Learn French Possessive Adjectives
How do you say “my” in French? What’s the difference between sa and son? Do I use leur or leurs? French possessive adjectives show who or whom the noun belongs to. Don’t worry, this part of French grammar is not difficult to master at all. These examples will show you clearly. Learn all their forms, how to use them, and when you can add French possessive adjectives to sentences. Develop your French fluency effortlessly.
Singular Masculin Noun
Singular Feminin Noun
Plural (Masculin and Feminin)
Rules of French Possessive Adjectives
French possessive adjectives or “adjectifs possessifs” are used in the French to show who or whom the noun belongs to. Possessive adjectives in French are more complicated than in English. In French, adjectives have several forms according to the number or gender of the possessed noun. The following are characteristics of possessive adjectives French.
- They are not used together with an article but in its place.
- French possessive adjectives are directly placed in front of the noun or adjective.
- They have to correspond with the gender and number of the possessed noun.
- A possessive pronoun can be used to replace it when it is used together with a noun in a sentence.
- They’re not affected by the speaker’s gender.
When Do You Use French Possessive Adjectives?
As mentioned earlier, every French noun is either masculine or feminine, even when speaking of things like chairs and books. In French whatever possession adjective is used is determined by the gender of the possessed noun. A possessive adjective in French explains the ownership attribute of the noun it is referring to. The adjectives indicate the owner of the noun they are describing.
In French grammar, both written and spoken possessive adjective precedes a noun. Unlike regular adjectives, possessive adjectives take the place of articles. For example, the French version of the article “the”, “le,” “la”, or “les” is replaced with a possessive adjective in the following sentence. I would say “mon livre,” which means “my book,” to show that the book in question is indeed mine.
However, the French possessive adjectives aren’t determined by gender alone but also whether the noun is singular or plural.
Use Possessive Adjectives Before Every Noun in a List
When listing down nouns, French possessive must be used in front of every noun. In English, the possessive adjective only needs to be used once. For example;
- Mon fils, ma fille et mes petits-enfants. – My son, daughter, and grandchildren.
The adjectives “mon,” “ma,” and “mes,” have to appear before the nouns. In English, you only need one adjective in the phrase, that is, “My son, daughter, and grandchildren.” This is because French possessive adjectives change their forms according to the noun. If some nouns in the list are masculine, while others are feminine, they need different adjectives before them.
Watch Out When Describing of Body Parts
When describing body parts in French, the language uses pronominal verbs instead of possessive adjectives. For example:
- Je me brosse les dents. – I brush my teeth.
- Je me suis cassé le bras. – I broke my arm.
The Exception of Feminine Possessive Adjectives and Vowels
You may have noticed that there are two versions for French possessive adjectives next to feminine singular. That’s because “ma,” ”ta,” and “sa” (my, your, and his/her) cannot be used preceding a noun that starts with a vowel. Just like the versions of the article “the,” “le” and “la” drop a letter and become “l” when they come before a noun that starts with a vowel. However, the three feminine possessive adjectives change completely instead of just dropping a letter.
However, they do not introduce an entirely new form. A feminine possessive adjective in the French language transforms itself into a male possessive adjective when it appears before a feminine noun that starts with a vowel.
In simple terms, ma (my), becomes mon, ta (your) becomes ton, and sa (his/her) becomes son before nouns that begin with vowels.
Take a look at the following examples of possessive adjectives changing shape in French.
- C’est mon amie. – She’s my friend.
- Je vais à ton école. – I go to your school.
- C’est son idée. – It’s his/her idea.
“C’est mon amie” instead of “c’est ma amie” because we cannot put “ma” in front of “amie” which starts with a vowel. Even though “école” is female, but we cannot use “ta” in front of it because it starts with a vowel. Similarly, although “idée” is feminine, we cannot put ”sa” in front of it because of the vowel, and so, we use “son.”
Examples of French Possessive Adjectives in Context
Having established that French possessive adjectives aren’t only affected by gender but by plurality or singularity of the noun, let us look at them in active sentences. Consider the sentence below.
That’s my book. or That’s my car.
Since book is le livre in French, it’s a masculin noun. So, for the singular object, we need to use the masculin version. And la voiture for car is feminin. A possessive adjective remains the same for plural words in French regardless of whether the possessed noun is male or female.
My – Mon, Ma, Mes
- C’est mon livre. – That’s my book. (Singular male object)
- C’est ma voiture. – That’s my car. (Singular female object)
- Ce sont mes livres. – Those books are mine. (Plural male object)
Your – Ton, Ta, Tes
- C’est ton livre. – That’s your book. (Singular male object)
- C’est ta voiture. – That’s your car. (Singular female object)
- Ce sont tes livres. – Those are your books. (Plural male object)
His/Her – Son, Sa, Ses
The French language does not distinguish between the third person tense possessive adjectives, “his” and “her” like in the English language.
Examples are, “son” can be used to mean “his” or “her” for masculine nouns that follow the adjective, and “sa” can mean “his” or “her” for feminine nouns that follow the adjective. For plural nouns that follow the adjective, “ses” means “his” or “hers,” both masculine and feminine nouns in plurality. For example;
- C’est son livre. That’s his/her book.
- C’est sa voiture. That’s his/her car.
Our – Notre, Nos
In the case of the possessive noun “our,” the French language uses “notre” for singular nouns following the adjective, and “nos” in case the noun that follows the adjective is plural. For example;
- C’est notre livre. – It’s our book.
- Voilà notre livre. – There’s our book.
- Ce sont nos livres. – Those are our books.
Your – Votre, Vos
Understanding possessive adjectives become even more straightforward. The French language uses “votre” to say that something belongs to all of you, for both male and female noun scenarios. In case the noun is plural, the French word to use is “vos.”
- C’est votre livre. – That is your book.
- C’est votre livre. – That’s your book.
- Ce sont vos livres. – These are your books.
Their – Leur, Leurs
Finally, there is the possessive adjective “their,” which translates to “leur” for both male and female nouns in the singular form. The plural form leurs can be used for both masculine and feminine versions of “their.”
- C’est leur stylo. – It’s their pen.
- C’est leur television. – It’s their television.
- Ce sont leurs televisions. – These are their televisions.
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French possessive adjectives change according to the gender and number of the noun. You can now use them confidently in French sentences. But, there’s a lot more to French grammar that you will need to become fluent in French. If you want to master them in a natural environment, you need to download OptiLingo.
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