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,
am my mother’s daughter”
“Yo soy mi madre’s hija.”
There is no apostrophe-s
construction in Spanish.
There is no
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?
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
“Yo soy la hija de mi madre.”
“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 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:
tu (notice: no
accent mark!) your (familiar)
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,
ella her (or its,
usted your (formal)
ustedes your (plural)
¿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 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:
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.
Su novio es
menor que ella; el mío es mayor que yo.
no es de la escuela, es mía.
articles are omitted after ser.)
Tus padres son
jóvenes, los míos no.
Sus hermanas son más altas que
possessive pronouns function this way.
phrases to Spanish:
the man’s wife
the children’s parents
the dog’s tail
Fill in the blanks with the possessive
adjective or pronoun indicated in parentheses:
(My) ______________ hijos van a jugar fútbol esta noche.
¿De verás? ¿Cuantos años tienen (your)______________
Tienen nueve y once, igual que (yours) _________________.
Creo que (our) ____________________ niños tienen los
¿Verdad? ¿Cómo se llaman (their) ______________________
el hermano de David 6) Mis
la esposa del hombre 7) tus
or sus (Ud. form not required)
los padres de los niños
8) los tuyos or los suyos
el hijo de Susan 9)
la cola del perro 10)
If you don't
already have a copy of LSLC Nivel Uno,
here's the link:
Learning Spanish Like Crazy Nivel Uno
the link to LSLC Nivel Dos:
Learning Spanish Like Crazy Nivel Dos