French possessive adjectives

French Possessive Adjectives: A Beginner’s Guide

Introduction

Welcome, dear students, to our lesson on French Possessive Adjectives. Today, we will explore these unique elements of the French language which are used to indicate ownership or relation. Remember, understanding possessive adjectives is crucial for expressing relationships between people and things in French.

Understanding French Possessive Adjectives

In French, possessive adjectives agree in gender (masculine, feminine) and number (singular, plural) with the noun they describe, not with the owner. This is different from English, where the adjective only reflects the owner.

Singular Forms of French Possessive Adjectives

  • Masculine:
    • “mon” (my) for masculine nouns. Example: “mon livre” (my book).
    • “ton” (your) for masculine nouns. Example: “ton chien” (your dog).
    • “son” (his/her) for masculine nouns. Example: “son vélo” (his/her bike).
  • Feminine:
    • “ma” (my) for feminine nouns. Example: “ma voiture” (my car).
    • “ta” (your) for feminine nouns. Example: “ta maison” (your house).
    • “sa” (his/her) for feminine nouns. Example: “sa robe” (his/her dress).

Note: Before a feminine noun starting with a vowel or silent ‘h’, use “mon”, “ton”, or “son” to avoid a hiatus. For example, “mon amie” (my friend – feminine).

Plural Forms

  • For all genders:
    • “mes” (my) for plural nouns. Example: “mes amis” (my friends).
    • “tes” (your) for plural nouns. Example: “tes livres” (your books).
    • “ses” (his/her) for plural nouns. Example: “ses chaussures” (his/her shoes).
Owner Singular (Masculine) Singular (Feminine) Singular (Before Vowel or Silent ‘h’) Plural (All Genders)
I (My) mon ma mon mes
You (Your) [singular, informal] ton ta ton tes
He/She (His/Her) son sa son ses
We (Our) notre notre notre nos
You (Your) [plural or formal] votre votre votre vos
They (Their) leur leur leur leurs

This table should help you quickly identify the correct possessive adjective in French based on the owner, the gender, and the number of the noun. Remember, the gender and number of the noun (not the owner) determine the form of the possessive adjective in French.

Differences from English

  1. Gender Agreement: In English, possessive adjectives do not change according to the object’s gender. For instance, “his car” and “his house” use “his” regardless of the gender of “car” or “house.”
  2. Plurality: In English, the possessive adjective changes only based on the owner (his/her/their), not the noun.

In French, a unique aspect arises when using the possessive adjectives “mon” (my), “ton” (your), and “son” (his/her) with feminine nouns that begin with a vowel or a silent ‘h’. Normally, these adjectives would change to “ma”, “ta”, and “sa” respectively for feminine nouns. However, to avoid the awkward sound caused by the vowel-on-vowel or vowel-on-silent ‘h’ collision, “mon”, “ton”, and “son” are used instead, regardless of the noun’s gender.

This rule is primarily for ease of pronunciation. In French, smooth flow in speech is often prioritized, and this adjustment helps to maintain a fluid and clear pronunciation.

For example:

  • “mon amie” (my friend – feminine) instead of “ma amie”.
  • “ton école” (your school – feminine) instead of “ta école”.
  • “son horloge” (his/her clock – feminine) instead of “sa horloge”.

It’s important to note that this adjustment is purely phonetic and does not change the gender of the noun. “Amie” is still feminine, but we use “mon” instead of “ma” for smoother pronunciation.

PRACTICE the French possessive adjectives

Exercise 1: Choose the Correct Possessive Adjective

Complete the following sentences with the correct possessive adjective in French.

  1. ______ (my) frère mesure 1 mètre 80.
  2. J’aime ______ (her) chaussures.
  3. Ils rencontrent ______ (their) voisine pour la première fois.
  4. ______ (our) école est très grande.
  5. Je cherche _____ (my) clés.
answers
  1. Mon frère mesure 1 mètre 80.
  2. J’aime ses chaussures.
  3. Ils rencontrent leur voisine pour la première fois.
  4. Notre école est très grande.
  5. Je cherche mes clés.

