LearningPortuguese

Possessive Pronouns

We use possessive pronouns when identifying a person or thing as being the owner of a noun. For example, my; his; your; its; their. In Portuguese, things are complicated a bit by the fact that both the possessor and the thing possessed have a gender. Some possessive pronouns reflect the gender and quantity of the possessor, and others relate to the thing possessed.

Possessive Pronouns which reflect the gender and quantity of the thing possessed

English

Portuguese

Notes

my/mine (singular possession)

o meu

a minha

The definite article (‘o’; ‘a’; ‘os’; ‘as’) is not required for ‘mine’ and is not always required for ‘my’ (especially in Brazil) – the same principle applies to all of these possessive pronouns.

my/mine (plural possession)

os meus

as minhas

 

our/ours (singular possession)

o nosso

a nossa

 

our/ours (plural possession)

os nossos

as nossas

 

your/yours (singular possession)

o teu
a tua

o vosso

a vossa

o seu

a sua

‘seu’ and ‘sua’ are sometimes avoided in speech because they can easily be confused between the second and third person (the same form is used for both) – ‘dele’ and ‘dela’ are not so ambiguous (see below). In the written language, it is usually more obvious who is being spoken about, so they can be used without a problem. ‘Vosso’ and ‘vossa’ refer to multiple possessors of a single possession.

your/yours (plural possession)

os teus
as tuas
os vossos
as vossas
os seus

as suas

 

their/theirs (singular possession)

o seu

a sua

 

their/theirs (plural possession)

os seus
as suas

 

Possessive Pronouns which reflect the gender of the possessor

English

Portuguese

Notes

our (of us/ours)

da gente

‘nosso’ is more common.

your (of you/yours)

do senhor

da senhora

literally ‘of the gentleman’ or ‘of the lady’.

his (of him)

dele

literally ‘of him’, but equivalent of the English word ‘his’.

her/hers (of her)

dela

 

their (of them)

deles

delas

 

There are some occasions where we use possessive pronouns in English but the Portuguese don’t. For example, when referring to parts of the body: Whereas we would say ‘my arm’, or ‘my head’ the Portuguese would say ‘the arm’ (‘o braço’), or ‘the head’ (‘a cabeça’). The same is true of items of clothing (‘my coat’ becomes ‘the coat’). The possessive pronoun could still be used if you wanted to emphasize whose item you were referring to (eg. ‘my arm, not yours’).

The possessive pronouns that reflect the gender of the possessor (‘dele’, ‘dela’, ‘deles’, ‘delas’) are often used to avoid confusion over who is being referred to because using the words ‘seu’; ‘sua’; ‘seus’; or ‘suas’ (‘your’, ‘his’, ‘her’, or ‘their’) can be ambiguous if the identity of the possessor is not obvious from the context.

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