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I just accept it as how the Portuguese mind thinks these things out. The article is superfluous for the English speaker (and, assumably, the German as well) but if they think, I read the letters yours, and we mentally translate and then let it go into the subconscious, it's no biggie! French has a LOT of that sort of thing, with reflexive verbs. "I me brush the teeth [mine]' (i.e., "Je me brosse les dents") -you get used to it, and then it's fun.
But this is an entirely different construction (Spanish has the same). I brush my teeth = Yo me cepillo los dientes, but it's because you are doing the brushing to yourself, not because the teeth are yours. In Spanish, you can express "my teeth" as "mis dientes" or as "los dientos mios" but never as "los mis dientes." This is a new construction to me, and I have to admit I don't understand it.
90% of the times, "eu leio (as) suas cartas" means "I read your letters". There is a better translation for "I read his/her letters" which is "eu leio as cartas dele/dela", and we prefer to use that one to remove ambiguity.
If you're talking to a man you say the same thing, "eu leio (as) suas cartas", because "suas" is connected to "cartas" which is feminine. But we say:
- Eu leio (os) seus livros.
because "livros" is masculine.
"suas" will always mean your, as the example we´re discussing.. the context will provide you with that information.. Are we talking about Marie's letters or John's letters?.. you get it? that is going to define it.. and talking about "as" that is only a rule that cannot be more than accepted.. but as I replied before, the meaning is exactly the same, just informal..