Looking for Accelerated Spanish? We've rebranded!

Click here to learn more.

Mi, tu, su: Spanish possessive adjectives

Let’s learn how to use “mi”, “su”, “tu”, and “nuestro” before Spanish nouns. We’ll also get some practice with new conjunctions, including “pero” and “cuando”.

Full Podcast Episode


Let’s sort out the possessive words “mi”, “su”, and “tu”.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

As we continue practicing the subjunctive uses of Ser and Estar this week, let’s also work on a few words that are not nearly as difficult to learn.

Let’s start with some words that you can put before a noun. You already know how to use the word “house” or “friend” in a sentence by putting articles before these words, such as una casa or el amigo.

Let’s learn a couple more things that you can use right before a noun, specifically things like “my house”, “your house”, and “their things”.

To do this, we need possessive adjectives. The main three are mi, tu, and su.

Mi means “my”, tu means “your”, and su means “their”. Actually, su can mean pretty much anyone other than “me” or “you” or “we”; it can mean “his”, “her”, or “its” as well. But only in the possessive sense. Let’s practice this a bit.

How would you say:

The guy was at your house.

El chico estaba en tu casa.

Their house was near my house.

Su casa estaba por mi casa.

Incidentally there’s some ambiguity in this sentence, su casa estaba por mi casa, since su casa could also mean “his house” or “her house”; if you want to be more specific about whose house it is, you’d have to say la casa de él or la casa de ella. The word su is just shorthand that can be used when it’s clear who we’re talking about.

Note also that su can also refer to “your”, specifically if we’re talking to someone using usted. Remember that usted takes third-person verb conjugations, and also pronouns and adjectives. So for example, “Is it your house?”, spoken in a formal voice, might be: ¿Es su casa?

¿Es su casa?

These words can also be pluralized easily by just putting a hard S at the end. This is a bit confusing to English speakers, but these words are only plural if the noun they accompany is plural. For example, “their house”  is singular, su casa. But “their houses” is plural: sus casas. “My friends” is mis amigos, and “your friends” is tus amigos.

Let’s practice these a bit with a few sentence examples. Make sure you can predict whether the possessive adjective would be singular or plural.

His friends(m) are at my house.

Sus amigos están en mi casa.

Your houses are very big!

¡Tus casas son very big!

¡Tus casas son muy grandes!

I hope that it’s their house.

Yo hope que sea su casa.

Yo espero que sea su casa.

I hope that my friends(f) are here.

Yo hope que mis amigas estén aquí.

So all of these words, tu, mi, and su, changed based on whether they were singular or plural, just like our articles, la versus las. However, these words aren’t changing based on gender. “Your friend”, feminine, uses tu, as in tu amiga, and “your friend”, masculine, is also tu, as in tu amigo.

We have one more possessive word to learn, and it’s a bit more complicated than these. It’s the word nuestro, meaning “our”. And it’s a bit of a mouthful. In the memory palaces we sometimes use with our students, we use a silly story that emphasizes that the stress of this word sounds like “waste”. Nuestro.

This word does change based on gender, as well as whether the noun is plural or singular. For example, “our friend” might be nuestro amigo, but plural, “our friends” would be nuestros amigos. And “our house” is nuestra casa, but “our houses” is nuestras casas.

Let’s practice this a bit.

I hope that the boys are our friends.

Yo hope que los chicos sean nuestros amigos.

Yo espero que los chicos sean nuestros amigos.

I want her to be our friend.

Yo want que ella sea nuestra amiga.

Yo quiero que ella sea nuestra amiga.

Our boy wants us to be friends(m).

Nuestro chico wants que seamos amigos.

Nuestro chico quiere que seamos amigos.

We were at our houses in order to be safe.

Estábamos en nuestras casas para estar safe.

Estábamos en nuestras casas para estar seguros.

Now let’s learn a few conjunctions that are really easy to use because they’re used almost exactly like they are in English. Remember when we learned y, the word for “and”, we didn’t really have to do any special grammatical work because it’s pretty much a direct translation.

That’s true of the words for “if” and “but” as well. The word si, spelled S-I, is used pretty much exactly like the English word “if”, and the word pero (P-E-R-O) is used basically exactly like the conjunction “but”. You can use either of these words to join two sentences (or clauses) together, and neither one of them tends to imply a subjunctive when you use it (except in some advanced sentence templates that we’ll learn later). So both si and pero are pretty easy to use by default.

Let’s practice this.

I do it if he does it.

Yo lo do si él lo does.

Yo lo hago si él lo hace.

I was here, but they weren’t.

Yo estaba aquí, pero ellos no lo estaban.

Here’s a tricky one:

But I hope that he’s here if she is.

Pero yo hope que él esté aquí si ella lo está.

Pero yo espero que él esté aquí si ella lo está.

