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Example sentences:

la muñeca de la niña.the child's doll.

la muñeca es de la niña.

a) los amigos de María.Maria's friends.

b) los amigos son de María.

a) los perros del muchacho.the boy's dogs.

b) los perros son del muchacho.

I am a bit confused after learning that you use 'ser' with possession. What's confusing me is:

  1. I think these two sentences a and b, mean the same thing.

  2. If using 'de' before the noun shows possession, why is 'ser' needed to show possession?

These examples were taken from "easy spanish step by step"

  • Welcome! Your second pair of examples are not grammatical Spanish, I'm afraid.
    – pablodf76
    Nov 25, 2017 at 15:28
  • Hello Simple and welcome to Spanish Language. Could you edit the question and copy the text from the image so that it is easier to search for?
    – fedorqui
    Nov 25, 2017 at 22:06

3 Answers 3


the difference is that when you use "de" what you are doing is that you are building the subject

adding "de" in Spanish, is the same as using the Apostrophe in English :

"el carro de Mike es azul" Translates to : "mike's car is blue",

While the use of "es de" you at actually Conjugating the verb "ser" to indicate an ownership, and the "de" is used to define who's the owner., i'll need a longer example to explain how this works with a question:


question: "de quien es este carro?"

answer : "ese carro es de mike"

to English :

question : "whose is that car?

answer " that's mike's car"


Both sentences mean the same thing approximately. There's a small nuance.

La muñeca de la niña = The girl's doll. That's correct.

However, when you say "La muñeca es de la niña", you are omitting one part to make it sound better and less redundant.

"La muñeca es [la muñeca] de la niña" = The doll is [the doll] of the girl = The doll is the girl's doll.

So the English equivalent would actually be "The doll is the girl's one".

That's the difference. When you include the verb "ser", you're implying that.

Then, there's another discussion about whether it is neccesary or not, or if "ser" makes any sense. It is a "copula" (verbo copulativo), it just matches subject with information about it.

  • You don’t need "one" there in English: a possessive noun can stand alone: The doll is the girl’s.
    – tchrist
    Nov 25, 2017 at 22:58
  • That's true, but I wanted to highlight the difference.
    – FGSUZ
    Nov 25, 2017 at 23:07

Your a and b:

a) los amigos de María.

b) Los amigos son de María.

Your questions:

1) I think these two sentences a and b mean the same thing.

2) If using de before the noun shows possession, why is ser needed to show possession?

1) The concept is the same in a and b, you're right. The way you'd use these phrases to make whole sentences would be slightly different, though. For starters, note that (b) is already a complete sentence, but (a) is just a fragment.

2) You don't need ser to show possession, but you might need it to make a complete sentence. I think this will be easier to explain if I start out with some English sentences and then put them into Spanish.

i) Juan and José are María's friends. OR *Juan and José are friends of María's. | Esos dos hermanos son amigos de María.

ii) Please invite María's friends from school, Juan and José. | Por favor, invita a los compañeros de escuela de María, Juan y José.

iii) Look! María's friends, Juan and José, are at the other cash register. | ¡Mira! Los amigos de María están en la otra caja.

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