1. The key differences between English and Italian
In English, possessives are never used with articles. Instead, the Italian Possessive Adjectives are always accompanied by articles (except for some cases I will touch upon below).
The possessive adjectives and the articles preceding them agree in terms of gender and number with the nouns they refer to.
- la mia borsa – my bag
- il mio libro – my book
- la sua ragazza – his girfriend
- il suo lavoro – her job
Another key difference between English and Italian is that the Italian possessive adjectives must agree with the noun they specify and not with the noun that possesses the thing.
Let’s assume Maria has a dog, we might refer to it as
In English, her dog
her refers to Maria, thus is feminine.
in Italian we would say, il suo cane
suo refers to the dog, hence is masculine
And yet, there is another difference: the Italian possessive adjectives and pronouns are identical in form. Italian does not make the difference between my and mine (mio/a/i/e)or our and ours (nostro/a/i/e).
2. Italian Possessives and family names
When it comes to family names in the singular number (e.g., madre, padre, sorella, zio, etc..), the article is omitted.
- Mia madre – my mother
- Mio padre – my father
- Mia sorella – my sister
- Mio fratello – my brother
- Mio zio -my uncle
Nevertheless, the article is always used:
– when referring to more than one relative:
- le mie sorelle – my sisters
- i miei fratelli – my brothers
- i miei zii – my uncles
– when an adjective accompanies the singular relative
- la mia amata madre – my beloved mother
- il mio caro padre – my dear father
- il mio carissimo zio -my beloved uncle
– and with the possessive loro
- la loro madre – their mother
- il loro padre – their father
- le loro sorelle – their sisters
3. Position of the Italian Possessive Adjectives
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!
4. Italian possessives in idioms
In certain idiomatic expressions, the Italian possessives are used as nouns.
- I miei – My parentes
- I tuoi –Your parents
- Alla nostra!– Cheers
5.Italian Possessive Pronouns
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)
Serena is a proud polyglot, teacher and language expert. After learning 8+ foreign languages and working long hours a job she was not born for, she decided she urged a significant life change. She is now combining what she loves doing with what she is good at, helping people to learn Italian online. She has been sharing her love for Italy and the Bella Lingua across the world for the last four years. Her goal is helping enthusiastic humans to transform Italian Language Learning into a habit in their lives.