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3rd Person Possessives: Seu and Sua

His, Hers, Yours, and Theirs

There are just a few more Portuguese possessives to learn:

Subject Possessive Pronoun/Determiner English Equivalent
Ele, Ela, Você Seu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Sua paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Seus paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Suas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio His, Her/Hers, Your/Yours (formal)
Eles, Elas Seu paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Sua paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Seus paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Suas paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Their, Theirs

See what happens there? The pronouns/determiners for the third-person singular (+ você) and the third-person plural are all the same!

Gender and Number Agreement

Once again, the pronouns or determiners must agree with the respective noun, not with the subject!
If we’re talking about single objects such as um carro paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a car (masc. noun) and uma mota paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio a motorcycle (fem. noun), here’s what we get:

  • O seu carro e a sua mota. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio His car and his bike. – Each belonging to him
  • O seu carro e a sua mota. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Her car and her bike. – Each belonging to her
  • O seu carro e a sua mota. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Your car and your bike. – Each belonging to you (individual, formal)
  • O seu carro e a sua mota. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Their car and their bike. – Each belonging to them

As you can see, the Portuguese sentence is the same in every situation! In order to fully understand the sentence, you would have to know who was being referred to from previous context.
If we had multiple cars and multiple bikes, we’d just need to pluralize the determiners to match:

  • Os seus carros e as suas motas. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio – Again, the cars and bikes could be his, hers, yours (formal), or theirs.

These constructions tend to be used more often in writing and in formal speech because they create so much ambiguity. Later you’ll learn a convenient workaround that the Portuguese language gives us to use in these cases when you need more context. You will still hear this version however, so let’s practice with seu and its variants first before moving ahead to the other (de + pronoun) form.

Comments

    • ‘Vosso’ is for the second-person plural (Vocês), while ‘Seu(s)’ and ‘Sua(s)’ is for the formal second-person singular (Você) 🙂

  • Somewhere I picked up the phrase “Obrigada pela tua ajuda.” and have used it in shops etc. when someone has gone out of their way to assist me.
    But now I see that may be too informal, right?
    Should I be using “sua” instead when thanking clerks, cashiers, or at the medical office?

    • Yes, “tua” would usually be too informal in those settings. “Obrigada pela sua ajuda” would be the default choice, unless the other person also addresses you informally 🙂

  • I’m just going to Ignore the top two and use dele. It causes too much confusion to apply ‘his’ to seu/sua in any circumstance. It would literally never be necessary.

    O seu carro e a sua mota.
    Your (formal/singular) car and your (formal/singularl) bike.
    – Each belonging to you (formal).

    And then the plural equiv. of the above is all that anybody will ever need.

  • I’m learned with dele/ dela/ deles/ delas
    And i feel more confortable to use this way…
    Is this way totally wrong?

    • No, this is not wrong at all. In fact, it’s much more common to hear dele, dela, deles, delas. You will read more about using those forms later in the Possessives unit. We think it’s important to teach both ways because you will hear both, but as you will find out, using dele,etc is typically a better choice because it makes what you’re saying less ambiguous. 🙂

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