Spanish Vocabulary

Spanish Grammar Lesson
on the topic of Possession

English-speakers learning Spanish often assume that Spanish functions more or less exactly like English, except with different words.  Therefore, many beginners will express the thought,

 

“I am my mother’s daughter”

as,

“Yo soy mi madre’s hija.”

NO!!

There is no apostrophe-s construction in Spanish.

 There is no ’s construction in Spanish.

 

As we have seen and will continue to see, Spanish is a totally different system of expression.  While it has certain similarities and common roots with English, it is important to keep English grammar in your English brain.

 

So how would one express “I am my mother’s daughter” in Spanish?  Well, if you had to say it in English without using ’s, how would you do it? 

 

“I am the daughter of my mother.”

 

It sounds awkward in English, but the original meaning of the sentence remains, and no erroneous or non-existent structures have been inserted into the sentence.  Can you translate that sentence word-for-word into Spanish?

 

“Yo soy la hija de mi madre.”

YES!!

 

“Hija de mi madre” is the ONLY correct way to express “My mother’s daughter” in Spanish.  Questions 1-5 at the end of this lesson will help you practice this point.

 

 

Possessive Adjectives

 

Possessive adjectives exist to avoid repetition in speaking of the things that belong to people.  The Spanish and English systems are very similar with regard to possessive adjectives—in fact, unlike most adjectives in Spanish, possessive adjectives come before the noun, just as they do in English!

 

The possessive adjectives are:

            Español                                   English

 

          mi                                            my

 

          tu (notice: no accent mark!)      your (familiar)

 

          nuestro                                     our

 

          su                                             his, her, its, their,

                                                          your (formal and plural)

           

 

Notice that su has multiple applications, whereas the other three possessive adjectives have only one meaning each.  The meaning is usually apparent in the context of the sentence: if the whole paragraph is about someone’s brother, it’s assumed that su means his.  It isn’t always obvious, though, and in order to be more specific, these structures are also used instead of su:

 

            de él                                         his (or its, masculine noun)

          de ella                                       her (or its, feminine noun)

          de ellos                                     their

          de usted                                   your (formal)

          de ustedes                                your (plural)

 

Observe:

 

¿Dónde está su libro?  (Whose book?)

¿Dónde está el libro de ella?  (Oh, her book.)

 

Except for coming before the noun, possessive adjectives follow the general rules for noun-adjective agreement:  mi, tu and su have singular and plural forms, and nuestro has singular and plural, masculine and feminine forms.

 

 

Possessive Pronouns

 

Possessive pronouns are used both in Spanish and in English to replace the possessive adjective and noun—instead of, “This is her pencil” say, “This is hers.”  The possessive pronouns are:

 

            Español                                   English

          el mío**                                   mine

 

          el tuyo                                      yours (familiar)

 

          el nuestro                                  ours

 

          el suyo                                     his, hers, its, theirs,

                                                          yours (formal and plural)

 

** Just like Spanish nouns, Spanish pronouns can be singular or plural, masculine or feminine.  For example, mine may be translated as el mío, la mía, los míos, or las mías, depending on whether the noun to which it refers is masculine, feminine, singular or plural.  Observe:

 

Su novio es menor que ella; el mío es mayor que yo.

Esta computadora no es de la escuela, es mía.

(Definite articles are omitted after ser.)

Tus padres son jóvenes, los míos no.

Sus hermanas son más altas que las mías.

 

All four possessive pronouns function this way.

 

 

Practice

Translate these phrases to Spanish:

1)      David’s brother

2)      the man’s wife

3)      the children’s parents

4)      Susan’s son

5)      the dog’s tail

 

Fill in the blanks with the possessive adjective or pronoun indicated in parentheses:

 

6)      (My) ______________ hijos van a jugar fútbol esta noche.

7)      ¿De verás?  ¿Cuantos años tienen (your)______________ hijos?

8)      Tienen nueve y once, igual que (yours) _________________.

9)      Creo que (our) ____________________ niños tienen los mismos maestros.

10)  ¿Verdad?  ¿Cómo se llaman (their) ______________________ maestros?

 

 

Answers:

 

1)      el hermano de David                             6)  Mis

2)      la esposa del hombre                            7)  tus or sus (Ud. form not required)

3)      los padres de los niños                          8)  los tuyos or los suyos

4)      el hijo de Susan                                    9)  nuestros

5)      la cola del perro                                  10)  sus

 


 
 

If you don't already have a copy of LSLC Nivel Uno,
here's the link:

Learning Spanish Like Crazy Nivel Uno

And here's the link to LSLC Nivel Dos:

Learning Spanish Like Crazy Nivel Dos