Possessive pronouns are used to show ownership. They indicate who the owner of a certain thing is. Those Pronouns can accompany, describe or replace a noun.
In Portuguese the possessive pronouns have feminine, masculine, singular and plural forms. Usually those pronouns agree in gender and number with the thing possessed, not with the person that possesses. But there is an important exception for the possessive pronouns dele / deles / dela / delas. They agree in gender and number with the person.
Possessive pronouns can be used alone, without the noun they’re referring to. In this case, they are accompanied by definite articles (except with verb ser).
Meu carro é novo. O seu é velho – My car is new. Yours is old.
(In the first sentence “meu”accompanies and describe the object “carro”. In the second sentence observe that “seu” is masculine, replaces the word “carro” and it is used along with the definite article “o”)
Study the possessive pronouns in the chart below.
|My / mine||Meu / Meus||Minha / Minhas|
|Your / yours||Seu / Seu||Sua / Suas|
|His / Her/ hers / its||Dele||Dela|
|Our / ours||Nosso / Nossos||Nossa / Nossas|
|Their / theirs||Deles||Delas|
Observe that in all examples below the possessive pronouns agree with the thing possessed and are used before the noun.
Examples: Note that in the examples below the possessive pronouns are used without article, because theycome after verb to be
More Examples: Note that in the examples below the possessive pronouns are used with definite articles
The possessive pronouns seu /seus /sua / suas can be used to refer to your (yours), his, her (hers) andtheir (theirs) causing ambiguities, because you don’t know if the pronoun is referring to you or to other person.
In some cases to avoid ambiguity of the noun’s ownership, the possessive pronouns dele / deles / dela /delas are used to refer to his – dele, her/hers – dela, their/theirs – deles, their/theirs, but for feminine group – delas. These pronouns agree in gender and number with the person who owns the thing, because these possessive pronouns always refer to the person and not to the object.
Ele não encontrou seu amigo. He did not meet your/his friend. – This sentence has an ambiguity because you don’t know if the person is referring to your or his friend. If the person is referring to his friend is better to say:
Ele não encontrou o amigo dele. He did not meet his friend. – You can observe that “dele” agrees in gender and number with “ele” and comes after noun.
The possessive pronouns teu /teus /tua / tuas can also be used to refer to your and yours. And in this case, they also agree in gender and number with the thing possessed.
Usually Portuguese grammar books recommend that it is not necessary to use possessive pronouns before body parts, especially when they are used to complement the verb. But colloquially is very common to use possessive pronouns along with body parts.