5 things you need to know about Possessives in Italian

1. Key differences with English

In English possessives are never used with articles. However, in Italian, they are always accompanied with articles (except for some cases discussed below).

The possessive agrees in gender and number with the nouns they are proceeding

  • la mia borsa
  • il mio libro
  • la sua ragazza
  • il suo lavoro

2. When are the articles omitted?

The articles are omitted when referring to family members when they are singular

  • Mia madre
  • Mio padre
  • Mia sorella
  • Mio fratello
  • Mio zio

Nevertheless, the article is always used:

–  when referring to more than one relative:

  • le mie sorelle
  • i miei fratelli
  • i miei zii

–  when an adjective accompanies the singular relative

  • la mia amata madre
  • il mio caro padre
  • il mio carissimo zio

– and with the possessive loro

  • la loro madre
  • il loro padre
  • le loro sorelle

3. The possessive adjective is always placed before the nouns. However, in some cases follows the noun and it is meant to emphasize or stress the emotional meaning of the sentence.

  • Mamma mia!
  • Questa è casa mia!

4. In certain idiomatic expressions, possessives are used as nouns

  • I miei (My parentes)
  • I tuoi (Your parents)
  • Alla nostra! (Cheers)

5. Finally, when the possessive is used as a pronoun (not attached to a noun, but replacing a noun) the articles are often omitted.

  • Di chi è questa borsa? E’ mia!
  • Di chi è questa casa? E’ sua!