possessive pronouns in Spanish

Possessive Pronouns in Spanish — A Complete Guide with Examples

Kirsten Agla

What is the Spanish Possessive?

When going to someone’s house for a visit, you may have heard the host welcome you and other guests by saying mi casa es su casa, which means “my house is your house.” This Spanish phrase has somehow made its way into American English, and is a great example of the Spanish possessive form in action!

The possessive is a way to describe the relationship between a person and an object, such as “his pencil” or a person with another person, like “my mother.” Essentially it answers the question, whose is this? And possessive pronouns in Spanish will answer this question in short.

Studying the possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns in Spanish in groups will definitely help you master them, so let’s start with possessive adjectives first. 

possessive pronouns in spanish: mi casa es su casa door decor sign
Image from DutchNovelties.com

Possessive Adjectives in Spanish

What Is Possessive Adjective in Spanish?

The example sentence mi casa es su casa uses possessive adjectives. This means that the mi in mi casa is an adjective that describes who the house belongs to, as does the su in su casa. Also, the possessive adjective replaces the article in front of a word – it wouldn’t make sense to say “the my house”, would it!

As you may have learned:

  • in Spanish the adjective must match the word that it is describing when it comes to gender (masculine or feminine) as well as number (singular or plural).
  • Some adjectives that are gender-neutral and don’t change no matter the gender of the word being described, as you will see coming up.

To continue with the word casa as our example, “their yellow house” in Spanish is su casa amarilla. Yellow is an adjective describing the house, therefore it must be feminine and singular like the word casa. Su is a gender-neutral word so there is no change needed in that regard, but must be singular because the house is singular. 

A common mistake that Spanish learners make is to have the possessive adjective match the gender and number of who the thing belongs to, thinking that if something belongs to “them” plural, the word for “their” must also be plural to follow Spanish grammar rules. Like in the above example, you may be tempted to say sus casa for “their house,” but this is incorrect. The possessive adjective must match casa and be singular because casa is the word being described. So watch out!

Here are some more phrases that demonstrate the do’s and don’ts of agreement:

possessive pronouns in spanish: do's and don't of spanish possessive adjective agreement
Possessive pronouns in Spanish: correct and incorrect possessive adjective agreements

Possessive Adjectives in Spanish: Chart and Examples

Gender-neutral possessive adjectives

Below are all of the possessive adjectives in Spanish conveniently divided into singular and plural. These are gender-neutral, so you don’t have to worry about making the gender match!

  • If the person or object being described is singular, such as la planta, then use the singular column on the left.
  • If it is plural, like las plantas, use the plural on the right side!

Gender-neutral Spanish possessive adjectives:

Singular Plural
My mi mis
Your (informal) tu tus
His su sus
Her su sus
Your (formal) su  sus
Their su sus
You all’s (formal) su sus

You may have noticed that a lot of these are the same – so many su and sus! Fear not, this is explained later in the ambiguous “suyo” (click to skip to this part).

Gendered possessive adjectives

Now we come to the possessive adjectives in Spanish that are gendered. This means that if a word is masculine, like el café, you have to use the singular masculine form nuestro café for “our coffee” and vuestro café for “you all’s coffee.”

Simply look at the word that you want to add the possessive to, and match it to the correct gender and number below:

Singular masculine Singular feminine Plural masculine Plural feminine

Our

nuestro nuestra nuestros nuestras
You all’s (informal) vuestro vuestra vuestros

vuestras

Here are some examples to demonstrate how to match the right possessive adjective to the word. 

  • The pencil – el lápiz
  • Her pencil – su lápiz
  • The mother – la madre
  • Our mother – nuestra madre
  • The apartment – el apartamento
  • My apartment – mi apartamento
  • The food – la comida
  • Your (informal) food – tu comida

Practice with any Spanish vocabulary words, and watch out not to mix up with possessive pronouns in Spanish.

Possessive Pronouns in Spanish

What Is Possessive Pronouns in Spanish?

Possessive pronouns in Spanish are counterpart words like “mine” and “theirs” in English that replace a noun in a sentence. If someone asks you which car to take to the store, you can say “mine” instead of “my car” because you already know from the context that you are talking about cars.

Pronouns are useful tools that allow us to shorten sentences and avoid needless repetition. For instance, instead of “Paul went to his house” you can say “he went to his.” Much simpler, right?

possessive pronouns in spanish: demontration of pronouns in a sentence

A possessive pronoun in Spanish must agree with the gender and number of the word that it is replacing. Therefore vámonos a mi casa would become vámonos a la mía. Notice that the article is included with the pronoun. 

In general, you will include the article with the pronoun except when using the verb ser – “to be”. This is partly because sentences with “to be” are already describing the relationship between the person and the object, like in the sentence “whose is this?” Here are some examples using ser -“to be” that exclude the article.

The car is mineEl coche es mío

The notebook is hersEl cuaderno es suyo

That table is oursEsa mesa es nuestra

Possessive Pronouns in Spanish: Chart and Examples

This is a complete chart of the possessive pronouns in Spanish that makes gender and number agreement easy!

