Italian Possessive Adjectives: A Simple Guide

What Are Possessive Adjectives in Italian?

The possessive adjectives are those words that translate from the English: “my, your, her, his, our, their”. They denote ownership between two objects.

For example,

  • La mia cassa → my house
  • Il suo cane → his dog
  • Il nostro lavoro → our job 

In Italian, a possessive adjective in always used before a noun and preceded by a definite article, as in the examples given above. Because they are adjectives, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to modify them according to the gender and number of the noun they are preceding. 

For example, the English possessive adjective ‘my’ has four possibile translations in Italian.

MioMy (singular masculine)Il mio libro
MiaMy (singular feminine)La mia casa
MieiMy (plural masculine)I miei amici
MieMy (plural feminine)Le mie amiche

Complete Italian Possessive Adjectives Chart

PersonSingular (Masculine)Singular (Feminine)Plural (Masculine)Plural (Feminine)
1st Person (io)mio (my)mia (my)miei (my)mie (my)
2nd Person (tu)tuo (your)tua (your)tuoi (your)tue (your)
3rd Person (lui/lei)suo (his/her)sua (his/her)suoi (his/her)sue (his/her)
1st Person (noi)nostro (our)nostra (our)nostri (our)nostre (our)
2nd Person (voi)vostro (your)vostra (your)vostri (your)vostre (your)
3rd Person (loro)loro (their)loro (their)loro (their)loro (their)
Italian Possessive Adjectives Chart

Italian vs. English 

Italian and English possessive adjectives are not always used in the same way. Let’s delve into the differences in usage.

AspectItalianEnglish
Use of ArticlesItalian possessive adjectives are always accompanied by articles (except in some cases).English possessive adjectives are never used with articles.
ExampleLa mia borsa
Il nostro libro
La sua ragazza
Il suo gatto
My bag
Our book
His girlfriend
Her cat
His/Her AgreementItalian possessive adjectives must agree in gender and number with the owned object, not the owner.English possessive adjectives agree with the owner, not the owned object.
ExampleIl suo cane *
Il suo amico
*
His or her dog*
His or her friend
*
*In Italian, when using possessive adjectives, the adjective agrees with the gender of the things it refers to, not the gender of the owner. Since the words ‘cane’ and ‘amico’ in the above examples are masculine nouns in Italian, the possessive adjective will also be masculine, regardless of the gender of the owner.

The Italian Possessive Adjectives With Family Members 

The possessive adjectives must always be preceded by an article, as was previously mentioned, with one major exception. 

The use of possessive adjectives with family members.

The article is omitted when referring to family members in the singular (such as madre, padre, sorella, zio, cugino, etc.). No wonder, this is one of the most recurring mistakes Italian learners make.

Examples,

Mia madre (la mia madre)My mother
Mia moglie (la mia moglie)My wife
Mio marito(il mio marito)My husband
Mio padre (il mio padre)My father
Mia sorella (la mia sorella)My sister
Mio fratello (il mio fratello)My brother
Mio zio (il mio zio)My uncle
Mio cugino (il mio cugino)My cousin
Mio nonno (il mio nonno)My grandfather
Mia nonna (il mia nonna)My grandmother
Mio cognato (il mio cognato)My brother-in-law

Nevertheless, the article is always used:

#1 When referring to more than one relative

  • Le mie sorelle – my sisters 
  • I suoi fratelli – her/his brothers 
  • I miei cugini – my cousins 
  • I nostri zii – our uncles
  • I loro nonni – their grandparents 

#2 When an adjective is used to describe the relative

  • La mia amata madre – my beloved mother
  • Il mio caro padre – my dear father
  • Il mio carissimo zio – my beloved uncle

3# With the possessive adjective loro:

  • La loro madre – their mother
  • Il loro padre – their father
  • Le loro sorelle – their sisters

Remember that the possessive “loro” is always the same and that the article before it determines the gender and number.

  • Il loro amico – their friend (m.)
  • La loro amica – their friend (f.)
  • I loro amici  – their friends 

Interesting uses of the possessive adjectives 

(If you’re a beginner or intermediate Italian learner, you can skip this for now)

The Italian possessive adjective is always placed before the noun. However, in some cases, when it follows the noun, it is used to emphasize or stress the emotional meaning of the sentence.

  • Mamma mia!
  • Questa è casa mia! – 

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

  • I miei – My parents
  • I tuoi – Your parents
  • Alla nostra! – Cheers

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 / Whose bag is this? It’s mine
  • Di chi è questa casa? E’ sua / Whose house is this? It’s hers

Also note that in Italian, the possessive adjectives and pronouns have the same identical form. Italian does not make the difference between “my” and “mine” (mio/a/i/e) or “our” and “ours” (nostro/a/i/e).

 For example,

  • It’s mine = è mio
  • It’s hers = suo
  • It’s our = è nostro
  • It’s theirs = è loro

About the Author

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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Ciao, I'm Serena!

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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