If you've learned the long form of the possessive adjectives, you already know the possessive pronouns of Spanish. In fact, some grammarians classify the long-form possessive adjectives as pronouns, even though they are used to describe nouns.
What Are Possessive Pronouns?
Possessive pronouns are the equivalent of the English pronouns "mine," "yours," "his," "hers," "theirs" and "its," but they aren't used in exactly the same way in Spanish as they are in English. As the name suggests, possessive pronouns are used in the place of nouns rather than to describe nouns as adjectives do.
Here are the possessive pronouns of Spanish with simple examples of their use:
mío, mía, míos, mías - mine
- Tu madre y la mía no pueden cantar. (Your mother and mine can't sing.)
- No me gustan los coches rojos. El mío es verde. (I don't like red cars. Mine is green.)
- Cuido de tus mascotas como si fueran las mías. (I take care of your pets as if there were mine.)
tuyo, tuya, tuyos, tuyas - yours (singular informal)
- Este libro no es mío. Es tuyo. (This book isn't mine. It's yours.)
- ¿Dónde está mi mochila? La tuya está aquí. (Where is my backpack? Yours is here.)
suyo, suya, suyos, suyas - his, hers, yours (singular formal or plural formal), its, theirs
- Mis calcetines son rojos. Los suyos son negros. (My socks are red. His/hers/yours/theirs are black.)
- Amo a mi esposa. Él no ama a la suya. (I love my wife. He doesn't love his.)
nuestro, nuestra, nuestros, nuestras - ours
- Este coche es nuestro. (This car is ours.)
- ¿Te gusta tu casa? No me gusta la nuestra. (Do you like your house? I don't like ours.)
vuestro, vuestra, vuestros, vuestras - yours (plural informal; infrequently used in Latin America)
- Nuestra casa es muy vieja. ¿Y la vuestra? (Our house is very old. And yours?)
- No me gustan los coches de vuestros competidores. Prefiero los vuestros. (I don't like your competitors' cars. I prefer yours.)
As you can see from the examples, possessive pronouns must match the noun they represent in both number and gender, just as do the long-form possessive adjectives. They do not necessarily match the number or gender of the person or thing that has possession.
Spanish Possessive Pronouns
- The possessive pronouns of Spanish take the same form as the long form of the possessive adjectives, namely mío, tuyo, suyo, nuestro, and vuestro along with their plural and feminine counterparts.
- Except when followed by forms of ser, a verb meaning "to be," the possessive pronouns are preceded by el, la, lo, los, or las.
- Because suyo is ambiguous, it is sometimes replaced by phrases such as de él or de ellas.
Definite Articles With Possessive Pronouns
Note that unlike the equivalent pronouns in English, the Spanish possessive pronouns are usually preceded by a definite article (el, la, los or las), the equivalent of "the." The article is usually dispensed with when the possessive pronoun follows a form of the verb ser, such as son or es, as in the examples, although it is sometimes retained for emphasis.
Suyo and the related forms can be ambiguous since they can mean "his," "hers," "yours," "theirs," or "its." When context doesn't make its meaning clear, the possessive pronoun can be omitted and replaced by a prepositional phrase such as de él (instead of "his") or de ellos (instead of "theirs").
- No es mi coche. Es de ella. (It's not my car. It's hers.)
- ¿Dónde están mis zapatos? Los de él están aquí. (Where are my shoes? His are here.)
- En nuestras listas hay luchadores; en las de ellos, cobardes. (On our lists there are fighters; on theirs, cowards.)
Note that you wouldn't normally use the "de + object pronoun" to refer to those that aren't included in the meaning of su. So, for example, you wouldn't normally substitute de mí for mío.
Using the Possessive Neuter Form
The single, masculine form of the pronouns can also be treated as neuter and thus be preceded by the definite article lo. Even though singular, the pronoun can stand for more than one object. The neuter form is used when no specific object is being referred to.
- No toques lo mío. (Don't touch what is mine. Don't touch my things.)
- Lo mío es importante. (What is mine is important. My things are important.)
- Es intolerable que nuestro líderes no defiendan lo nuestro. (It is intolerable that our leaders don't defend what is ours. It is intolerable that our leaders don't defend our traditions.)