Singular masculine Singular feminine Plural masculine Plural feminine

Mine

el mío la mía los míos las mías

Yours (informal)

el tuyo la tuya los tuyos las tuyas

His

el suyo la suya los suyos las suyas

Hers

el suyo la suya los suyos las suyas
Yours (formal) el suyo la suya los suyos

las suyas

You all’s (formal) el suyo la suya los suyos

las suyas

Theirs el suyo la suya los suyos

las suyas

Ours el nuestro la nuestra los nuestros

las nuestras

You all’s (informal) el vuestro la vuestra los vuestros

las vuestras

Here are some examples of how to use the possessive pronouns in Spanish. As you can see, the possessive pronouns in Spanish matches the gender and number of the word that it is replacing.

I drink from my cup. – Tomo de mi vaso.

I drink from mine.Tomo del mío.

We return to our house. – Volvemos a nuestra casa.

We return to ours. – Volvemos a la nuestra.

You (informal) eat at his restaurantComes en su restaurante

You (informal) eat at his. – Comes en el suyo.

Formal and Informal “You”: Which Possessive Pronouns in Spanish to Use?

All of the charts include a lot of “you” variations – you informal, you formal, you all informal and you all formal.

This is because in Spanish, there are two levels of formality when addressing someone, as well as singular and plural. Once you learn a bit about these variations, it’s easy to know the difference and when it is appropriate to say tu casa or su casa.

How are “tu” and “su” used in Spanish:

  • The singular informal is used when talking to a friend or someone you are familiar with. So you can say to your best friend: vámonos a tu casa – “let’s go to your house.”
  • The singular formal is used with a stranger or in a professional setting. For example, a waiter will show you to su mesa – “your (formal) table” since he is serving a customer.

These same formality guidelines apply to the plural informal and the plural formal, which are used when addressing more than one person. It is important to note, however, that the plural informal is mainly used in Spain, whereas in Latin America it is more common to use the plural formal to address any group no matter the formality level. It’s a cultural thing!

possessive pronouns in spanish: when to use formal and informal "you"

For more information about the “you” variations, also known as the second person, the LingoDeer app has tons of information and practice!

The Ambiguous “suyo”

After reviewing all of the charts with the possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns in Spanish, you may have seen that there is a lot of repetition.

The possessive for you (formal), his, her, their, and you all (formal) is the same!

Singular Plural
His su sus
Her su sus
Your (formal) su  sus
Their su sus
You all’s (formal) su sus

On one hand, this is great for Spanish learners like you because there are less words to study. On the other hand, how will you know which is which? Su casa can mean your house, his house, her house, their house, you all’s house…

One way to know the difference is based on context. If a conversation is about his classes, then each su/sus/suyo/suya is about him. And when a host is welcoming you and your family and says mi casa es su casa, the su is for all of you!

Another way that Spanish speakers clarify ambiguity in the possessive is with de + person/s possessing. This structure is equivalent to apostrophe “s” in English and literally means “of + person/s,” which allows you to use names as well as pronouns! To demonstrate, below are some examples. Note that there are two ways to translate this structure into English and both have been included.

With names:

Marco’s homework / The homework of Marco – La tarea de Marco

Paula’s house / The house of Paula – La casa de Paula

Sherry and José’s daughter / The daughter of Sherry and José – La hija de Sherry y José

With pronouns:

Their work / The work of them – El trabajo de ellos

Your (formal) time / The time of you – El tiempo de usted

Her book / The book of her – El libro de ella

possessive pronoun in spanish: your (formal) time/the time of you - el tiempo de usted

The Possessive Neuter Form in Spanish

There may come a time when you want to refer to something general, and don’t have a word for the possessive pronoun to match gender and number to. In English we would say “what’s mine is yours” or “that country wants what is ours” and are referring to all possessions. In Spanish, the following formula is used when speaking generally about non-specific possessions: Lo + singular masculine pronoun. Here are some sentences that use this formula.

We have to protect what is ours. – Tenemos que proteger lo nuestro.

I like what is mine. – Me gusta lo mío.

Melisa eats what is hers. – Melisa come lo suyo.

Summary: Possessive Pronouns in Spanish

In this article, we learned that the possessive is used to describe what belongs to who.

  • Possessive adjectives replace the article and go before the word being described, as in tomo de mi vaso – “I drink from my cup”
  • Possessive pronouns replace the word, as in tomo del mío – “I drink from mine.” 

Most of the possessive adjectives like mi and su are gender-neutral and don’t need to be changed to match the gender of the word, however, they still must match the number and become mis and sus if they are describing something plural. 

In contrast, a possessive pronouns in Spanish has an article (el, la, los, las) in front of it unless the sentence uses ser – “to be.” In addition, all of these pronouns need to account for gender and number.

The possessive is pretty straight forward, but some topics arose that you may not be familiar with. As you continue your Spanish learning journey, things that seem complicated like the formal and informal “you”, the third person like su and suyo being the same, and gender and number agreement will become easy. The best way to learn a language is to be motivated and practice and LingoDeer is with you every step of the way!

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