Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tell Me, Whose Is That Notebook?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are with a relative, a friend or a colleague. Maybe you are studying Spanish in a group and sharing a table. There are several books and other objects on the table. At some point, the other person points to a notebook and says to you something like: "tell me, whose is that notebook?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿de quién es ese cuaderno?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿de quién es ese cuaderno?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to say who the owner of the notebook in question is. When having to indicate who the owner of something is, there are two scenarios you need to consider:

1.- The person who is asking the question is the owner. It could be that the person asking the question is the sole owner. Alternatively, the item in question could be owned by a group of people which includes the other person, but excludes you.
In either case, before you reply, you must make a choice between two levels of formality for your reply, that is:
  • Less Formal.- The person you are replying to is someone with whom you do have a very good rapport (could be a relative, a friend or a colleague). Along with your reply, you also want to signal familiarity, affinity or closeness. In such cases, you could choose to be more familiar/ less formal and give replies such as:
    • Ese cuaderno es tuyo*, ¿no? (that notebook is yours, isn't it?)**;
    • Ese cuaderno es vuestro*, ¿no? (that notebook is yours, isn't it?)***;

**NB The other person is the sole owner- singular “yours”.
*** NB More than one person are the owners- plural “yours”.

  • More Formal.- The person you are replying to is someone with whom you don't have a very good rapport (could be a relative, a friend or a colleague). Along with your reply, you also want to signal that you want to keep your distance. In such cases, you would choose to be less familiar/ more formal and give reply such as:
    • Ese cuaderno es suyo*, ¿no? (that notebook is yours, isn't it?)**;

**NB In this case, the owner could be just one person- singular “yours”, or more than one person- plural “yours”.

2.- The owner could be anybody, other than those above.
In this case, you do not need to be concerned about levels of formality. All you need to consider is indicating who the owner is. Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Ese cuaderno es mío* (that notebook is mine);
  • Ese cuaderno es de Pedro (that notebook is Pedro's);
  • Ese cuaderno es de María (that notebook is Maria's);
  • Ese cuaderno es nuestro* (that notebook is ours);
  • Ese cuaderno es de Pedro y María (that notebook is Pedro's and Maria's);


Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿de quién es ese cuaderno?

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-Possessives
Spanish possessives can be either adjectives or pronouns. In either case, Spanish possessive adjectives and pronouns are used to indicate relationships of 'belonging' between possessions and their corresponding possessors.

    1. Possessive Pronouns
Possessive pronouns indicate a relationship of 'belonging' between a possessor and the corresponding possession(s). Key features of Spanish possessive pronouns are:
  • Spanish possessive pronouns must agree in gender and number with the possessions they replace/ stand for.
  • Possessive pronouns are preceded either by:
    • A definite article (el/ la/ los/ las)
    • The verb “ser


Singular Possession
Plural Possessions
Possession Gender
Mine
mío
míos
Masculine
mía
mías
Feminine
Yours (familiar)*
tuyo
tuyos
Masculine
tuya
tuyas
Feminine
Yours (formal)*
suyo
suyos**
Masculine
suya
suyas**
Feminine
His/ Hers
suyo
suyos**
Masculine
suya
suyas**
Feminine
Ours
nuestro***
nuestros
Masculine
nuestra***
nuestras
Feminine
Yours (familiar)****
vuestro***
vuestros
Masculine
vuestra***
vuestras
Feminine
Yours (formal)****
suyo***
suyos
Masculine
suya***
suyas
Feminine
Theirs
suyo***
suyos
Masculine
suya***
suyas
Feminine

