Possessive adjectives indicate ownership of something, for example:

Quella è la mia pizza! - That’s my pizza!

In English, they correspond to my, your, his, her, its, our, their. In Italian, they are preceded by definite articles such as il, i, la, le. They have to agree in gender and number with the noun they refer to, not the person who possesses them. For example, vacanza (holiday) is feminine singular so if you wanted to say ‘my holiday’ you would use the feminine singular for my and so the sentence would be la mia vacanza. This is the case whether it’s a man or woman talking about their holiday.

 

See some examples here using masculine and feminine singular and plural nouns and possessives:

 

La mia televisione / le mie televisioni - My television / my televisions

Il tuo libro / i tuoi libri - Your book / your books

La sua camicia / le sue camicie - His or her shirt / his or her shirts

Il nostro gelato / i nostri gelati - Our ice cream / Our ice creams

La loro macchina / le loro macchine - Their car / their cars

 

Here is a table that lists all the possessive adjectives:

 

Possessive

Masculine Singular

Feminine Singular

Masculine Plural

Feminine Plural

 

my

il mio

la mia

i miei

le mie

your (informal)

il tuo

la tua

i tuoi

le tue

your (formal)

il Suo

la Sua

i Suoi

le Sue

his, her, its

il suo

la sua

i suoi

le sue

our

il nostro

la nostra

i nostri

le nostre

your

il vostro

la vostra

i vostri

le vostre

their

il loro

la loro

i loro

le loro

 

There are some exceptions to the rule:

 

Family members

 

You do not need to use the article when speaking about family members in the singular, so:

mia madre (my mother), suo padre (his or her father), tua zia (your aunt), nostro fratello (our brother). 

 

However, you do use the article if speaking about them in the plural:

i miei zii (my aunts and uncles), le vostre sorelle (your (plural) sisters), i tuoi nonni (your grandparents). You also use the article if the noun is accompanied by an adjective, la mia sorella minore (my younger sister), or if the noun is modified such as il tuo cuginetto (your little cousin).

 

Loro is unusual in that you always need a definite article, whether talking about a family member or not e.g. la loro madre (their mother), i loro cugini (their cousins).

 

I miei genitori (my parents) can be shortened to i miei (my parents), i tuoi (your parents), i suoi (his or her parents), so you could say:

 

I miei sono andati in vacanza - My parents went on holiday

I tuoi stanno a casa? - Are your parents at home?

Salutami i tuoi - Say hi to your parents

 

Order

The possessive adjective usually always precedes the noun, but sometimes it doesn't, for example:

 

a casa mia (my house)

è colpa sua (it's his / her fault)

è merito tuo (it's your merit)

piacere mio (my pleasure)

 

To use or not to use?

 

Possessive adjectives are not used as extensively as in English, for example in Italian we do not use them when talking about body parts, hair, clothes or personal belongings:

 

Ho lasciato la borsa a casa - I left my bag at home

Ha dimenticato il passaporto - She forgot her passport

Devi lavarti i capelli - You have to wash your hair

Mi fa male la testa - My head hurts

Si è rotto il braccio - He broke his arm

 

Mine

You can use the possessive adjectives above as possessive pronouns to express mine, yours, his / hers / its, oursand theirs, you just need to remove the noun:

 

La tua macchina è rossa, la mia è nera - Your car is red, mine is black

I miei amici e i suoi vanno d’accordo - My friends and his get along

La loro casa è grande, la nostra è piccola - Their house is big, ours is small

Lei ha la bici ma può usare la mia se vuole - She has a bike but she can use mine if she wants

 

When the possessive pronoun is preceded by the verb essere (to be), you can choose whether or not to use the definite article beforehand:

 

Questa borsa non è (la) mia, è (la) tua - This bag isn’t mine, its yours

Serena, questo libro è (il) tuo? Sì, è (il) mio, grazie - Serena, is this book yours? Yes, it is mine, thanks