Using Pronouns When Describing Possessions

This is a subject that has confused me for a while when learning Italian, and that is when, and when not to use the pronouns (i.e il, la, i le, gli) when describing what something or someone owns. For example, I have seen in some contexts that it is only correct to say:

"la mia generazione" and in other situations you must say "mia generazione." There are obviously millions of examples one could give but this is the first that springs to mind.

I don't know if anyone else is struggling with this but I would appreciate it if someone could help to explain how to use them correctly, if there should be a rule.

Thanks Duolino.

April 25, 2014


In the moment you are really confusing something. I try to respond in more detail because it's a chapter of the Italian grammar which often creates problems.

la, il, lo, le, gli etc. are "definite articles" used (or non used) with the possessive pronoun (mia, mio, tuo etc.).

Yes, their a some rules.

Normally you have to use the possessive pronoun with the definite article.

  • i miei libri

  • la mia casa


1) in case of family members in the singular form you have to omit the article.

  • mia sorella, mio fratello, mia madre, mia zia etc.

But if you use A) a plural form of family members or B) another "specification" C) or "loro", "proprio" or D) a pet name you have to use the definite article:

  • A) le mie sorelle, i miei fratelli, le mie zie etc.

  • B) la mia bella sorella, la mia dolce moglie; Il mio zio che abita in Sicilia.

  • C) il loro padre, la loro sorella, il proprio fratello

  • D) il mio papà, la mia mamma, il mio fratellino (only for mamma e papà nowadays - according to the Treccani - also the forms "mio papà" e "mia mamma" are accepted)

2) if you address someone:

  • Mio caro amico!

  • Mia dolce madre!

3) in exclamations:

  • Mamma mia!

  • Oh Dio mio!

4) Sometimes it's used I) the indefinite article (it's a construction with the meaning : one.... of my) or II) a numeral III) a demonstrative pronoun (questo, quel etc.)

  • I) un mio amico = one of my friends

  • II) tre mie cugine

  • III) Ti presento questo mio amico.

5) There are also some idiomatic expressions without article:

  • a tua/sua disposizione

  • a tuo/suo favore

  • a tuo/suo vantaggio

6) In some expressions (idiomatic terms = modo di dire) or if you want to emphasize something the possessive pronouns can be put after the noun (obviously without an article):

  • fare di testa sua

  • per colpa tua

  • a casa mia

  • per conto mio

  • per amor tuo

  • da parte mia

Maybe another interesting point is that possessive pronouns are not used with parts of the body or own clothes or things you normally carry with you, like a wallet or a passport (obviously of the subject).

  • Ho sbattuto la testa. (I banged my head)

  • Si toglie la giacca (He takes off his jacket)

Credo che tu non possa avere visto "mia generazione" in Italian, maybe together with a preposition that goes together with the article (della mia generazione).

April 25, 2014

Thank you very much this makes much more sense now, and yes I did mean definte articles and not programs haha :-)

April 25, 2014

Well said!

Comunque, mi piace molto che nell'ultima frase you suddenly change to English. (<- like questo)

April 25, 2014

Hai ragione. Caspita! Non me ne sono accorta per niente. Scrivere in italiano mi viene più naturale.

Saluti Sandra

April 25, 2014

grazie, buona domanda e la risposta :)

April 27, 2014

This is really helpful thank you!

January 19, 2017
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