Spanish Possessive Pronouns
First, a quick refresher: Pronouns are those words which are substituted to refer to nouns. It’s easy to confuse Spanish possessive pronouns with long form possessive adjectives, as the forms are the same, but by remembering that we are referring to nouns here we can avoid mistakes. It’s the difference between “my” (adjective), and “mine” (pronoun). You can say “it’s mine”, but not “it’s my”. Similarly in Spanish, “it’s mine” would be translated as “es mío”, or “es el mío”.
The form of these pronouns is the same as the long form possessive adjectives (the ones which go after the noun – for example “el coche mío”, my car), but they are often preceded by the definite article (for example, “este coche es el mío”, this car is mine). As with the adjectives, possessive pronouns have to agree with the noun they refer to in both number and gender, which makes for a lot of variations:
|Mine||Singular||(El) mío||(La) mía|
|Plural||(Los) míos||(Las) mías|
|Yours (from tú)||Singular||(El) tuyo||(La) tuya|
|Plural||(Los) tuyos||(Las) tuyas|
|Yours (from usted, el, ella)||Singular||(El) suyo||(La) suya|
|Plural||(Los) suyos||(Las) suyas|
|Ours||Singular||(El) nuestro||(La) nuestra|
|Plural||(Los) nuestros||(Las) nuestras|
|Yours (from vosotros)||Singular||(El) vuestro||(La) vuestra|
|Plural||(Los) vuestros||(Las) vuestras|
¿Cuál es tu coche? Ese es mío → Which is your car? That one is mine
¿Cómo van los partidos? Los nuestros van muy bien → How are the games going? Ours are going very well
Los libros son vuestros → The books are yours
No traje mi chaqueta. ¿Me puedes prestar la tuya? → I didn´t bring my jacket. Can you lend me yours?
Use of the definite article
Look at the examples above. The definite article (el, la, los, las) is used in all cases except for two. What pattern is there in those examples where it is not used?
While the definite article is not generally used with “ser”, it can be added for emphasis:
¿Este es mi dinero? No, no, no, ¡es el mío! Is this my money? No, no, no, it’s mine!
Use of neuter “lo”
When referring to abstract concepts, you can use “lo” as the definite article. This also means that there is no noun involved. The translation into English can be a little difficult, but one useful general translation could be “that business of”. As is often the case, the context of how this is used will be important in determining the meaning. “Lo” is a great way of saying all sorts of interesting things in Spanish:
No es lo mío → It’s not my thing/it’s not my area/it’s not my bag
Lo tuyo es interesante → Your business/what you are doing is interesting
¿Oíste lo de Liz? → Did you hear that thing about/that business about Liz?