Spanish Possessive Adjectives (Long Form)

Spanish for Beginners

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Possessive adjectives in Spanish, like those of English, are a way of indicating who owns or is in possession of something. Their use is straightforward, although they, like other adjectives, must match the nouns they modify in both number (singular or plural) and gender.

Unlike English, Spanish has two forms of possessive adjectives, a short form that is used before nouns, and a long form that is used after nouns. Here we focus on the long-form possessive adjectives with examples of usage and possible translations of each example:

  • mío, mía, míos, mías — my, of mine — Son libros míos. (They are my books. They are books of mine.)
  • tuyo, tuya, tuyos, tuyas — your (singular familiar), of yours — Prefiero la casa tuya. (I prefer your house. I prefer the house of yours.) These forms can be used even in areas where vos is common, such as Argentina and parts of Central America.
  • suyo, suya, suyos, suyas — your (singular or plural formal), its, his, her, their, of yours, of his, of hers, of theirs — Voy a la oficina suya. (I am going to his/her/your/their office. I am going to the office of his/hers/yours/theirs.)
  • nuestro, nuestra, nuestros, nuestras — our, of ours — Es un coche nuestro. (It is our car. It is a car of ours.)
  • vuestro, vuestra, vuestros, vuestras — your (plural familiar), of yours — ¿Dónde están los hijos vuestros? (Where are your children? Where are the children of yours?)

As you may have noticed, the short form and long forms of nuestro and vuestro and related pronouns are identical. They differ only as to whether they are used before or after the noun.

In terms of number and gender, changed forms are with the nouns they modify, not with the person(s) who own or possess the object. Thus, a masculine object uses a masculine modifier regardless of whether it is owned by a male or female.

  • Es un amigo tuyo. (He is a friend of yours.)
  • Es una amiga tuya. (She is a friend of yours.)
  • Son unos amigos tuyos. (They are some friends of yours.)
  • Son unas amigas tuyas. (They are some friends of yours.)

If you've already studied possessive pronouns, you may have noticed that they are identical with the possessive adjectives listed above. In fact, some grammarians consider the possessive adjectives to actually be pronouns.

Regional Variations in Use of Possessive Adjectives

Suyo and the related forms (such as suyas) tend to be used in opposite ways in Spain and Latin America:

  • In Spain, unless the context is clear otherwise, speakers tend to assume that suyo refers to possession by someone other than the person spoken to — in other words, suyo tends to function as a third-person adjective. If you need to refer to something possessed by the person spoken to, you can use de usted or de ustedes.
  • In Latin America, on the other hand, speakers assume that suyo refers to something possessed by the person spoken to. If you need to refer to something possessed by a third party, you can use de él (of his), de ella (of hers), or de ellos/ellas (of theirs).

Also, in Latin America nuestro (and related forms such as nuestras) coming after a noun is uncommon for saying "of ours." It is more common to use de nosotros or de nosotras.

Long or Short Possessive Adjectives?

Generally, there is no significant difference in meaning between the long and short forms possessive adjectives. Most often, you'd use the long form as the equivalent of "of mine," "of yours," etc., in English. The short form is more common, and in some cases, the long form can be somewhat awkward or have a slight literary flavor.