Ok. Here's a subject I struggle with. I know that Paralee clearly states in Lesson 4.9 that one is never to use posessive personal pronouns as adjectives when describing body parts. Nevertheless, I sometimes hear native Spanish speakers using them. I searched the word "pies" (feet) in Google.com.mx and found the following entry in a NIH website:

"Cuide bien a sus pies. Revíselos a menudo. Use un espejo para ver las plantas de los pies"

I've also heard personal pronouns used in popular music, as in "Labios Compartidos" by Maná. Just one of the many examples in this song is the statement "Ya no puedo compartir tus labios (I'm no longer able to share your lips).

So my question is, is it ok sometimes to use "mi", "tu" and "su" to describe body parts? If so, are there any rules for this usage or is it felxible?

Bueno. Aqui es un sujeto con cual me lucho. Ya sé que Paralee dice claramente en leccion 4.9 que nunca usarse pronombres posesivos como adjectivos cuando describiendo los partes del cuerpo. Sin embargo, a menudo oigo hablantes nativos usandolos. Busqué por Google.com.mx y encuentré el siguente entrega de informacion en un sitio del NIH (National Institutes of Health):

"Cuide bien a sus pies. Revíselos a menudo. Use un espejo para ver las plantas de los pies"

Tambien, he oido cantantes usandolos en música popular, como en "Labios Compartidos," por Maná. Unicamente uno de los exemplos es el dicho "Ya no puedo compartir tus labios."

Así, mi pregunta es, ¿"es okay, "a veces" usar "mi," "tu," y "su" para describir los partes del cuerpo? Si lo es posible, hay unas reglas para este o es flexible?

  • ¡Labios compartidos¡ Manalá! Yes! I'm watching this one, buena pregunta amigo mío. Es las manos. :) - EL_MAG0 Aug 21, 2011
  • I would have thought that "Cuídese bien a los pies" is also correct here, Mateo. Good question, will follow it. - galsally Aug 21, 2011
  • Cuide bien sus pies / Cuídese bien los pies - the first way sounds better to me despite going against the guidelines I stated below since it implies the legs as an object. Pero que se yo. - jeezzle Aug 21, 2011
  • Hay la canción, Colgando en tus manos por Carlos Baute también. - EL_MAG0 Aug 21, 2011
  • Muchísimas gracias a todos por sus gran respuestos! Thanks everyone! - _Mateo_ Aug 21, 2011

6 Answers




Jeezzle se peina el pelo. ------> Jeezzle --------> pelo. Obvious whose pelo. Also the pelo is real and inseparable so definite article.

Quiero sentir tus labios en mi cara. Correcto -----------> possessive, otherwise you don't know whose labios, whose face.

Quiero sentir los labios en la cara. ¿Que que? ¿De quien? Possessive needed. Otherwise confusion. Possessive gives clarity to the sentence that is otherwise lacking.

Also if the body part is dead or inactive or "spiritually dissociated" you can use possessive. False leg, false eye, mi pierna, mi ojo. Real leg, real eye. La pierna, el ojo.

So to clarify

  1. possessive when you don't know whose, definite otherwise.
  2. possessive when you are spiritually or physically dissociated from that body part like false leg, false eye.

¿Ya ves?


PS La mano.

PPS La pierna de LA izquierda. Can the other way be used? (mi izquierda) Maybe but it sounds really off to me. Gracias.

  • The "el pelo" en peinarse is not necessary. One just says me peino, te peinas, etc., it is already implied that it is el pelo that is being combed. - Deanski Aug 21, 2011
  • Bien expicado! - Jeremias Aug 21, 2011
  • Awesome answer, Jeezle! That makes total sense to me. Me lo aprecio, amigo! - _Mateo_ Aug 21, 2011


I think this is a great question and shows you are quite observant. I don't know the answer, either.

I might add there are other forms the of possesive adjective, including the "long-form possessive adjective". (Makes it sound like a tax form smile .) These are mío, tuyo, etc.

El coche mío consume mucha gasolina.

In this case the long form adjective always follows the noun it modifies. But this is off topic except that I never heard or saw this used with parts of the body.

"La pierna de mi isquierda" seems unusual but correct. Maybe a more knowledgeable speaker will comment on that as well.

My guess is that the use of possessive adjectives in conjunction with parts of the body is a relatively new usage, a less formal "corruption" of the language (to a purist), but it is certainly used widely, despite the fact that grammar books I have seen are in agreement with Paralee's explication.

I look forward to reading a knowledgeable explanation!

  • Jaja - tax form! Gracias, Jeremias! Yo pensaba lo mismo de posible "corrupciones" recientes. - _Mateo_ Aug 21, 2011


In that case, and to pick up on Jeezle's suggestion,

¡No, me estás tomando el pelo! smile

Because of the reflexive use, it's "el" pelo because the possessor is not in doubt.

So this is true? You use "mi pelo" or similar when the possessor is otherwise not clear? That is so simple.

Because, you could also say

¿Quieres manejar el coche mío?

And then, going back to what jeezle said, according to his rule, which is certainly mostly true (Jeezle I'm just pushing here because that's the way I learn), you would in fact say

Es mas largo mi pierna isquierda. Or, Es mas largo el pierna de la isquierda.

In the context, I actually think the the first option sounds better. But

Me duele la pierna isquierda, for the reason give above.

Gracias por ser tan paciente.

  • izquierda - 0074b507 Aug 21, 2011
  • Thanks again, Jeremias. That's how I learn, too. - _Mateo_ Aug 21, 2011


I don't know about mi and tu, but I was taught that you can say "su mano."



grammar article on topic

I believe that this usage also spills over onto clothing and other personal items. Sometimes you will read...Él se puso la corabata. He put on his tie. (since it is obvious that the tie belongs to him, the definite article is used rather than the possessive adjective).

Ellá se aplicó el maquillaje. She put on her makeup. (se maquilló)

  • Entonces, es posible que decir "Ellá te aplilcó mi maquillaje en tus labios con las manos." - She put my makeup on your lips with her hands. If that works, then I think I understand everyone's comments. Gracias, otra vez, qfreed! - _Mateo_ Aug 21, 2011
  • Yes, when it is not obvious who is doing what with whom unless you are explicit, you use possessive adjectives. When it is implicit you use the definite article. - 0074b507 Aug 21, 2011
  • Since we have 3 people involved in your example I would not use las manos. We don't know whose hands were used. (Though common sense would suggest whose). - 0074b507 Aug 21, 2011
  • Got it. Yeah. That's kind of what I was thinking with "las manos." "She" is the one applying the makeup so it seemed right that the implicit "las" would work. But i can see it working both ways. Thanks! - _Mateo_ Aug 21, 2011


"Cuide bien a sus pies. Revíselos a menudo. Use un espejo para ver las plantas de los pies"

Hahaha... you better take good care of your feet, or they will get angry, pack their stuff and leave you forever. That "a" in "Cuide bien a sus pies" is only used with people, so I guess those feet must be people after all. Obviously, that funny sentence has been written by a non-native, and it can be found in a US government page. Many of those pages are often written so bad, that it is worth going there when you feel low, just to have a laugh.

  • Nice! I didn't catch the "a." That's a funny observation, Lazarus. Thanks, man. - _Mateo_ Aug 21, 2011