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When do you use the possessive pronouns in the form of "sua", etc or in the form of "dela", etc?

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OK, so, what I'm getting is that there is an aspect of formality/informality as well as an aspect of what makes sense/helps in understanding the relationship of subject and object. Yes?

For learning: Portuguese
Base language: English
Category: WK087

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    Well, let me try to clear this point.
    First, I'm sure you know "seu, sua, seus, suas" mean "your, yours". I suppose you're asking about another phenomenom, when those pronouns can be replaced by "dele, dela, deles, delas." As a rule of thumb, use "seu, sua..." in more formal writing, avoiding "dele, dela...", which are more appropriate for casual Portuguese. However, there's a problem with that rule. You must notice if you're sentence does not look ambiguous. Let's suppose you're married and, as we were talking, I used the following structure:

    - Então, quando eu percebi, a Lúcia tinha saído com seu marido...
    (Then, when I realized, Lúcia had gone out with her/your husband...)

    The question which arises in constructions like that is who is the referent of "seu". The phrase is ambiguous because one cannot know wether Lúcia has gone out with her husband or with the listener's husband (in this case, you). That's the only point you must be concerned at. A sentence like that can even cause a divorce to happen! :-)

    Hopefully I have answered your question. For further information, feel free to contact me.
    Yours,
    Mateus.

    It's some kind of formality:
    Formal: seu, sua
    Informal: dele, dela

    - When you'll say 'seu, sua', put it in front of the noun, like this:
    Marcos dirige o seu carro. Aline perdeu a sua bolsa.
    (Marcos drives his car. Aline lost her purse.)
    - When you'll say 'dele, dela', put after the noun:
    Marcos dirige o carro dele. Aline perdeu a bolsa dela.
    (Marcos drives his car. Aline lost her purse.)

    - You may use 'SUA' for descripting the possessor of the object:
    'Maria está em sua casa.' (Maria is at her home.) [This gives the idea that the house is hers.]

    - You may use 'DELA' for descripting others who have he object:
    'Quando Angela chegou em casa, viu que Maria estava na casa dela.'
    (When Angela arrived at home, she saw that Maria was at her house.)
    [This gives the idea that the house is not Maria's, but Angela's.]

    Well, even I got confused now, hahaha. But OK, I'll try to explain.

    "sua" or "seu" is the relative of "your", but it'll depend of the object's gender in possession. Example:

    "Esta é a sua caneta." (This is your pen) - Gender female
    "Este é o seu livro." (This is your book) - Gender male

    However, "sua" or "seu" can be the relative of "yours" too, when it's put on the end of the sentence. Example:

    "Esta caneta é sua." (This pen is yours) - Gender female
    "Este livro é seu." (This book is yours) - Gender male

    As you see, It doesn't have so much differences.

    About "dela" or "dele", these pronouns in portuguese only appers at the end of the sentece and won't depend of the object's gender, the gener will be of the owner of it, so you can translate it to english in two ways, which both means the same thing. Example:

    "Esse livro é dela." (This is her book / This book is hers) - For "dela"
    "Esse livro é dele." (This is his book / This book is his) - For "dele"

    I hope I could help you. You're welcome.

    Take a look at this example:

    I have a sister. Her pants are black. Her hair is red.
    Eu tenho uma irmã. Sua calça é preta. O cabelo dela é vermelho. (correct – the subject exists)
    Eu tenho uma irmã. A calça dela é preta. Seu cabelo é vermelho. (correct – the subject exists)

    In this case, the subject is my sister, then you know it. So you can use both: "sua" or "dela". But if you don't know who is the subject, you should use "dela". Look:

    Her pants are black.
    A calça dela é preta. (correct – there's no subject, using "dela")
    Sua calça é preta. (incorrect – there's no subject, so in this case "sua" means "your" pants, not "her" pants)

    Good luck!
    1. SEU AND SUA (HIS/HER)
    O menino e seu livro = The boy and his book.
    A menina e seu livro = The girl and her book.

    Seu and sua can mean either "his" or "her", it depends on the noun's gender. Note that what matters is the object gender, and not the subject gender (as in English).

    O livro = seu livro (doesn't matter if the owner is a masculine or feminine noun)
    A luva = sua luva (doesn't matter if the owner is a masculine or feminine noun)

    People sometimes confuse it with "your". It's natural, once our most used '2nd person pronoun' is "você", and "você" is not a real pronoun - it's a noun and it's ever conjugated in the 3rd person. It's a bit weird, try to do that with English: instead of say "you", say "the mister" or "the mistress"... the result is that you'll conjugate the verb in 3rd person while addressing 2nd person:

    "The mister IS very interesting" - You ARE very interesting
    It works like "você":
    "Você É muito interessante" - Tu ÉS muito interessante.

    "IS the mistress working?" - ARE you working?
    "Você ESTÁ trabalhando?" - Tu ESTÁS trabalhando?






    2. DELE, DELA, DELES, DELAS (FROM HIM, FROM HER, FROM THEM)

    In the other hand, we have our so loved Portuguese preposition+pronoun fusions! ;)
    In order to better understand this possessives, keep in mind that they are, in fact:

    de + ele (from + he) = dele
    de + ela (from + she) = dela

    And there is a good range of varieties you can form by merging "de" and pronouns (even demonstratives!):

    dele, dela, deles, delas, disto, disso, destes, destas, desses, dessas, daquilo, daqueles...

    These ones are, however, more similar to English, as they agree with the subject noun (and not with the object noun, as the above mentioned does):

    "O livro dele" - His book
    "A luva dele" - His glove

    Note that the possessive pronoun agreed with the noun gender of "ele", which is masculine - instead of agreeing with noun gender of "luva", which is feminine.

    Any doubt? Ask me for more information and we can even manage to try some exercises!^^

    Emprego dos pronomes possessivos seu, sua, seus, suas, dele, dela, deles, delas:

    - seu: a utilização do pronome seu (e flexões) pode gerar frases ambíguas, podemos ter dúvidas quanto ao possuidor.

    A menina disse ao colega que não concordava com sua reprovação.
    (reprovação de quem? Da menina ou do colega?)

    Para evitar esse tipo de ambigüidade, usa-se dele (dela, deles, delas)

    A menina disse ao colega que não concordava com a reprovação dela.
    • A reprovação dela (da aluna)

    A menina disse ao colega que não concordava com a reprovação dele.
    • A reprovação dele (do colega)

    - existem casos em que o pronome possessivo não exprime propriamente idéia de posse. Ele pode ser utilizado para indicar aproximação, afeto ou respeito.

    Aquele museu deve ter seus cem anos. (aproximação)

    Meu caro amigo, cuide melhor de sua saúde. (afeto)

    Sente-se aqui minha senhora. (respeito)

    - seu: anteposto a nomes próprios não é possessivo, mas uma alteração fonética de Senhor.

    Seu José, o senhor poderia emprestar-me seu celular?

    http://www.brasilescola.com/gramatica/pronomes-possessivos.htm

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