Table 1 - Possessive Pronouns

  • Some examples of the use of possessive pronouns are:
    • Este libro es mío (this book is mine);
    • Esa foto es muy bonita, pero la mía lo es más (that photo is very nice, but mine is more so);
    • Esos libros son tuyos, ¿no? (those books are yours- you singular, aren't they?- familiar);
    • Esos cuadernos son muy bonitos, pero los tuyos lo son más (those notebooks are very nice, but yours are - you singular more so- familiar);
    • Ese libro es suyo, ¿no? (that book is yours- you singular, isn't it?- formal);
    • Ese cuaderno es muy bonito, pero el suyo lo es más (that notebook is very nice, but yours- you singular is more so- formal);
    • Pedro también tiene libros . Estos son los nuestros y aquellos son los suyos (Pedro also has books. These are ours and those are his);
    • Ese libro es nuestro, ¿no? (that book is ours, isn't it?);
    • Ese cuaderno es muy bonito, pero el nuestro lo es más (that notebook is very nice, but ours is more so);
    • Ese libro es vuestro, ¿no? (that book is yours- you plural, isn't it?- familiar);
    • Ese cuaderno es muy bonito, pero el nuestro lo es más (that notebook is very nice, but ours- singular is more so);
    • Esos libros son suyos, ¿no? (those books are yours- you plural, aren't they?- formal);
    • Esos cuadernos son muy bonitos, pero los suyos lo son más (those notebooks are very nice, but yours- you plural are more so- formal);

*NB All forms of possessive pronouns in these table rows stand for/ replace possessions belonging to “you”- singular.
**NB These plural forms (“suyos”/ “suyas”) stand for multiple possessions belonging to a single owner (you- singular or him/ her)
***NB These singular forms (“suyo”/ “suya”/ “vuestro”/ “vuestra”) stand for a single possession belonging to/ shared between multiple owners (you- plural, us or they)
****NB All forms of possessive pronouns in these table rows stand for/ replace possessions belonging to “you”- plural.

    2. Possessive Adjectives
Possessive adjectives indicate a relationship of 'belonging' between a possessor and the corresponding possession(s). Key features of Spanish possessive adjectives are:
  • Spanish possessive adjectives must agree in gender and number with the possession they accompany.
  • When placed before the possession (perhaps the more common arrangement), possessive adjectives take the following forms:


Singular Possession
Plural Possessions
Possession Gender
My
mi
mis
Masculine/ Feminine
Your (familiar)*
tu
tus
Masculine/ Feminine
Your (formal)*
su
sus**
Masculine/ Feminine
His/ Her
su
sus**
Masculine/ Feminine
Our
nuestro***
nuestros
Masculine
nuestra***
nuestras
Feminine
Your (familiar)****
vuestro***
vuestros
Masculine
vuestra***
vuestras
Feminine
Your (formal)****
su***
sus
Masculine/ Feminine
Their
su***
sus
Masculine/ Feminine

Table 2 - Possessive Adjectives (i)

  • Some examples of the use of this form of possessive adjectives are:
    • Mi amigo se llama Pedro (my friend's name is Pedro);
    • Mis amigos están aquí (my friends are here);
    • Tu amigo se llama Pedro, ¿no? (your friend's name is Pedro, isn't it- familiar);
    • Tus amigos están ahí, ¿verdad? (your friends are there, aren't they- familiar);
    • Usted y su amigo son españoles, ¿no? (you and your friend are Spanish, aren't you?- formal);
    • Usted y sus amigos son españoles, ¿no? (you and your friends are Spanish, aren't you?- formal);
    • Pedro y sus amigas son españoles, ¿no? (Pedro and his female friends are Spanish, aren't they?
    • Pedro y sus amigos son españoles, ¿no? (Pedro and his friends are Spanish, aren't they?
    • Nuestro amigo Antonio es español (our friend Antonio is Spanish);
    • Nuestra amiga Lucía es española (our friend Lucia is Spanish);
    • Nuestros amigos son españoles (our friends are Spanish);
    • Vuestro amigo Antonio es español, ¿no? (your friend Antonio is Spanish, isn't he?- talking to more than one person/ familiar);
    • Vuestra amiga Lucía es española, ¿no? (your friend Lucia is Spanish, isn't she?- talking to more than one person/ familiar);
    • Ustedes y su amigo son españoles, ¿no? (you- plural and your friend are Spanish, aren't you?- formal);
    • Ustedes y su amiga son españoles, ¿no? (you- plural and your female friend are Spanish, aren't you?- formal);
    • John y Ann dicen que su casa es muy antigua (John and Ann say that their house is very old);
    • John y Ann dicen que sus amigos viven en España (John and Ann say that their friends live in Spain);