➡︎ Translation :

  1. My brother is 1 meter 80 tall.
  2. I like his/her shoes.
  3. They are meeting their neighbor for the first time.
  4. Our school is very big.
  5. I am looking for my keys.

Exercise 2: Translate into French

Translate the following sentences into French.

  1. Their cats are cute.
  2. I like your (singular, informal) garden.
  3. She is in her bedroom.
  4. We are going to see our grandmother.
  5. Do you (plural or formal) have your passports?
answers
  1. Leurs chats sont mignons.
  2. J’aime ton jardin.
  3. Elle est dans sa chambre.
  4. Nous allons voir notre grand-mère.
  5. Avez-vous vos passeports ?

Exercise 3: Complete with ‘son, sa, ses’

Complete the following text with ‘son’, ‘sa’, or ‘ses’.

  1. Marie regarde ______ (her) montre.
  2. Elle pose ______ (her) sac et quitte ______ (her) appartement.
  3. Elle rencontre ______ (her) amis au café.
  4. Marie parle de ______ (her) travail et de ______ (her) famille.
answers
  1. Marie regarde sa montre.
  2. Elle pose son sac et quitte son appartement.
  3. Elle rencontre ses amis au café.
  4. Marie parle de son travail et de sa famille.

➡︎ Translation :

  1. Marie looks at her watch.
  2. She puts down her bag and leaves her apartment.
  3. She meets her friends at the café.
  4. Marie talks about her job and her family.

Exercise 4: Complete with ‘mon, ma, mes’

Complete the following text with ‘mon’, ‘ma’, or ‘mes’.”

  1. Je cherche ______ (my) clés.
  2. J’ouvre ______ (my) voiture.
  3. ______ (my) amis m’invitent.
  4. Nous allons à ______ (my) bureau ensemble.
  5. Je retrouve _______ (my) clés dans _______ (my) école.
answers
  1. Je cherche mes clés.
  2. J’ouvre ma voiture.
  3. Mes amis m’invitent.
  4. Nous allons à mon bureau ensemble.
  5. Je retrouve mes clés dans mon école.

➡︎ Translation :

  1. I am looking for my keys.
  2. I open my car.
  3. My friends invite me.
  4. We are going to my office together.
  5. I find my keys in my school.

Exercise 5: Complete with ‘votre, vos’

Complete the following text with ‘votre’ or ‘vos’.

  1. Bonjour,  ______ (your, plural or formal) nom, s’il vous plaît ?
  2. ______ (Your, plural or formal) enfants sont-ils à l’école ?
  3. J’ai des questions sur ______ (your, plural or formal) projet.
  4. Avez-vous ______ (your, plural or formal) documents ?
  5. Nous allons visiter ______ (your, plural or formal) entreprise demain.
answers
  1. Bonjour,  votre nom, s’il vous plaît ?
  2. Vos enfants sont-ils à l’école ?
  3. J’ai des questions sur votre projet.
  4. Avez-vous vos documents ?
  5. Nous allons visiter votre  entreprise demain.

➡︎ Translation :

  1. Hello, your name, please?
  2. Are your children at school?
  3. I have some questions about your project.
  4. Do you have your documents?
  5. We are going to visit your company tomorrow.

Vocabulary used in the lesson on French possessive adjectives.

Vocabulary (French) Translation (English)
le frère (m) the brother
mesurer to measure
le mètre (m) the meter
les chaussures (f) the shoes
rencontrer to meet
la voisine (f) the neighbor (feminine)
l’école (f) the school
les clés (f) the keys
les chats (m) the cats
mignon cute
le jardin (m) the garden
la chambre (f) the bedroom
aller to go
la grand-mère (f) the grandmother
les passeports (m) the passports
la montre (f) the watch
le sac (m) the bag
l’appartement (m) the apartment
les amis (m) the friends
le café (m) the café
le travail (m) the work
la famille (f) the family
la voiture (f) the car
inviter to invite
le bureau (m) the office
l’école (f) the school
le nom (m) the name
les enfants (m) the children
le projet (m) the project
les documents (m) the documents
l’entreprise (f) the company

previous lessons

We also recommend this lesson in French on the same topic.

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