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Showing possession in Spanish


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Old March 25, 2011, 10:48 AM
BMG BMG is offline
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Showing possession in Spanish

I'm a little confused by this. I know of the words mi, tu, su, and nuestra. But, I've noticed phrases and expressions where, in English, the noun would be preceded by "my/his/her/your," but in Spanish, it is preceded by "el/la". The best example I can think of is when my Spanish teachers would ask us to raise our hands by saying "Levante las manos". Why is it not "levante sus manos"?

I try to pick up on patterns to figure out the rules of the language when learning Spanish, but I haven't been able to do so for this one. I never know when I should say "mi" or "el/la" when referring to something of mine. Is there a general rule I can follow to use the correct word?
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Old March 25, 2011, 01:07 PM
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AngelicaDeAlquezar AngelicaDeAlquezar is offline
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For us it's rather obvious that one person uses one's own feet, eyes, hands, etc., no one else's, so "abro mis ojos", "levanta tus manos", and similar expressions are considered pleonasms.

You can take a look here for some more explanations:
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Old March 27, 2011, 07:39 PM
Luna Azul Luna Azul is offline
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In Spanish the conjugation of the verb tells you whose hand or eyes the person is referring to. If I say "levanta las manos", the verb "levanta" is conjugated in the second person singular (tú) so it's obvious that "tú" is the one who needs to raise the hands.

The only time we use the possessives is when the action does not relate to the person you're talking to. For example, you have my book. In that case I tell you "dame MI libro", because if I say "el libro" it doesn't make clear which book I'm talking about.

I don't know if this explanation makes sense, this is my very first reply in this forum.
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Old March 27, 2011, 07:44 PM
Aniketa Aniketa is offline
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As Luna Azul said, the verb form "Levante" clearly states that it's refering to "usted" so it is not necessary to say "sus manos" although you can say it if you want. It is more common to use the definite article "las" in those cases
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