*NB All forms of possessive adjectives in these table rows accompany possessions belonging to “you”- singular.
**NB These plural forms (“sus”) accompany multiple possessions belonging to a single owner (you- singular or him/ her)
***NB These singular forms (“su”/ “vuestro”/ “vuestra”) accompany a single possession belonging to/ shared between multiple owners (you- plural, us or they)
****NB All forms of possessive pronouns in these table rows accompany possessions belonging to “you”- plural.

  • When placed after the possession*, possessive adjectives take the same form as possessive pronouns, as follows:


Singular Possession
Plural Possessions
Possession Gender
My
mío
míos
Masculine
mía
mías
Feminine
Your (familiar)**
tuyo
tuyos
Masculine
tuya
tuyas
Feminine
Your (formal)**
suyo
suyos***
Masculine
suya
suyas***
Feminine
His/ Her
suyo
suyos***
Masculine
suya
suyas***
Feminine
Our
nuestro****
nuestros
Masculine
nuestra****
nuestras
Feminine
Your (familiar)*****
vuestro****
vuestros
Masculine
vuestra****
vuestras
Feminine
Your (formal)*****
suyo****
suyos
Masculine
suya****
suyas
Feminine
Their
suyo****
suyos
Masculine
suya****
suyas
Feminine

Table 3 - Possessive Adjectives (ii)

  • Some examples of the use of this form of possessive adjectives are:
    • Ese amigo mío es Pedro (that friend of mine is Pedro);
    • Esa amiga mía es Ana (that friend of mine is Ana);
    • Ese amigo tuyo es Pedro, ¿no? (that friend of yours is Pedro, isn't he?- familiar);
    • Esa amiga tuya es Ana, ¿no? (that friend of yours is Ana, isn't she? - familiar);
    • Ese amigo suyo es Pedro, ¿no? (that friend of yours is Pedro, isn't he?- formal);
    • Esa amiga suya es Ana, ¿no? (that friend of yours is Ana, isn't she? - formal);
    • Antonio y unos amigos suyos vinieron a vernos (Antonio and some friends of his came to see us);
    • Antonio y unas amigas suyas vinieron a vernos (Antonio and some female friends of his came to see us);
    • Antonio y unos amigos nuestros vinieron a vernos (Antonio and some friends of ours came to see us);
    • Antonio y unas amigas nuestras vinieron a vernos (Antonio and some female friends of ours came to see us);
    • John y Ann son amigos vuestros, ¿no? (John and Ann are friends of yours, aren't they?- familiar);
    • Lucy y Ann son amigas vuestras, ¿no? (Lucy and Ann are friends of yours, aren't they?- familiar);
    • Los padres de Antonio y unos amigos suyos vinieron a vernos (Antonio's parents and some friends of theirs came to see us);
    • Los padres de Antonio y unas amigas suyas vinieron a vernos (Antonio's parents and some female friends of theirs came to see us);

*NB In this arrangement, the possession is usually preceded by a demonstrative, an indefinite article, verb “ser”, etc.
**NB All forms of possessive adjectives in these table rows accompany possessions belonging to “you”- singular.
***NB These plural forms (“suyos”/ “suyas”) accompany multiple possessions belonging to a single owner (you- singular or him/ her)
****NB These singular forms (“suyo”/ “suya”/ “vuestro”/ “vuestra”) accompany single possessions belonging to/ shared between multiple owners (you- plural, us or they)
*****NB All forms of possessive pronouns in these table rows accompany possessions belonging to “you”- plural.

Now you should practise the use of possessives with some examples of your own.

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