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Spanish possessive adjectives (e.g., mi, tu, su, nuestro, vuestro) are commonly introduced to students of Spanish in the later part of their first semester of study. What features characterize this grammatical category in the language? Morphologically, the Spanish possessive adjectives consist of a lexical base that is either free (e.g., mi, tu, su) or bound (e.g., nuestr-, vuestr-). The two bound bases require one of two inflectional morphemes designating grammatical gender: the suffix -o marks the masculine and -a the feminine, according to the gender of the noun modified. Both the free and bound lexical bases may carry an inflectional morpheme to designate plurality in number: the suffix -s marks the plural, again according to the noun modified. The possessive adjectives require no morpheme to indicate the singular. In other words, the singular is literally unmarked in the language. The meaning of "singular" is derived from the absence of the plural marker -s. In sum, the singular can be understood as a "zero morpheme", while the plural is the suffix -s. The structure of all six possessive adjectives in the language is summarized in Table 1, where "-" designates a morpheme boundary.

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Honors Thesis-Open Access