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Those Pesky Possessive Adjectives

Becoming comfortable using possessive adjectives and personal pronouns in Italian can be a challenge because they work a bit differently then they do in other languages. To learn about them with Daniela, check out her series of lessons about possessive adjectives:

Corso di italiano con Daniela - Aggettivi Possessivi 



An important thing to remember regarding possessive adjectives is that Italian uses both an article and an adjective (think: the my book), which certainly takes some getting used to. So, "my book" would be: il mio libro. But there's an important exception. Daniela explains that family members get special treatment in terms of possessive adjectives:


Regola generale:

General rule:

l'aggettivo possessivo in italiano vuole sempre l'articolo,

the possessive adjective in Italian always needs the article

tranne in un caso, quando parlo della famiglia, della mia famiglia,

except in one case, when I talk about the family, about my family,

dei miei parenti stretti in singolare.

about my close relatives in the singular.

In questo caso non voglio l'articolo.

In this case I don't want the article.

Non dico: il mio padre, la mia madre.

I don't say: the my fatherthe my mother.

Dico: mio padre, mia madre.

I say: my father, my mother.

Captions 44-50, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Aggettivi Possessivi

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There is also another special case: an exception to the exception. When the nouns denoting family members become altered nouns (see this lesson about altered nouns), as in sorellina (little sister) instead of sorella (sister), or mamma (mom) rather than madre (mother), we put back the article!

Ho fatto una passeggiata con la mia sorellina.

I went for a walk with my little sister.

Mio fratello ci ha accompagnato.

My brother came with us.

See this article about mamma (not a totally clear cut case) and other family terms of endearment. 

See this chart about possessive adjectives, summing up in English what Daniela has been talking about in Italian.

Here are some exercises to test your comprehension:

Try this online exercise.
Do a short quiz.
Take another short quiz.


Possessive adjectives are just plain tricky. Not only do you need to know the rules, but you need to get plenty of practice before they become second nature, so be patient with yourselves and you will slowly but surely start getting these pesky possessive adjectives right, more often than wrong! 


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