owns it. It is to the owned thing that you have to match the possessive adjectives and pronouns.
With that in mind, let’s study the forms, starting with the short ones.
Possessive Adjectives – Short Forms
1. When using the short forms, you need to always match the number of the owned thing, but you don’t need to pay attention to the gender except for two exceptions: “nuestro” and “vuestro”, which do have masculine and feminine variations..
2. “His”, “her”, “their” and the polite “your” are actually the same word in Spanish. That means if I say “su perro” without giving any other information or context, no one would know if I mean “his dog”, “her dog”, “their dog” or a polite “your dog”.
Here is the list:
English Singular Plural
my mi mis
your (of you guy) tu tus
our nuestro, nuestra nuestros, nuestras
your (of you guys) vuestro, vuestra vuestros, vuestras
his, her, their, polite your su sus
When do we use the Short Forms?
The short forms are always placed directly before the sustantive (the owned thing).
Mi camiseta es azul = My t-shirt is blue.
Su coche es alemán = His/her/their/ your (polite) car is german.
Nuestras vecinas tienen un perro = Our neighbors (female neighbors) have a dog.
Notice that in all these examples, the possessive adjective is placed directly before the owned thing. That’s why we have used the short forms.
Possessive Adjectives – Long Forms
When using the long forms, you always need to match BOTH the number and the gender of the owned thing.
Here is the list:
English Masculine Singular Masculine Plural Feminine Singular Feminine Plural
mine mío míos mía mías
yours (of you guy) tuyo tuyos tuya tuyas
ours nuestro nuestros nuestra nuestras
yours (of you guys) vuestro vuestros vuestra vuestras
his, her, theirs, polite yours suyo suyos suya suyas
When do we use the Long Forms?
The long forms are placed anywhere in the sentence, EXCEPT directly before the substantive (the owned thing).
La camiseta es mía = The t-shirt is mine.
El coche es suyo = The car belongs to him/her/them/ you (polite).
Las gafas son nuestras = the glasses belong to us.
Notice that in all these examples, the possessive adjective is never placed directly before the owned thing. That’s why we have used the long forms.
Possessive Pronouns – Always Long Forms!
The possessive pronouns are the long forms we have already seen. What makes them a pronouns is that they are placed after a definite article (“el – la – los – las”). In this case, they work as full substitutes of the substantive, rather than just modifying it.
El mío es verde = Mine is green. (“mine” is substituting a substantive, for example, “my notebook”).
Mi impresora es más moderna que la tuya = My printer is bigger than yours. (here, “yours” = your printer)