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Possessive adjectives (my / your / its etc.)

First of all, I'll show you a table of the short forms (or weak forms):
short form meaning
mi(s) ... my ...
tu(s) ... your (familiar) ...
su(s) ... his / her / its / your / their ...
nuestro/a(s) ... our ...
vuestro/a(s) ... your (familiar) ...
These words are used IN FRONT of the thing that you are talking about.

What do they mean?

First of all, the (s) means that you put an s at the end if the next word is plural:
mi coche = my car
mis coches = my cars - note that mi and mis mean exactly the same thing - 'my'.

Tu and su act exactly the same way also:
tu casa = your house
tus casas = your houses
tus hermanos altos = your tall brothers
Notice that mi, tu and su don't have feminine forms.
These words only change with the word that they are describing and NOT THE PERSON.

Nuestro and vuestro are the only ones that change with gender. Compare:
Nuestro hermano = Our brother
Nuestros hermanos = Our brothers
Nuestra hermana = Our sister
Nuestras hermanas = Our sisters
Again, this word is changing with the word they describe, regardless of who is talking. Two women, or a group of men would still say "nuestro hermano = our brother"

Su means a lot of things so "su hermano" can mean:
his brother
her brother
its brother
your brother (regardless of whether you are talking to one person or many)
their brother

So how do you avoid confusion?
It is simple, you use the word 'de'. In Spanish, you literally say "the house of Miguel" or "the brother of Montse" or replace it with pronouns (él, ella, usted etc.)
The most likely time you would use this is to replace the word 'su' only if you need to clarify who owns something for example:
Su amigo = his / her / its / your / their friend, but:
El amigo de él = his friend
El amigo de ella = her friend
El amigo de usted = your friend
Or with a name:
El amigo de Miguel = the friend of Miguel
Él es un amigo de mis padres = He is a friend of my parents

Like English, Spanish misses out words because it would be annoying to keep saying an object repeatedly e.g. "This present is not mine, this present is yours" so you would say "this present is not mine, it's yours".
Sus hijos de usted y no los de ella = Your sons and not hers (instead of saying ... y no los hijos de ella)

Notice that these words aren't always used
If it is obvious who owns the object that something is happening to then you just say "she cut the hair for me" instead of "she cut my hair for me" because it is obvious who's hair she cut:
Me cortó el pelo = She cut my hair (literally - she cut from me the hair)
Me dejé la cartera en casa = I've left my wallet at home (literally - I've left the wallet at home)
Necesito quitarme el suéter = I need to take off my jumper (literally - I need to remove from me the jumper)

Or if it is obvious who owns the object (it is optional to say "my / her / their" but you usually don't)
¿Podría darme la mano? = Would you give me your hand? - (literally - Would you give to me the hand?)
Les quitó el abrigo = He took off (helped them off) with their overcoats (literally = He removed from them the overcoat)
It doesn't matter if you did say "les quitó su abrigo". Don't worry about it.

Long forms (or strong forms) - mine, of mine etc.

long form meaning
... mío mine / of mine
... tuyo yours / of yours (familiar)
... suyo his / hers / its / yours / theirs or 'of his / hers'
... nuestro ours / of ours
... vuestro yours (familiar) / of yours
These words are used AFTER the thing that you are talking about and ALL CHANGE IN GENDER AND IN THE PLURAL.

What do they mean?
They translate mine, of mine etc. and they change in gender or in to a plural only with the object and again, NOT WITH THE PERSON TALKING:
un hijo mío = a son of mine (regardless of whether you are male or female)
dos hijos míos = two sons of mine
una hija mía = a daughter of mine
dos hijas mías = two daughters of mine
Esta casa es mía = this house is mine
Estos papeles son suyos = these papers are his / hers / its / yours / theirs
¿De quién es esta cartera? = Who's wallet is this? - this literally translates as "of who is this wallet?". You are using that 'de' word mentioned above. You can say something like "tengo la cartera de Miguel = I have Miguel's wallet" (literally the wallet of Miguel)

When to use "the" - el / la / los / las
Spanish (like English) sometimes misses words out. In English you can say "That's Eric's" instead of "That's Eric's car". Spanish misses out the object in sentences like the following:
el coche mío = the car of mine → el mío = mine
to make sentences like this:
El mío está allí = Mine is there (which is referring to "el coche mío")
La nuestra está rota = Ours is broken (referring to a feminine object)
(Technically, mine, yours etc. is the subject of the sentence but it isn't important to know this)

De las dos chaquetas voy a llevar la mía = Of the two jackets I am going to wear mine (instead of la chaqueta mía - it is obvious to the listner that you are talking about the jacket)
(Technically, mine, yours etc. now is the object of this sentence.)

Also these are used with words like 'of / from / about / by / in' etc. which are technically called 'prepositions'.
Estoy pensando en el tuyo = I'm thinking about yours (referring to something masculine object)
Estoy pensando en la tuya = I'm thinking about yours (referring to something feminine object). For example, the thing could be "una casa tuya = a house of yours".

Also when the object does not literally belong to the person:
Pienso que este asiento debe de ser el suyo = I think that this seat must be yours (instead of saying "Pienso que este asiento debe de ser el asiento suyo")
Don't use the word "the" after "is" or "are" when the person you are talking about owns the object, for example:
Esta cartera es mía = This wallet is mine

Some important points

I want to point out that the short forms are put before the object and the long forms are put after it. Since nuestro and vuestro are used before and after a word, this can cause some confusion. Just to clarify:
nuestro amigo = our friend (used before the object)
un amigo nuestro = a friend of ours (used after the object)
I wish to clarify these words too:
mi = my
me = me, to me, from me
mí = also means 'me' BUT it is used without a verb for example:

es para mí = it is for me
¿Piensas en mí? = Do you think about me?
contra mí = against me
mí mismo = myself (like 'I'm doing it all by myself')
(technically, mí is used with prepositions - words like for, in, by, to, from, underneath, for etc. that relate one object to another)
Again watch out for people writing this word without the accent.

[ENGLISH]Have you found an error or do you want to add more information to these pages?
You can contact me at the bottom of the home page.

[ESPAÑOL] ¿Ha encontrado un error o tiene información adicional?
Puede mandarme un mensaje al final de la página principal

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