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The most difficult part of my learning Spanish, is to get to grips with the various forms of pronouns, and now the posessive adjectives mi, tu, and su. I'm asking myself, how one would translate

Whose tea is it?
Is it your tea, his tea, or her tea?

The best I can do is using google translate

¿De quién es el té?
¿Es el té, el té o el té?

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If you want to be really old fashioned, you can ask

¿Cúyo té es?

Where cúyo/a/os/as is an interrogative that needs to agree with the possessed item and is directly equivalent to English whose?.

But in modern day Spanish, that is not used (and so you shouldn't either, unless you're a native speaker, in which case you should to bring it back to life ;-) ), and instead you use

¿De quién(es) es el té?

The plural form is used when you expect a plural answer, similar to English's whose vs who all’s.

When making general statements of possession, you will most often use the unstressed possessive adjectives in front of the possessed noun:

  • mi(s): my
  • nuestro/a/os/as: our
  • tu(s): your (inf.)
  • vuestro/a/os/as: y'all's (inf.)
  • su(s): his, her, its, your (frml.), their, y'all's (frml.)

Because su(s) has many different potential meanings, it's common to clarify by using [def. art.] [noun] de [pron.] For example, instead of saying su perro when we mean it to belong to a guy, we can say el perro de él. Or instead of sus libros when referring to a group of girls, we can say los libros de ellas. While vastly less common, you can do this same structure with first and second person pronouns. While vos/nosotros/as/vosotros/as don't require any special work, yo takes the special form and takes the special form ti: mi libro = el libro de mí, tu camiseta = la camiseta de ti). In most situations, you'll need to add on mismo/a for it to be considered grammatical (el libro de mí mismo), and the de nosotros is generally only heard in the Americas.

You can also use the stressed possessive adjectives, which also allow for indefiniteness (the unstressed ones shown above act on their noun as if a definite article were there and in fact in old Spanish it was common). These stressed ones go after the verb and will agree in gender and number and can be nominalized (in which case they correspond to the English possessive pronouns that end in -s:

  • mío/a/os/as: my/mine
  • nuestro/a/os/as: our/ours
  • tuyo/a/os/as: you/yours (inf.)
  • vuestro/a/os/as: y'all's
  • suyo/a/os/as: his, her/hers, its, you/yours (frml.), their/theirs, y'alls (frml.)

These are quite common when answering questions regarding possession (but notice, sometimes clarification is needed using the de [pron.] format:

¿De quién es el libro?
—Es mío.

¿De quiénes son las manzanas?
— Pues, son suyas.
¿Eh?
— Digo, de esas niñas.

  • Interesting answer, but 2 things: 1- ¿Cúyo... is correct, but no longer in use. 2- I think de mí and de tí are not correct. I would like to learn if I'm wrong, so please anybody teach me with some reference on this. – Blas Soriano Jun 8 '15 at 21:43
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    @BlasSoriano I pointed it in my answer that cúyo is antiquated (the DRAE lists it as desusado, a shame, honestly, it's a useful word). es de mí/ti isn't common, and quite possibly dialectal (or maybe I'm letting my Asturian influence me too much, where that construction is relatively common). I'll check with the Gramática when I get home and update. Thanks for the heads up. – guifa Jun 8 '15 at 21:50
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    @BlasSoriano indeed, in Gramática (§19.4a-d,n; pp. 1355-7, 1360), it notes that using de mí/ti is normally uncommon enough so as to be considered agrammatical (until you add mismo/a and then it magically becomes grammatical: el libro de mí mismo), but then details a list of exceptions where it is either permitted or even expected (delante de mí sounds much better than mi delante or delante mío, though all three are correct). Also, the de nosotros/as ~ nuestro/a/os/as is generally considered acceptable only in the Americas and the Carribean. – guifa Jun 9 '15 at 4:44
  • Thans for the reference, I agree. I forgot about when adding the reflexive. As sidenote, nuestro/vuestro/suyo is often found in some parts (like south of Spain) as de nosotros/vosotros/ellos without the reflexive mismos when answering to de quién. – Blas Soriano Jun 9 '15 at 5:46
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English:

Whose tea is it? Is it your tea, his tea, or her tea?

Spanish (literal):

¿De quién es el té? ¿Es tu té, su té, o su té?

Alternate (natural) to make it clear:

¿De quién es el té? ¿Es tuyo, de él, o de ella?

All the possessive adjectives ("/" separates gender, "," separates number):

  • my -> mi, mis
  • your -> tu, tus
  • his/her/its -> su, sus
  • our -> nuestro/nuestra, nuestros/nuestras
  • your -> vuestro/vuestra, vuestros/vuestras
  • their -> su, sus
  • I would have used: "a quien le pertenece este te", but that's more formal. – Paul Jun 8 '15 at 13:54

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