When (And How) To Use Possessive Adjectives In Spanish

  • Jada Lòpez
    Written byJada Lòpez
    Jada LòpezSpanish teacher, translator
    🎓 B.A., Translation and Interpreting English and Spanish, Universidad de Granada
    🎓 M.A., Formación de Profesores de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), Universidad Pablo de Olavide

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When (And How) To Use Possessive Adjectives In Spanish

Possessive adjectives are Spanish words that help us identify who a noun belongs to.

It declares a person’s ownership of an item or adjective.

If you’re studying Spanish, you may know that these words can take two forms. These two forms include shorter forms and longer forms.

I’ll expand on these two forms in more detail.

Short Spanish possessive adjectives

A short Spanish possessive adjective is a small word that tells the listener who a Spanish noun belongs to.

This type of word and phrase must include a second component after it - the name of the noun that belongs to the person.

Short Spanish possessive adjectives don’t make much sense if you don’t name the item they modify.

It would be a bit like saying, “That’s my…” or “It’s my…” without completing the sentence 😅.

What are the short possessive adjectives in Spanish?

Searching for examples of these words in Spanish? Look at this table to find the words you need and their translations.

Possessive adjective in EnglishSpanish masculine singularSpanish feminine singularSpanish masculine pluralSpanish feminine plural

When to use short possessive adjectives in Spanish

Short possessive adjectives are ideal for different topics of conversation, such as talking about family members or relationships.

Let’s consider a few examples of when you would use them.

Talking about family members

If you’re talking to someone about your brother or sister, you might start the conversation with a short possessive adjective.

For instance, to say, “My brother is older than me”, you would use the word mi, which is a first-person singular word:

Listen to audio

Mi hermano es mayor que yo.

My brother is older than me.

If you want to say, “Our brother is younger than us”, you would use the word nuestro:

Listen to audio

Nuestro hemano es menor que nosotros.

Our brother is younger than us.

Talking about relationships

You may also use these words to talk about relationships 😃.

For example, if you want to refer to someone’s partner, you might start your sentence with the word su:

Listen to audio

Su novio es extrovertido.

Her boyfriend is an extrovert.

In this case, su is the third-person adjective “her”.

However, you can also use the same word when referring to a person who “belongs” to a male:

Listen to audio

Su novia es introvertida.

His girlfriend is an introvert.

Spanish masculine vs feminine singular possessive adjectives

We can see that the difference between masculine and feminine singular forms is most apparent in the first-person plural nuestro/vuestro forms.

The Spanish masculine singular forms of nuestro and vuestro end with the letter o, which helps us identify them as the masculine form.

You’ll notice that the Spanish masculine singular forms of nuestra and vuestra end in the letter a, which helps us identify them as the feminine form.

While these differences may seem obvious, they can help us when using these adjectives with the right nouns.

2 rules for using adjectives in Spanish

A couple of rules exist for using adjectives in Spanish. Let’s consider these rules here.

Masculine/Feminine Nouns and Adjectives

The rules are that if you’re describing the ownership of a masculine noun (which you can identify by looking at the noun’s article), you should use a masculine adjective.

If you’re describing the ownership of a feminine noun, you should use a feminine adjective.

Here are a couple of examples:

Listen to audio

Es nuestra finca.

It's our land.
Listen to audio

Es nuestro vino.

It's our wine.

In our first sentence, we use the feminine singular adjective nuestra because it matches the gender and number of the Spanish noun finca (la finca).

In our second sentence, we use the masculine singular adjective nuestro because it matches the gender and number of the Spanish noun vino (el vino) 🍷.

Masculine/feminine plural nouns and adjectives

When describing the ownership of more than one masculine noun, you’ve got to use the masculine plural adjectives.

However, when describing the ownership of more than one feminine noun, you’ve got to use the feminine plural adjectives.

Here are two examples:

Listen to audio

Los bolsos son vuestros.

The bags are yours.
Listen to audio

Las casas son vuestras.

The houses are yours.

In our first sentence, we use the masculine plural adjective vuestros because there is more than one masculine noun (los bolsos).

In our second sentence, we use the feminine plural adjective vuestras because there is more than one feminine noun (las casas).

Long Spanish possessive adjectives

A long Spanish possessive adjective emphasises the noun’s ownership.

You’ll have no problems using these words by remembering a key rule: They should match the number and gender of the noun you’re discussing.

This rule means that no matter if you’re female and discussing a masculine object like a handbag el bolso, you’d still use a masculine possessive adjective.

Curious to know some examples of these words in Spanish 🤔? Take a quick look at this table to find out:

Possessive adjective in EnglishSpanish masculine singularSpanish feminine singularSpanish masculine pluralSpanish feminine plural
His/Hers/ TheirsSuyoSuyaSuyosSuyas

When to use long Spanish possessive adjectives

Long possessive Spanish adjectives suit different conversational topics.

If you want to indicate a closer relationship or express possession in formal contexts, you will use these words.

Here are some examples of ways to use them in sentences or when speaking with others.

Indicating a closer relationship

To describe your relationship with someone close to you, you may use long Spanish adjectives such as mío or mía:

Listen to audio

El hijo mío es se porta muy bien.

My son behaves very well.
Listen to audio

La hija mía se porta perfectamente.

My daughter behaves perfectly.

These examples emphasise the relationship between the mother and daughter or son.

It’s ideal for contexts in which you compare your relationship with your children with other parents’ relationships with theirs.

Expressing possession in formal contexts

You may prefix your sentence with these words in Spanish when expressing possession in formal contexts:

Listen to audio

El éxito es suyo. Pero todos ustedes trabajaron mucho.

The success is yours. But you all worked a lot.
Listen to audio

¿De quién es este libro? ¿Es suyo?

Who does this book belong to? Is it yours?

You’ll notice that the mode of address suyo features in these sentences.

Suyo is a formal possessive adjective that frames these examples in a formal context.

You could just as easily use these examples with the work tuyo - this would give an informal tone to the sentence.

Adjectives that show possession in Spanish are an integral part of the language, so try to remember the short and long ones.

Looking for additional Spanish grammar tips? Check out my guide on common Spanish adjectives.

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