21 Possessive adjectives

In Brief:

The use of these adjectives is similar between English and Spanish, with the exception that Spanish has plural forms, but English doesn’t.

Possessive Adjectives

Singular Plural In English
mi mis my
tu tus your (fam.)
su sus his
su sus her
su sus your (formal)
su sus its
su sus their
nuestro(a) nuestros(as) our
vuestro(a) vuestros(as) your (fam; Spain)

Possessive adjectives appear immediately before a noun and they agree in number with the noun. If the noun that follows is singular, use the singular form of the possessive adjective. If the noun is plural, then a plural possessive adjective must be used:

Singular and Plural Possessive Adjectives

Singular In English Plural In English
mi libro my book mis libros my books
tu clase your class tus clases your classes
su amigo her friend sus amigos her friends

The “nuestro” and “vuestro” forms will agree with the noun that follows in both number (sg / pl) and gender (m / f). It doesn’t matter who is speaking, or to whom one is speaking; what controls the use of the masculine and feminine forms is whether the noun itself is masculine or feminine:

Nuestro and vuestro agreement

Singular In English Plural In English Nouns
nuestro libro our book nuestros libros our books libro = m
nuestra clase our class nuestras clases our classes clase = f
vuestro libro your book vuestros libros your books libro = m
vuestra clase your class vuestras clases your classes clase = f

OJO: “vuestro” (your) and its variances are used in Spain only. In the Spanish of the Americas, “su/sus” (your) is used.

“Su” and “sus” have multiple meanings

Singular Plural Possible meanings
su sus his
your (formal)

When the context is clear there generally isn’t any ambiguity. For example, if we have been talking about my friend Lorena’s class schedule and I say “her English class is at nine”, I could simply say “su clase de inglés es a las nueve” and there wouldn’t be any confusion—you would know that “su refers to Lorena. But without any real context the same phrase “su clase de inglés es a las nueve” could have several meanings: “his-her-your (formal)-their…class”. If you want to avoid possible confusion, use the following structure:

To clarify ambiguity of “su/sus”:

To clarify ambiguity of “su/sus”

article: the + noun + of + pronoun
el, la, los, las + X + de + él, la, Ud., ellos, ellas, Uds.

Clarifying “su/sus” examples

If context is clear: To avoid any ambiguity: English meaning is the same for both:
su libro el libro de ella her book
sus libros los libros de ella her books
su profesor el profesor de Ud. your professor
sus profesores los profesores de Ud. your professors
su clase la clase de ellos their class
sus clases las clases de ellos their classes

OJO: In English, we use an apostrophe “s” to show possession (John’s class), but apostrophes do not exist in Spanish. Spanish does the following instead:

Equivalent of ’s

article: the + noun + of + person
la + clase + de + John = John’s class

More examples:

Los estudiantes de la profesora The professor’s students
Las classes de Susana Susana’s classes
El libro de mi amigo My friend’s book

A final note: when talking directly to one person and addressing him or her in the Ud. form, you could use “su/sus” to express “your”. But notice that the same forms in Spanish are used if you want to express “your” and are addressing a group of people. Again, the singular/plural agreement occurs between “su” and the noun that follows it:

“Su” and “sus” meaning “your” examples:

su clase your class talking to 1 person- Ud.
sus clases your classes talking to 1 person- Ud.
su clase your class talking to a group- Uds.
(the group has just 1 class)
sus clases your classes talking to a group- Uds.
(the group has 2 or more)


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First Year Spanish 1 Copyright © 2019 by Paul Eckhardt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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