Janet Long has taught post-secondary Spanish and English for over 15 years. They have a master's degrees in English from Southeast Missouri State University and a master's degree in Spanish literature from the University of Missouri Columbia.
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Have you ever been in the baggage claim area at an airport after a flight? Everyone is looking for his or her suitcase. You watch carefully as each new suitcase appears in the luggage carousel and think, 'mine is pink.' In Spanish, you would think, 'la mía es rosa.' In Spanish, words like 'mine' or 'mía' are possessive pronouns; we use them to say 'who' something belongs to.
Possessive Pronoun Forms
In Spanish, there are only five different possessive pronouns, but each pronoun has different forms for masculine and feminine nouns and for singular and plural nouns. Let's now look at these different forms of the Spanish possessive pronouns. First, we'll look at the pronoun itself. Then we'll look at the singular masculine and feminine versions. Then we'll explore the pronunciation and then we'll do the same for the plural versions.
|Pronoun||Singular M/F||Pronunciation||Plural M/F||Pronunciation|
|Mine||mío / mía||mee-oh / mee-ah||míos / mías||mee-ohs / mee-ahs|
|Yours (s)||tuyo / tuya||too-yoh / too-yah||tuyos / tuyas||too-yohs / too-yahs|
|His / Hers / Yours (s/pl) / Theirs||suyo / suya||soo-yoh / soo-yah||suyos / suyas||soo-yohs / soo-yahs|
|Ours||nuestro / nuestra||nway-stroh / nway-strah||nuestros / nuestras||nway-strohs / nway-strahs|
|Yours (pl)||vuestro / vuestra||vway-stroh / vway-strah||vuestros / vuestras||vway-strohs / vway-strahs|
Here, you can see that there are three different ways to say 'yours' in Spanish: tuyo, suyo or vuestro. This is because Spanish uses a familiar and formal form of 'you.' You use the familiar form for people you know well, like family and friends: tuyo (singular) and vuestro (plural). For strangers or to show respect, use the formal form, suyo, for both singular and plural references.
So, for a quick recap, here's how to choose the correct possessive pronoun form of 'yours:'
- For a person you know, you say tuyo
- For a person you do not know, you say suyo
- For a person you show respect to, you say suyo
- For a group of people you know, you say vuestro
- For a group of people you don't know, you say suyo
- For a group of people you show respect to, you say suyo
Choosing the Correct Pronoun
The pronoun that you use depends on the noun that it describes. First, decide if the noun is singular or plural. For instance, at the airport, were you looking for one suitcase, una maleta, or many suitcases, unas maletas? For singular nouns, use the forms without an '-s' on the end, and for plural nouns, add an '-s' to the end of the pronouns.
Also, every noun and pronoun in Spanish is either masculine or feminine. For the possessive pronouns, the masculine forms end in -o (singular) or -os (plural), and the feminine forms end in -a (singular) or -as (plural).
In our suitcase example, the word maleta is feminine, so you need to choose a feminine pronoun. If you have one red suitcase, you would say, la mía es roja (mine is red). If you have several red suitcases, you would say, las mías son rojas (mine are red).
Use of the Pronouns
Like we saw in the examples, la mía es roja and las mías son rojas, we can use the possessive pronouns as the subject of a sentence. Place the pronoun at the start of the sentence, and follow it with the él / ella (he / she) or ellos / ellas (they) form of the verb. You use the él / ella form of the verb when the pronoun is singular and the ellos / ellas form when the pronoun is plural.
Here are a few examples where the subject of the sentence is a possessive pronoun.
- 'His is blue' is translated as La suya es azul.
- 'Theirs are black' is translated as Las suyas son negras.
- 'Ours are white' is translated as Las nuestras son blancas.
You can also use possessive pronouns as the object of a sentence after the verb. First, decide which form of the pronoun you need and put it after the verb. So, if you want to say, 'the red suitcases are mine,' you would say, las maletas rojas son mías.
Take a look at these examples, where the possessive pronoun is the object of the sentence.
- 'The blue one is his' is translated as La azul es suya.
- 'The black ones are theirs' is translated as Las negras son suyas.
- 'The white ones are ours' is translated as Las blancas son nuestras.
In this lesson, you learned that mío, tuyo, suyo, nuestro and vuestro are the possessive pronouns in Spanish, which we use to say 'who' something belongs to. Each one of them has a masculine form ending in -o or -os and a feminine form ending in -a or -as. By adding 's' to the singular forms, you get the plural forms of these words. You can use possessive pronouns as the subject at the beginning of a sentence or as an object after the verb in a sentence.
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