Possessive Pronouns vs Possessive Adjectives in Spanish

As their names suggest, both Spanish possessive adjectives and Spanish possessive pronouns are used to express possession. Although these sets of words share the same purpose, they’re not interchangeable. For that reason, a lot of people wonder what’s the difference between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives in Spanish. 

Spanish possessive adjectives always precede the noun or possession. These words have a plural form, but not all of them have a feminine form. Possessive pronouns also indicate possession, but they replace the possession (the noun). They all have a plural and feminine form. 

When learning Spanish, knowing when to use possessive pronouns or possessive adjectives can be challenging for some learners. As a result, in the following sections, we’ll discuss the difference between these words and we’ll provide you with the structures that you need to use in order to apply these words correctly into your conversations. 

Additionally, we’ll include some examples of how to use these words in different sentences. By the end of this, you will be able to tell the difference between possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns. 

What’s the difference between possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns in Spanish?

In Spanish, possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns are used to talk about someone’s possessions. Despite this similarity, these words work with different elements in a Spanish sentence and follow different rules. As a result, you won’t be able to use them interchangeably.

graphic with spanish possessive adjectives and spanish possessive pronouns

Like any other Spanish adjective, possessive adjectives need to work with a noun. In this case, these adjectives express that a certain object (noun) belongs to someone. Possessive adjectives are always placed before the noun. 

Dejé mi mochila en tu carro
I left my backpack in your car

¿Estos son tus hermanos?
Are these your brothers?

On the other hand, possessive pronouns also have the function to express possession, but they are also used to replace the noun (possession). In other words, possessive pronouns don’t precede a noun because they’re taking its place. Additionally, these words have masculine, plural and feminine forms. 

Deja esa cartera en la mesa, no es tuya
Leave that wallet on the table, it’s not yours

Creo que estos libros son míos, señorita 
I think these books are mine, miss

Now, let’s go deeper into when and how to use possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives in Spanish. 

When & How to Use Possessive Pronouns in Spanish

In Spanish, all pronouns have a main purpose: replace a noun. On top of this main function, Spanish possessive pronouns are also used to express possession. When using possessive pronouns, you’re replacing the possession that you’re talking about. In order to do this, depending on your sentence, you will need to choose the correct possessive pronoun:

PersonSpanish Possessive PronounEnglish Possessive Pronoun
YoMío / Míos / Mía/ MíasMine 
Tuyo / Tuyos / Tuya / TuyasYours
Él / EllaSuyo / Suyos / Suya / SuyasHis / Hers
NosotrosNuestro / Nuestros / Nuestra / NuestrasOurs
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasSuyo / Suyos / Suya / SuyasYours 

When using a possessive pronoun, you need to make sure to:

  • Choose the correct pronoun for the owner (person)
  • Match the possessive pronoun with the possession’s gender and number, never with the owner. 

Here are some examples: 

[Determiner] +[noun] + [ser conjugated] +  [possessive pronoun] 

Oye, esos lentes son míos
Hey, those sunglasses are mine

Christian, ¿el carro azul es tuyo
Christian, is the blue car yours

Señora, creo que esta cartera es suya
Man, I think this wallet is yours

This past phrase structure, allows you to introduce the object or possession in your sentence. However, if you think this information is already clear given the context, you can use the following phrase structure:

[Ser conjugated] + [possessive pronoun]

Tú: Y, ¿estos chocolates? ¿Por qué están en mi mesa?You: And these chocolates? Why are they on my table? 
Tu amigo: Son tuyos, te los trajo una señora.Your friends: They’re yours, a lady brought them for you. 
Tú: ¿De quién son estas plumas?You: Whose pens are these?
Tus amigos: Son nuestras.Your friends: They are ours. 

Take Note: Notice that in this situation, we use the verb ser to express possession. Additionally, before using pronouns, make sure that the context is clear so people understand what you’re talking about. 

When & How to Use Possessive Adjectives in Spanish

In general, adjectives have the purpose to qualify or give further characteristics of the noun. In this case, possessive pronouns are qualifying the name by expressing possession. These words accompany the noun and are placed before it. 

Most of these possessive adjectives don’t have a feminine form, but you will still need to make sure to use plural adjectives if the possession you’re talking about is in plural form. 

PersonSpanish Possessive AdjectiveEnglish Possessive Adjective
YoMi / MisMy
Tu / Tus Your
Él / EllaSu / Sus His / Her
NosotrosNuestro / Nuestros / Nuestra / NuestraOur
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasSu / SusYour 

Here is a basic structure that you can follow. Notice that sometimes the position of the verb is quite flexible in Spanish. Just make sure that the possessive adjective is placed before the noun. 

[Possessive adjective] + [noun]

Mi mochila es azul
My backpack is blue

Mateo es nuestro hijo
Mateo is our son

¿Puedes lavar tus trastes?
Can you wash your dishes?

¿Sabes si esta es nuestra clase?
Do you know if this is our class?

Niñas, vayan por sus cosas porque ya nos vamos
Girls, go for your things because we’re leaving now

Take Note: Unlike possessive pronouns, possessive adjectives don’t always need to work with the verb ser to indicate possession. As long as they’re in front of a noun, possessive adjectives will always indicate possession no matter the verb you use. 

Wrapping Up

For many Spanish learners, knowing when to use possessive adjectives instead of possessive pronouns can be a challenging task. As a result, in this article, we discussed when to use each one of these sets of words. 

Here are some key points that you always need to keep in mind:

Possessive Pronouns

  • Indicate possession
  • Replace a noun.
  • Have masculine, plural and feminine forms.
  • Always work with sentences that have the verb ser.
  • In order to replace the noun (possession) properly, possessive pronouns need to match this noun’s gender and either singular or plural form.

Possessive Adjectives

  • Indicate possession
  • Accompany nouns and they are placed before them. 
  • Can work with ser and other verbs
  • They have plural and masculine forms, only nosotros has a feminine form. 
  • They match the noun’s gender and number. 

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of how to use these words in Spanish.

Related Resources:

Spanish Possessive Pronouns Practice

Spanish Possessive Adjectives Practice

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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