One of the first things we always learn when we are studying a new language is how to describe and express possession. In my experience with students from all over the world, it is pretty difficult to learn in Spanish. I remember many classes where I had to explain or correct it and many meetings with my colleagues to share strategies and exercises to help our students learn the rules and start using them in their daily conversations.
The reason of why expressing possession in Spanish takes time and practice is that one word can be used for 5 different subjects and one of those words is SU. For example, if you hear this sentence: “su pelo es rojo” and you try to translate it into English, you may get confused. SU can be: his, her, it’s, your or their. So that, you will need not only to have a dictionary but Aldo to pay attention to the context in order to understand that sentence.
Describing possession in Spanish requires attention to different details. First, you need to think about the person, so if you want to describe possession talking about yourself, you have two options: MI and MIS. Then, you should check if you are talking about one object, two objects or more. In case, you are talking about youR house, you can use MI. For example: “Mi casa es grande” (my house is big) In case, you are talking about two or more objects, you will need MIS. For example: “Mis zapatos están sucios” (my shoes are dirty). If you want to describe possession of a third person, you need to pay attention to another detail. For example, when you read the sentence: “su carro es negro” (his/her/its/your/their car is black), you need to check the context where this sentence was said so you can get who owns the object and completely understand the sentence.
But that’s not it. Once, you are able to use possessive adjectives, you find other cases where you also need to pay attention to the person who owns the object and to the gender and number of the object. For example, when you want to say it’s mine, you find mine can be: mío, mía, míos, and mías. To choose one, you need to check if the object you are talking about is considered male or female and if it is singular or plural. Again, when you refer to a third person, you have one option for 5 different subjects. Suyo, suya, suyos and suyas are the translation of his, hers, yours, theirs and its. For example, if you read this sentence: “Tu camiseta y la de Lorena son similares pero la tuya es azul y la suya es amarilla”. Suya means hers.
An important tip: When you are expressing possession in Spanish, you have two options: ¿de quién es? and ¿de quién son?. The first is used for one object and the second for two or more.
Audio to practice
You can now practice possessions with SU so you can improve your Spanish. Let’s go!
For other related topic, check our article Expressing Dislike in Spanish: When “No me gusta” is Not Enough.
Written by Mari, profesora at Whee.