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Italian Language/meaning of possesive adjective - "suo"


Dear Lauren,

Can you please help me to better understand the meaning of the Italian possessive adjective “suo”.

I am trying to understand how the Italian possessive adjective -  “suo” can be used to mean -  “your”, “his” and “her”  and not cause a lot of confusion.   

When I see the word  “suo” – I’m never sure what is meant.   How is one supposed to know if “suo” indicates  “your”, “his”, or “her” ?  Is this ever a problem for Italians?

Thank you for your help.



Hi Rich,

Yes you are correct in thinking that 'suo' can be used to refer to 'your' (polite), 'his' and 'her'

Regarding his and her,this is something that needs to be understood purely by context alone, I'm afraid. To be honest, it is usually understood as although it is referring to his/her, the 'suo' itself is agreeing with the object (e.g. la macchina will use sua and il gatto will use suo). It will be the verb itself that helps us to determine whether it is referring to his or her:

For example: Ha trovato il suo gatto? (Did he/she find his/her cat) - We will know who the person is as usually they will have been referred to by name before introducing them like this. If we really want to clarify (particularly if there are several people with cats and it is not understandable who is being referred to), we could say 'Lei ha trovato il suo gatto?' or 'Lui ha trovato il suo gatto' or even use the name, 'Luciano ha trovato il suo gatto?' or 'Maria ha trovato il suo gatto.'

Knowing when it refers to you formal is much easier as when written correctly, the 'suo' will have a capital letter, even if used in the middle of a sentence:
e.g. Ha trovato il Suo gatto? - Did you (formal) find your cat

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Italian Language

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Lauren O' Hagan


Although not my mother tongue, I have spoken Italian fluently for more than 12 years so I am very confident to answer any questions about the Italian language. I am also competent in Roman Dialect if there are any questions relating to this.


MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) Received the top grade in the whole of UK for GCSE Italian, receiving a letter of congratulations from the Italian Consulate Completed my two-year A Level in 1 year with a grade A country. Carried out many translation jobs for a wide range of clients and topics including self-help, literature and exam papers. For personal reference, I have also translated Federico Moccia's Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo and 2 of Francesco Totti's book.

El Pensador, University of Bristol

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