Now let’s learn the word o, which means “or”. It’s spelled simply as the letter O. This word is a lot like the word y, because you can either use it between items in a list or between two sentences to join them together. As an example of that first use, “he and she are here” could turn into “he OR she is here”. // might have to be: “he and she did it” could turn into “he OR she did it.”

Él o ella está aquí.

Or to put two entire sentences together, “we did it or they did it”.

Nosotros lo did o ellas lo did.

Nosotros lo hicimos o ellas lo hicieron.

But there is one difference from English: This word is ALSO how you translate the word “either” into Spanish when talking about a list of options. In English, we say “either he or she”; in Spanish, you say o él o ella.

Try this with some examples:

Either he isn’t present or she isn’t present.

O él no está o ella no está.

Either it’s because of being friends, or it’s because of being here.

O es por ser amigos, o es por estar aquí.

We have one more conjunction to learn, and it’s kind of a tricky one. The word cuando means “when”. If you want a mnemonic for this, the stress is on “wand”, so maybe you’re thinking of *when* you have a magic wand, or cuando you have a magic wand.

Here’s a simple example:

We were friends when we were kids.

Éramos amigos cuando éramos kids.

Éramos amigos cuando éramos niños.

But there’s something interesting and magical that the wand does, or that cuando does, in a particular situation. Check out this sentence:

We will do it when you are here.

My question is, what time does “when you are here” refer to? Is it the future tense, the present tense, or what? “We will do it when you are here.” In the first clause, we are using the future: “We will do it.” But in the second clause, for some reason we’re saying “you are here”. If that’s the future, we should say “when you will be here”. But we never say “We will do it when you will be here.”

Basically what’s happening is that we’re referring to when something happens, but when something happens in the future. And the rule in Spanish is that when you say when something happens, and it happens in the future, you actually use a subjunctive!

Why is this? It’s not indicating an intention or an emotion. But the fact is, there are some situations in Spanish that just flip a switch and trigger the subjunctive. You’ll stumble over them once in a while as you learn more and more Spanish words, and the word cuando is just one of them. This is simply a new sentence template to learn.

But it specifically happens only in this future situation. If you’re using cuando in the past, for example “we were friends when we were kids”, you don’t use the subjunctive; you just use the normal past tense. You also won’t do this when talking about the present if you’re referring to things that are repeated. For example, “I always give easy assignments when I am the teacher.” This uses a normal conjugation after “when”.

Yo always give easy assignments cuando soy el teacher.

But specifically if you’re talking about the future, “we will do something when this thing happens”, the “happens” there is going to be subjunctive. For example:

I will give easy assignments when I am the teacher.

Yo will give easy assignments cuando sea el teacher.

Now as a side note, we haven’t really talked about the future much in these lessons; this is just something to watch for. We’ll actually learn how to put Ser and Estar in the future next week. For now, the only future thing you have to worry about is when using the future triggers a subjunctive, specifically when the word cuando is involved.

So how much can you translate of this sentence?

We will do it when you are here.

(You should be able to translate everything except for “will do”.)

Nosotros lo will do cuando tú estés aquí.

Nosotros lo haremos cuando tú estés aquí.

How about:

He was happy when he was my friend.

Él estaba happy cuando era mi amigo.

Él estaba feliz cuando era mi amigo.

I will do it when I’m at the place.

Yo lo will do cuando esté en el lugar.

Yo lo haré cuando esté en el lugar.

We will be relieved when we are at home.

Nosotros will be relieved cuando estemos en casa.

Nosotros estaremos aliviados cuando estemos en casa.

All right, let’s put it all together and practice our possessive adjectives and our new conjunctions in just a few more sentence examples. Some of these are going to be very bizarre, definitely nothing you’d say in real life, but this is great practice for making up your own sentences on the fly in real life, so make sure to make a guess and practice every single one of these weird sentences out loud.

Your friends are at home, but I’m not.

Tus amigos están en casa, pero yo no lo estoy.

How funny that our houses are close!

¡Qué funny que nuestras casas estén close!

¡Qué divertido que nuestras casas estén cerca!

The problem was that either she or he wasn’t here.

The problem era que o ella o él no estaba aquí.

El problema era que o ella o él no estaba aquí.

Not if your friend(f) is here.

No si tu amiga está aquí.

We’ll do it when my friend(m) is here.

Nosotros lo will do cuando mi amigo esté aquí.

Nosotros lo haremos cuando mi amigo esté aquí.

Why are their houses bigger than my houses?

¿Por qué son sus casas bigger que mis casas?

¿Por qué son sus casas más grandes que mis casas?

Our friend is here so that you be his friend.

Nuestro amigo está aquí para que seas su amigo.

Either it’s because of being friends, or it’s because of being here.

O es por ser amigos, o es por estar aquí.

To get more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/28.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael. Our music was provided by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

Get the Free Podcast Materials
Sign up for instant access to the free course that goes with the podcast!
Access the Free Materials