Possessives in Brazilian Portuguese

This page explains use of possessives in Brazilian Portuguese. Possessive determiners and possessive pronouns come up in day-to-day conversations all of the time and indicate that something belongs to, or is owned by someone.  

Possessives in Brazilian Portuguese

Possessive determiners including my, your, his, and her come before the noun they are modifying e.g. it is my house/é minha casa. Possessive pronouns can also replace the noun they are modifying, conveying ownership without telling what exactly is being owned –  e.g. it’s yours/é seu.

See here for more about nouns in Brazilian Portuguese

In Portuguese, possessive determiners and possessive pronouns vary in gender (masculine and feminine) and number (singular and plural).  Some possessive pronouns reflect the gender and quantity of the owner, and others relate to the thing that is owned. 

Meu, Seu, Nosso

In Portuguese, possessive determiners and possessive pronouns make use of the same words, most commonly meu, seu and nosso, plus their associated feminine and plural forms.

Pronoun/ determinerPersonal pronounEnglish translationMasculine singularFeminine singularMasculine pluralFeminine plural
meueumy or minemeuminhameusminhas
seuvocê, vocês / ele, ela, eles, elashis, her or hers, your or yoursseusuaseussuas
nossonósour or oursnossonossanossosnossas

When using meu, seu and nosso, the gender doesn’t depend on who owns the object, but on the gender and number of what is owned.  For example the word hat / chapéu is masculine: my hat is blue / meu chapéu é azul

Dele, Dela, Deles, Delas 

As you can see in the table above, the same possessive seu is used when talking about things owned by other people, including his, her/hers and your/yours. Because this can be confusing, Brazilians prefer to use the possessives dele/dela and deles/delas instead.  Dele (his) and dela (hers) are contracted forms of de+ele (of + him) and de+ela (of + her).

The rules for using dele/dela and deles/delas differ from those of meu, seu, teu and nosso.  When using dele/dela/deles/delas, the pronouns should agree in gender and number with the person who owns the item and should be placed after the noun, for example, a casa delas é bonita/their house is beautiful.

de‘sirmā de Paulo/Paulo’s sister
delaherirmā dela/ her sister
delehisirmā dele/ his sister
delestheirIrmā deles/ their sister

See here for more information about personal pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese

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