Italian possessives?

When learning Italian is important to become able to express the idea of possession of something. It would be almost pointless to learn how to describe objects if we are not able to attribute the property of those to someone, right? In this article, we are going to talk about the use of possessives in Italian.

You love Italy (that's probably why you ended up here!). Let's imagine you are at the airport in Rome and you can't find your luggage! How could you ask for that?

Let's take a step back


what are the 'aggettivi possessivi'?

This grammatical category includes words that are used to determine the possessions of something. An English equivalent can be found in the determiners called 'possessive adjectives' (my, your, his, her, its, our, their), small words that we daily use to express the idea of possession or belonging.

In Italian, you might already know some of them. 'Mio' is one of the most commonly used 'aggettivi possessivi' by students of all levels, because it can be found in expressions such as 'il mio nome è' ...' ('my name is...'). As discussed in this article , the matter of masculine or feminine, is present also in this case. In Italian we have a series of 'aggettivi possessivi' that depend on the gender of the object or the person they are referred to. Confused? Let's first have a look at them and then clarify their use!


Looking at the chart the good news is that the 'aggettivi possessivi' follow a regular pattern of masculine and feminine, and singular and plural: with the 'o' becoming an 'i' for masculine, singular to plural, and the 'a' turning into an 'e' for the feminine words - the only difference is with 'loro' that stays the same -.


So with this chart on display, there's just to understand how to use them. If we think of the English language, words are not defined with a specific gender and we have to create agreement with the possessive and the subject. Let's use some examples.

If my friend Giuseppe has a car , in English we would say:


That's his car

the 'his' would tell us that the bottle belongs to a man (Giuseppe), and if we switch the subject with my friend Sara, that sentence would become

That's her car


These basic examples show us how this is the only way possible to express the idea of belonging because in English the word 'car' is neutral, while his and her would help us to find and define the subject/owner.


In Italian, the agreement between the owner and the item owned would work the other way around.


Il mio amico giuseppe ha una macchina / My friend Giuseppe has a car


The word macchina is feminine and singular. using the same examples of before for both Giuseppe and Sara that would become :


Quella è la sua macchina


This is because in Italian the agreement follows the object and not the subject!

Let's go back and think of the expression 'il mio nome è...', imagine that now Giuseppe is presenting you Sara and she is presenting Giuseppe. Either way, they would consider the word 'name', so while in English we would say 'his /her name's' in Italian we would just use 'il suo nome è' (Look back at the chart) because nome is masculine and singular and refered to a third person (him or her).


To understand this a bit better try to think to your family, in English we talk about 'his daughter', in Italian we couldn't because the 'possessivo' would be in agreement with the word 'figlia' ('daughter') which is feminine and singular = 'sua'


Now, considering what we said

how would you ask for your valigia (luggage) at the airport?

Scroll down at the end of the page and comment with your answer!


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