Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Hi everybody! Marika here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Italian questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: When do I need to add determinative articles to possessives?
Explanation
In English, you don’t use the article “the” before a possessive adjective or pronoun.
However, in Italian the definite article is part of the possessive. It isn’t optional. Also, remember that possessives must agree in number and gender with the nouns of the owned thing, not with the noun indicating the owner.
So we say:
Il mio cane (“My dog”). Mio is singular masculine, because cane is singular masculine
La tua casa (“Your house”) tua is singular feminine, because casa is singular feminine
I suoi genitori (“His/her parents”). Suoi is plural masculine, because genitori is plural masculine
And so on.
However, there are times when we drop the determinative articles in front of possessive adjectives. One time is before nouns of close family members.
We say:
Mia madre (“my mom”)
Tuo padre (“your dad”)
Suo fratello (“her brother”)
Sua sorella (“his sister”)
Nostra nonna (“our grandma”)
Vostra cugina (“your cousin”)
Exceptions to this are:
With the third person plural (loro, “their”)
La loro zia (“Their aunt”)
With plural nouns
I tuoi fratelli (“Your brothers”)
With modified nouns or if they’re preceded by an adjective
La mia sorellina (“My little sister”)
Il mio caro zio (“My dear uncle”)
Il suo cugino italiano (“His Italian cousin”)
Another case where Italian possessives don’t need the article is when the possessive is after the noun or in idiomatic expressions:
Mamma mia! (“Oh my!”)
Mio Dio! (“My God!”)
Lastly, you don’t need to add the article if the noun is already introduced by an indefinite adjective or a number. Here are two examples:
Puoi invitare quel tuo amico alla festa.
“You can invite that friend of yours to the party.”
Loro sono due miei amici.
“They are two friends of mine.”

Outro

Pretty interesting, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
A presto! “See you soon!”

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