Everything You Need to Know About Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Learning Spanish can be an uphill battle, especially once you begin to conjugate adjectives and verbs. After progressing past basic sentence structure, you’ll quickly begin using possessive adjectives in Spanish. In this article, we aim to help you strengthen your ability to describe relationships between two objects by answering some of the most common questions, such as ‘what are possessive adjectives in Spanish?’ and how to use them.
What Are Possessive Adjectives in Spanish?
Possessive adjectives in Spanish are words used with a noun to help dictate a relationship between one person or object to another. Most commonly, possessive adjectives show ownership in language. Although they have the same intent as when used in the English language, using possessive adjectives in Spanish works a little differently. They change based on the plurality and gender of the noun being described, which can make it tricky when speaking. Some examples include:
Estoy paseando a mi perro – “I am walking my dog”
Sus padres están de vacaciones - “Her parents are on vacation”
Possessive, as we’ve learned, is a way to describe ownership while an adjective is a type of word that’s used to describe a noun. When used together, they help a speaker, listener, or reader understand who or what possesses something. There are several different possessive adjectives used in language, which we’ll review in more detail below.
|Masculine singular||Feminine singular||Plural|
How to Use Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
You use possessive adjectives in Spanish either before or after the noun to describe a relationship between two objects. Since possessive adjectives in Spanish are often conjugated based on number and gender, it’s important that they match the correct part of the sentence. However, you’re using them to describe a relationship between two objects or people, which can make it difficult. In Spanish, all adjectives need to be conjugated based on the word they are directly describing. In this case, that would be the object or person that is possessed, not the noun describing ownership. For example:
Vi a tus padres en un restaurante – “I saw your parents at a restaurant”
Dame sus libros – “Give me her books”
As you can see, the possessive adjectives in Spanish are not used to describe the speaker, but rather the object. Always make sure you differentiate nouns in a sentence to use the proper adjectives.
What are the Different Types of Possessive Adjectives?
There are eight different types of possessive adjectives in Spanish. However, each type of possessive adjective can be conjugated into four different forms: singular, plural, masculine, and feminine. This makes it seem like there are more to learn, but once you master the stem word and basic conjugation rules, you’ll be able to use possessive adjectives in Spanish like a native. The stem of a Spanish word is the simplest form, which, in this instance, is the masculine singular possessive adjective.
The two primary types of possessive adjectives in Spanish are short-form and long-form. These are also known as unstressed possessive adjectives and stressed possessive adjectives, respectfully.
Unstressed Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Unstressed possessive adjectives in Spanish go before the noun they describe and are both the most commonly used and shortest type of possessive adjective. They’re also known as adjetivos posesivos átonos or adjetivos posesivos débiles. It’s likely that you’ve already used these short-form possessive adjectives while speaking or learning Spanish without knowing it. The stem of each different unstressed possessive adjective in Spanish includes mi, tu, su, nuestro, vuestro, and su.
These are conjugated based on the rule of agreement, meaning they match the noun in both number and gender. However, since unstressed possessive adjectives in Spanish are usually so short, the only two that change with gender are nuestro/a/os/as and vuestro/a/os/as. A few examples of unstressed possessive adjectives in Spanish are as follows:
- Déjame ver tu bicicleta – “Let me see your bicycle”
- Dame su tarea – “Give me their homework”
For a more comprehensive understanding of unstressed possessive adjectives in Spanish, consider the following chart:
Stressed Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Stressed possessive adjectives in Spanish shift the attention of the noun being described to the adjective itself. They’re less common and go after the noun that they describe. When using stressed possessive adjectives in a sentence, the object of possession isn’t as important as to whom it belongs to. They’re also known as adjetivos posesivos tónicos or adjetivos posesivoes fuertes. In English these are referred to as long-form possessive adjectives. The stem of each different stressed possessive adjective in Spanish includes mío, tuyo, suyo, nuestro, vuestro, and suyo.
These are also conjugated based on the rule of agreement, but in this case, it’s based on to whom it belongs to. In English, this would incorporate descriptors like “of mine” or “of ours.” A few examples of stressed possessive adjectives in Spanish are as follows:
- Ella es una amiga nuestra – “She’s a friend of ours” or “She’s our friend”.
- La novio suya está llegando – “The boyfriend of hers is coming” or “Her boyfriend is coming”
Singular Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Singular possessive adjectives in Spanish are used to describe a singular noun. This includes the masculine and feminine version of both unstressed and stressed possessive adjectives in Spanish. Unstressed possessive adjectives include mi, tu, su, nuestro/a, vuestro/a, and su. Stressed possessive adjectives include mío/a, tuyo/a, suyo/a, neustro/a, vuestro/a, and suyo/a.
Examples of Singular Possessive Adjectives Examples
Some examples of singular possessive adjectives in Spanish include the following. See if you can tell the difference between unstressed and stressed usages!
- Rompí nuestra mesa – “I broke our table”
- Me gusta mi hermana – “I like my sister”
- El hijo tuyo canta muy bien – “The son of yours sings very well” or “Your son sings very well”
- El problema suyo es muy pequeño – “The problem of his is very small” or “His problem is very small”
Plural Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Plural possessive adjectives in Spanish are used to describe a plural noun. This includes both the masculine and feminine versions of unstressed and stressed possessive adjectives in Spanish. Unstressed possessive adjectives include mis, tus, sus, nuestros/as, vuestros/as, and sus. Stressed possessive adjectives include míos/as, tuyos/as, suyos/as, nuestros/as, vuestros/as, and suyos/as.
Examples of Plural Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
Some examples of plural possessive adjectives in Spanish include the following. See if you can tell the difference between unstressed and stressed usages!
- Fernanda no sabe si sus amigos vendrán – “Fernanda doesn’t know if her friends will come”
- Nuestros padres no se fueron – “Our parents didn’t’ go”
- Me gustan esos zapatos tuyos – “I like those shoes of yours” or “I like your shoes”
- Ellas son amigas míos – “They are friends of mine” or “They are my friends”
It’s also possible to indicate a relationship between two objects in a subject using possessive pronouns. This includes the preposition de, which acts similarly to the English use of an apostrophe “s”. However, these follow different grammatical rules and can get a bit complicated. That’s why Tandem has created a unique language learning experience to help foster understanding and improve fluency. Our community includes millions of learners who speak languages across the world. All you need to do is sign up, match with a native speaker of your target language, and start communicating. Tandem is a community where languages can be exchanged, taught, and understood. When you’re trying to navigate the complexities of possessive adjectives in Spanish, or any other language, connecting with a like-minded native speaker is a great option. To join our community and work on your fluency, sign up for Tandem today.
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