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. The more common type is explained in our lesson on short-form possessive adjectives. Following are 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.)
- 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.
Note that the possessive adjectives vary by number and gender. The change is with the nouns they modify, not with the person(s) who own or possess the object.
- 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.
Choice of possessive form: Generally, there is little or no difference in meaning between the long and short forms of the possessive. Most often, you'd use the long form as the equivalent of "of mine," "of yours," etc., in English, although (as in English) they are usually interchangeable in meaning. The short form is more common, and in some cases, the long form can be somewhat awkward or have a slight "literary" flavor, although it is used in informal speech as well.