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I'm trying to understand the difference between su and suyo.

SpanishDict has the same question, but the lack of upvotes on their answers and even comments quizzing the accuracy of some of the answers has left me unsure of the validity of the answer.

I will assume the answer from their site is correct:

su is a possessive adjective and suya is a possessive pronoun.When you use suya it would probably be preceded by the words "de," or "de la." When using su, I believe that it would usually precede the noun that it modifies

To help understand the use of suya/suyo, I'd like to know is there any need to learn suya. Are there situations where I couldn't rephrase the sentence to use su instead?

For clarity, I'm not trying to cheat the language, I have every intention of learning it as well as I can, but knowing this will help to understand the use case.

  • It's just the difference between "your" and "yours". – xji Sep 25 '16 at 4:58
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I will try to help, but there will be another person who will be able to clarify it better than me (I´m a native speaker, not a teacher).

I would use su as a possessive indeed, for example: (Not very good ones, but only so you can understand it)

¿Conoces a Juan? Este (coche) es su coche.

¿A qué casa quieres ir? La (casa) de Juan es muy grande, podemos ir a su casa.

And suyo/suya as pronoum, omiting what we are referring to, (in this case the car and home):

¿Conoces a Juan? Este coche es suyo.

¿A qué casa quieres ir? La (casa) de Juan es muy grande, podemos ir a la suya.

  • I'm surprised you can use La de Juan and not La casa de Juan but that's off topic for this post :) This is great. You are using brackets - Este (coche). I assume the brackets is because coche is already applied as it's in context? – Dave Sep 22 '16 at 8:51
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    Exactly, the same happens with La casa de Juan. You can use it, but casa is already in the question, so it´s not necesary. I´ll edit the post. – Nova10 Sep 22 '16 at 9:00
  • The more I think about this, with my English, the more I realise the use. This answer is great! – Dave Sep 22 '16 at 21:19
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It corresponds to the distinction in English between your and yours.

This is your car = Este es su coche

This is yours = Es suyo

So you do need suyo and its cousins mio, tuyo.

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Edit, of course I am just using the forms you suggested but if I knew you well I would use tu and tuyo

  • Maybe you should clarify that in your examples you are addressing the other person in the polite form (you = usted). I would normally translate "this is your car" as "este es tu coche". – Charlie Sep 22 '16 at 8:31
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Another case where you need suyo/suya is when you want to use a possessive and an (indefinite) article at the same time:

¿Quién es? Es un amigo suyo. (It's a friend of his)

versus the more specific

Es su amigo. (It's his friend)

The latter sentence is almost equivalent to Es el amigo suyo, but not being a native or a teacher, I'm not 100% sure!

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    You don't need it, as un su amigo is considered valid Spanish, but despite its long and formerly common use, these days it's use is highly restricted to certain geographical regions, and enough so that it's not perceived as grammatically correct by those not from that region (despite being so) and thus it's a good idea (but not required) to use un amigo suyo – user0721090601 Sep 22 '16 at 23:28

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