La Sua as his or hers??

Hi, I'm completely new at Italian so if I'm seriously wrong- do forgive me.

With the phrase: ' La cucina è la sua ' , apparently this can mean 'The kitchen is hers' or 'The kitchen is his' (I put both answers into my duolingo 'test' and they both came out correct). I know that the possessive must match the gender/amount of the noun, but I still don't see how they makes 'his' and 'hers' indistinguishable ??

Any help would be great, thanks.

May 12, 2014


The owner, either her or his is normally determined by the context of the sentence/conversation. In the brief sentence from DL there is no context so it accepts either answer.

May 12, 2014

You already know what you need to know, now you just have to accept it: suo/sua doesn't specify the gender of the owner. One of the fun things about learning new languages is that they all work in different ways and make different distinctions, and yet they all communicate meaning just fine.

May 12, 2014

You're right, it can mean either "his" or "her" (or "your" with the formal "you," lei). If there could be confusion, it's possible to use "di lei" or "di lui" instead (for example, "Giulia e Marco hanno lo stesso libro, ma il libro di lei è nuovo.").

English has ambiguity with possessives as well. Take the word "yours" - it could be referring to possession by one single person or many, and may refer to something that is singular or plural. In Italian, if you were translating the word "yours," you would know all those things, plus the gender of the object, plus how close the speaker was to the "you" in the sentence. It's all relative.

May 12, 2014
  • 1944

The su* part of suo, sua, suoi, and sue means that the owner is 3rd person singular. The -o, -a, -oi, and -e is what indicates the gender and number of the thing(s) that is/are possessed.

April 29, 2017

To make it even more confusing, la sua can also mean "its". But, as mentioned already, without pictures of who is speaking, or some other context to tell you who the subjects are, his/hers (and sometimes "its") is often just a guess on Duo.

Luckily, most of the questions accept any of them for answers.

May 12, 2014

i think it just depends and its adjusted to whatever context its used on....

May 13, 2014

maybe I don't see it as confusing because I speak spanish and it's the same. in "la sua" , "la" refers to the object (a feminine object, i,e, la torta) and "sua" means his/hers, the trick in that in english you adapt the possessive to whom it belongs, in italian/spanish you adapt the possessive to the object. Il libro e il suo, la torta e la sua. hope it makes sense

May 13, 2014

In English, we use the number and gender of the owner but Italian uses the number and gender of the obect.

So "his/her apple" is "la sua mela" and his/her apples is "le sue mele". They (the apples) are his is therefore "Sono le sue." (With apologies to Johnny Cash.)

May 13, 2014

The gender of «sua» is used with the object, no with the person. Means "His" and "Her".

  • La sua casa = His/her house
  • Sua sorella = His/her sister
  • La sua palla = His/her ball
  • La sua pianta = His/her plant
  • Sua mamma = His/her mom

Also occurs with «suo».

  • Il suo cane = His/her dog
  • Suo fratello = His/her brother
  • Il suo tavolo = His/her table
  • Il suo cibo = His/her food
May 14, 2014

People often find this to be a maddening and/or confusing aspect to Italian when they're new to the language, but if you think about it English really isn't so different.

In Italian you have all the forms of "suo/sua/sue/suoi" and the "his/hers/its/formal yours" meanings they can take on, but in every case you need something established earlier in conversation to determine which one is the appropriate interpretation.

In English the only thing we get out of the possessive pronouns is the gender of the person. But if I were to walk into the room, point at a pen, then bark at you "that's his pen" you'd probably look at me like I just shoved my finger up my nose and ask "whose?" We know the owner of the pen is a man, but we're none the wiser as to which man is the correct owner.

English has the same need of someone being established earlier in conversation, and when that happens in both Italian and English the proper interpretation is much, much easier than you might think.

May 20, 2014
Learn Italian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.