Saturday, May 17, 2014


Hello Everybody! This post will discuss some basic topics about Portuguese possessive pronouns.


We use possessive pronouns to show ownership. They indicate who is the owner of something. Note in example bellow that "meu" describes the noun "casaco", demonstrating its ownership:

"Meu casaco é preto." or "O meu casaco é preto."
[My coat is black.]

In Portuguese the possessive pronouns have feminine, masculine, singular and plural forms. See the following table:

English Masculine Feminine
My / mine Meu / Meus Minha / Minhas
Your / yours Seu / Seu Sua / Suas
His / Her/ hers / its Dele Dela
Our / ours Nosso / Nossos Nossa / Nossas
Their / theirs Deles Delas

Usually those pronouns agree in gender and number with the thing possessed, not with the person that possesses. We can see this in following examples:

"Meu carro é vermelho." or "O meu carro é vermelho." [My car is red.]
- The noun "carro" is a masculine and singular word, so you need to use "meu".

"Minhas meias estão limpas." or "As minhas meias estão limpas." [My socks are clean.]
- The noun "meias" is a feminine and plural word, so you need to use "minhas"

See more examples:

Meu pai [My father]
Minha mãe [My mother]
Meus tios [My uncles]
Minhas tias [My aunts]

Teu irmão [Your brother]
Tua irmã [Your sister]
Teus irmãos [Your brothers]
Tuas irmãs [Your sisters]

Nosso filho [our son]
Nossa filha [our daughter]
Nossos filhos [our sons]
Nossas filhas [our daughters]

A casa é minha. [The house is mine]
Os carros são meus. [The cars are mine]

The possessive pronouns "seu", "seus", "sua", "suas" can be used to refer to "your (yours)" , "his", "her (hers)" and "their (theirs)" causing ambiguities, because you don’t know if the pronoun is referring to you or to other person.

In some cases to avoid ambiguity of the noun’s ownership, we can use "dele", "deles", "dela", "delas".

dele [his]
dela [her/hers]
deles [their/theirs - masculine]
delas [their/theirs - feminine]

These pronouns agree in gender and number with the person who owns the thing, because these possessive pronouns always refer to the person and not to the object. Example:

Ele não encontrou seu amigo.
[He did not meet your/his friend]

This sentence has an ambiguity because you don’t know if the person is referring to your or his friend. If the person is referring to his friend is better to say:

Ele não encontrou o amigo dele.
[He did not meet his friend.]

Note that “dele” agrees in gender and number with “ele” and comes after noun. More examples:

Seu pai [Your father]
Pai dele [His father]
Pai dela [Her father]
Pai deles [Their father]
Pai delas [Their father]

You could see in the examples that possessive pronouns can be used without article because in Brazil this is possible (note: in Portugal this can be unacceptable). But in some cases possessive pronouns are used without the noun they’re referring to. In these cases, they must to be accompanied by definite articles even in Brasil (except with verb SER). Let's see some examples:

Meu carro é novo. O seu é velho.
[My car is new. Yours is old.]

In the first sentence "meu" accompanies and describe the object "carro". In the second sentence observe that "seu" is masculine, replaces the word "carro" and it is used along with the definite article "o". See more examples:

Sua casa é verde. A minha é vermelha.
[Your house is green. Mine is red.]

Nossa casa é branca. A dele é azul.
[Our house is white. His is blue.]

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