We were looking at ‘possessives’ last month and we haven’t quite finished with them yet. To be more specific, we went through Possessive Adjectives and this is what we found out that they look like:
My – mi, mis
Your (familiar singular) tu, tus
His/her/its/your (formal) – su, sus
Our – nuestro, nuestra, nuestros, nuestras
Your (familiar plural) – vuestro, vuestra, vuestros, vuestras
Their/your (formal) – su, sus
You may or may not realize that we have not yet translated the word for ‘mine’ or ‘yours’ which are also possessives. These words are in fact Possessive Pronouns, not Possessive Adjectives and I think this statement is going to require some more explanation.
We saw that we can say, for example ‘This is my book’, in which case the word ‘my’ describes the book as belonging to me, so is therefore an adjective. However, I could also say ‘This book is mine’. We cannot say ‘This is mine book’ and neither can we say ‘This book is my’, so it is clear that the words ‘my’ and ‘mine’ perform different functions. The word ‘mine’ can be used to replace ‘book’, for example in the sentence ‘It is mine’ (i.e. ‘It is my book’) and therefore is called a Possessive Pronoun.
Here are the Possessive Pronouns in English and Spanish:
Mine – mío, mía, míos, mías
Yours – tuyo, tuya, tuyos, tuyas
His, hers, its, yours (formal) – suyo, suya, suyos, suyas
Ours – nuestro, nuestra, nuestros, nuestras
Yours (familiar plura) – vuestro, vuestra, vuestros, vuestras
Theirs, yours (formal) – suyo, suya, suyos, suyas
If you run your eye over these lists you will see that there are some overlaps between the two forms in both English and Spanish. English generally adds an ‘s’ to the Possessive Adjective to make the pronoun, except in ‘his’ and ‘its’ which already have an ‘s’ in the adjective form, whilst all the forms of ‘nuestro’ and ‘vuestro’ are the same as adjectives and pronouns in Spanish. This is why it’s very hard to translate these words singly without seeing them or hearing them in the context of a full sentence.
You might find the following a good way of remembering exactly how we use Possessive Pronouns. When you listen to small children fighting over a toy you may well hear: “¡Es mío!” “No, es mío”, “No, es mío” and after a lot of pulling and tugging, one of them bites the other one, and the other one screams.
Jane Cronin’s “Step by Step Spanish” articles are available as e-books at www.janecronin.eu where you can also obtain Jane’s “Step by Step Internet Spanish” course.