In Italian possessive adjectives and pronouns have the same form. However they are used differently. Indeed, while possessive adjectives are used with the nouns they refer to, possessive pronouns replace nouns.
Examples: La tua macchina è bella (your car is beautiful)
La tua macchina è più bella della mia (your car is more beautiful than mine)
As you can see from the examples above, the Italian possessive adjective tua is placed before the noun it refers to, macchina, while the Italian possessive pronoun mia replaces the noun macchina.
Possessive adjectives are generally preceded by a definite article, and they always agree in genre and number with the noun they refer to.
• La loro casa sta andando a fuoco (their house is burning);
• I nostri vicini stanno facendo una festa (our neighbours are having a party);
• Le sue scarpe costano 1500 € (her/his shoes cost 1500 €);
• La mia macchina è rossa (my car is red);
• Il vostro amico sembra piuttosto arrabbiato (your friend looks rather angry);
• Le loro figlie vanno a scuola insieme (their daughters are classmates);
• I tuoi gatti hanno fame (your cats are angry);
Italian possessive adjectives are not preceded by an article when:
• they go before singular names expressing relationships – i.e. padre, madre, figlio, figlia, marito, moglie, sorella, fratello, zio, zia, cognato, cognata etc, except figliolo, figliola, babbo – without any other adjective between them.
Mia sorella ha 50 anni (My sister is 50 years old);
Le mie sorelle sono gemelle (My sisters are twins);
La mia figliola è un avvocato (My daughter is a lawyer);
• They are already preceded by a preposition: i.e. Quello è il cappotto di mia madre (That is my mother’s coat).
However, just remember thay loro always requires an article – il loro padre, i loro zii, etc;
Possessive adjectives generally precede the nouns they refer to – example 1. However, they can also follow them if the speaker wants to express some emphasis – example 2.
1- Questo è il mio libro di matematica -> this is my math book;
2- Questo libro di matematica è mio -> this math book is mine;
As previously said, Italian possessive pronouns have the same form as Italian possessive adjectives – see table above.
Possessive pronouns are always preceded by an article or a preposition.
• Questi sono i tuoi regali, e quelli i suoi (these are your gifts and those are his/hers);
• Abbiamo già perlato del tuo matrimonio. Adesso parliamo del mio! (we have already talked about your wedding. Now let’s talk about mine!).
I hope to have helped you to learn Italian possessive adjectives and pronouns. If you have any question, feel free to post it below.
If you need to master or revise basic Italian grammar, have a look at my book Sos Italian grammar A1-A2.