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Possessives
1. SAYING "A's* _____ B (the B of A)**"  (practice this structure)
Structure Examples
el/la/los/las B de A
  • el coche de Juan Juan's car
  • las mochilas de Ana Ana's backpacks
  • el padre de los chicos the boys' father

*Spanish does not use an apostrophe in the possessive or any other structure; where English offers two possible structures--John's family or the family of John--Spanish offers only the equivalent of the latter**.

In other words, phrases like Juan's amigo (Juan's friend) are not Spanish!  

  • Ellipsis: The noun referrring to the possessed thing(s)* can be omitted when repetition is not necessary:

    El libro* de Pedro (Pedro's book) está aquí. ¿Dónde está el ... de Ana (Ana's)?

  • Whose? = ¿De quién? or ¿De quiénes? (if plural answer is expected):

    ¿De quién es esta computadora? Es de la profesora.  Whose computer is this? It's the professor's.

2. UNSTRESSED POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES: my, your, etc. _____1   (practice)
  Singular Plural
1st person mi(s)2 my nuestro/a(s)3 our
2nd person tu(s) your (informal) vuestro/a(s)3 your (informal)
3rd person su(s)4 his, her, your (formal) su(s)4 their, your (formal)
 
  1. The unstressed possessives precede the noun they modify:
    • mi casa, tu padre, nuestro hijo
  2. All agree with the following noun in number (singular or plural); the number of possessors does not affect this:
    • mi hermana→mis hermanas
  3. Nuestro, vuestro agree with the noun in gender as well:
    • nuestros amigosnuestras amigas; vuestro tío→vuestra tía
  4. Su(s) is highly ambiguous because it has many possible referents; it does not show any distinction between his, her, your (formal), and their. When clarification is necessary, the structure with de + noun or pronoun is used; as with all these adjectives, the plural form is used only if the following noun is plural:
    • Juana tiene un coche y Ana también tiene uno. Su (?) coche (→el coche de Juana) es verde.
    • Carlos tiene dos hermanas y Ana tiene tres. No conozco a sus (?) hermanas (las hermanas de él).
    • los chicos y su padre (their father); los chicos y sus padres (their parents)
 
3. STRESSED POSSESSIVES: (of) mine, (of) yours, etc.
  Singular Plural
1st person mío/a(s) (of) mine nuestro/a(s) (of) ours
2nd person tuyo/a(s) (of) yours (informal) vuestro/a(s) (of) yours (informal)
3rd person suyo/a(s) (of) his, hers, yours (formal) suyo/a(s) (of) theirs, yours (formal)
 
  • When used as adjectives, these possessives are less common and more emphatic than the unstressed adjectives.
  • They follow the noun they modify, which is often preceded by an indefinite article. All agree with the noun in number and gender:
    • un amigo mío a friend of mine; unas cosas nuestras some things of ours
  • They are used as pronouns to avoid repeition of the noun; they are generally preceded by a definite article:
    • Tu libro está en la mesa; el mío está en el escritorio.
    • Me gusta mucho la teoría de ese investigador; es más lógico que la nuestra.
  • The article is generally omitted after ser:
    • Este coche es mío; no es suyo.
  • The referent of suyo/a(s) can be ambiguous (his, hers, yours (formal), theirs) if the context does not make it clear. It is clarified with the structure el/la/los/las de + noun or pronoun referring to possessors:
    • Ana y Raquel tienen coches; el suyo (?) (el de Ana) es verde.
    • Los chicos y las chicas toman clases; las suyas (?) (→las de ellas) son más difíciles que las suyas(?) (→las de ellos).
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