Own It! How to Use Italian Possessive Pronouns Like They’re Yours
The cat is hers and the dogs are his.
The car is ours.
No, it’s theirs.
These are all examples of sentences that include possessive pronouns.
It seems that you can’t get through the day without using them!
Staking claim to what’s yours is easy once you have your Italian possessive pronouns dialed in.
If you have a possession—whether it’s a car, a house, a plane ticket or a dog—a possessive pronoun is key to expressing that to others.
Mine, mine, mine!
And guess what, if you have a wife, a husband, kids, parents or a friend, you can also lovingly claim them with a possessive pronoun.
In Italian, the possessive pronoun can take many forms depending on what the “possession” is and who “owns” it.
So, let’s get right into it!
How to Use Italian Possessive Pronouns Like They’re Yours
Possessive pronouns in any language denote ownership.
Instead of repeating the owned item over and over again, you can replace it with a possessive pronoun.
The purse isn’t my purse, it’s her purse. → The purse isn’t mine, it’s hers.
There are only seven possessive pronouns in English: mine, yours, ours, theirs, his, hers and its.
In Italian, there are 24 possessive pronouns.
This is because Italian possessive pronouns must agree in gender and quantity with the noun they’re replacing.
Italian nouns, as in other romance languages, have genders. Therefore, in order to use the correct possessive pronoun, you need to know the gender and quantity of the noun it’s replacing.
|English||Italian Singular/Masculine||Italian Singular/Feminine||Italian Plural/Masculine||Italian Plural/Feminine|
|Mine||il mio||la mia||i miei||le mie|
|Yours||il tuo||la tua||i tuoi||le tue|
|His/Hers/Yours||il suo||la sua||i suoi||le sue|
|Ours||il nostro||la nostra||i nostri||le nostre|
|Yours||il vostro||la vostra||i vostri||le vostre|
|Theirs||il loro||la loro||i loro||le loro|
Gender and Quantity
In order to choose the correct possessive pronoun, you must determine whether the noun or nouns that you want to replace are singular feminine, singular masculine, plural feminine or plural masculine.
If you want to replace the Italian noun borsa (purse) in the sentence below, you need to use a singular feminine possessive pronoun.
La borsa non è la mia borsa, è la sua borsa. (The purse isn’t my purse, it’s her purse.) → Non è la mia, è la sua. (It isn’t mine, it’s hers.)
The possessive pronouns above are mia and sua because they’re replacing a singular feminine noun, borsa (purse).
If you’re referring to one book, libro (book), you’d replace it with:
Non è il mio, è il suo. (It isn’t mine, it’s hers.)
You use mio and suo because you’re replacing a singular masculine noun, libro (book).
If you’re referring to more than one purse, borse (purses) in Italian, you’d say:
Non sono le mie, sono le sue. (They’re not mine, they’re hers.)
You use mie and sue because you’re replacing a plural feminine noun, borse (purses).
If you’re referring to more than one book, libri (books), in Italian you’d say:
Non sono i miei, sono i suoi. (They’re not mine, they’re hers.)
You say miei and suoi because you’re replacing a plural masculine noun, libri (books).
Definite Article Agreement
In Italian, possessive pronouns are preceded by definite articles: i, il, i, la, le, gli, lo, l’.
The article must always agree in gender and quantity with the noun.
Before selecting the correct possessive pronoun and article in Italian, you must ask yourself:
What’s the gender of the noun or nouns that I’m replacing?
Is the noun singular or plural?
Using our examples from above, take notice of the definite articles that come before each possessive pronoun:
Non è la mia, è la sua. (It isn’t mine, it’s hers.)
Non sono i miei, sono i suoi. (They’re not mine, they’re hers.)
The Three Forms of Yours
Don’t forget that there are three ways to say “you” in Italian.
You use tu for speaking to friends and close family.
You use Lei when speaking to superiors.
You use voi when speaking to more than one person.
If you need to say, “this is my book, that is yours” in Italian, you need to first consider your audience.
If it’s a friend, you can say:
Questo è il mio libro, quello è il tuo. (This is my book, that is yours.)
You use tuo because the audience is one friend and the book is masculine and singular.
However, if the audience is your boss, you should say:
Questo è il mio libro, quello è il Suo. (This is my book, that is yours.)
Suo is the possessive pronoun for Lei, and is used in formal situations.
Lastly, if you’re speaking to a group of people about their collective book, you’d say:
Questo è il mio libro, quello è il vostro. (This is my book, that is yours.)
You use the plural possessive pronoun vostro because you’re speaking to more than one person.
Possessive Pronouns Versus Possessive Adjectives
It’s also important to note the difference between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives.
A possessive pronoun replaces a noun. A possessive adjective modifies a noun.
È la mia borsa. (It’s my purse.)
Here, mia is a possessive adjective because it’s modifying the noun purse.
However, in the phrase, “it’s mine,” you remove the noun entirely and replace it with a pronoun.
È la mia. (It’s mine.)
Here mia is a possessive pronoun because it replaces the noun borsa (purse).
In Italian, the word may be the same for the possessive pronoun and the possessive adjective, but the contextual use is different.
His and Hers: Common Mistakes
Selecting the correct possessive pronoun for “his” and “hers” in Italian can be a bit confusing, especially for native English speakers.
We select the third person possessive pronoun based on the gender of the owner in English.
In Italian, we select the third person possessive pronoun based on the gender of the object that’s owned.
For example, if you’re referring to a car owned by a man and you want to say “it’s his” in Italian, you’d say:
È la sua.
You use the singular feminine possessive pronoun, sua because the gender for the word macchina (car), is feminine.
On the other hand, if you’re referring to a book owned by a woman and you want to say “it’s hers,” in Italian you’d say:
È il suo.
You use the singular masculine pronoun, suo because the gender for the word libro (book) is masculine.
Just remember, the gender for the possessive pronoun in Italian doesn’t reflect the gender of the possessor but rather the possession.
How to Practice Italian Possessive Pronouns
With 24 possessive pronouns in Italian, practice is a must!
Possessive pronouns require habitual daily use in order for them to become second nature.
Below are some practice methods that will help you make Italian possessive pronouns a natural part of your everyday Italian speech.
Play a Game
To help review the possessive pronouns in the chart above, try this game:
1. First, find an old magazine.
2. Cut out pictures of different objects. For example—one car, a pile of lemons, a flock of geese, a pillow, a television and a pair of shoes.
3. Place the object cut outs face down in one pile.
4. Now cut out pictures of different people. For example, a husband and wife, a man and a group of children.
5. Place these cut-outs face down in a second pile.
6. One at a time, select a cut out from each pile and practice forming a phrase with the appropriate possessive pronoun.
If you selected a flock of geese and a man, then you’d want to say, “they are his,” in Italian.
The correct answer would be sono le sue.
You use the plural feminine possessive pronoun because the word for geese, oche is feminine in Italian.
The possessor and possession combinations may be absurd, but that’s part of the fun!
You can also try practicing with classmates and adding “you” and “I” into the mix.
Listen to Music
A good old fashion love song is often full of possessive pronouns!
Probably because most of the singers are possessed (by love).
My heart is hers!
An effective way to use music as a language learning and practicing resource is to utilize both the written lyrics and the audio at the same time.
Two lovely Italian love songs that you can use to practice listening for and identifying the possessive pronouns are “Tua per Sempre” and “Sei Bellissima.”
Remember, in Italian, the main key to using possessive pronouns is to make sure that the possessive pronoun and article are in agreement with the gender and quantity of the noun that you’re replacing.
Now all you have to do is just practice often and own it!