Possessive Adjectives: Singular Possessors

Ma musique, notre café - French possessive adjectives
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Adjectifs possessifs pour propriétaires singuliers

Grammatically speaking, French has three singular possessors because it has just three* singular grammatical persons:

1st person   je I
2nd person   tu you
3rd person   il
elle
on
he
she
one

 In French, each of the three* grammatical possessors has three different possessive adjectives, depending on whether the possession is masculine singular, feminine singular, or plural. Therefore, there are a total of 9 French possessive adjectives for the three singular possessors:

  Masculine singular Feminine singular  Plural
my mon  ma   mes
your (tu form) ton  ta   tes
his, her, its son  sa   ses

Par exemple…

Je suis avec mon frère. I’m with my brother.
J’écoute ma musique. I’m listening to my music.
J’ai perdu mes clés. I lost my keys.

 Remember: The gender of the owner is irrelevant. Men and women both say mon travail (my job) and ma voiture (my car), because travail is masculine and voiture is feminine.

 Euphony

When a feminine singular noun begins with a vowel or h muet, the masculine adjective is used to avoid a hiatus – learn more.

ma idée mon idée   my idea
ta histoire ton histoire   your story
sa auto son auto   his/her car

This is also the case when an adjective that comes between the possessive and the noun begins with a vowel or mute h …

ma autre idée mon autre idée   my other idea
ta unique histoire ton unique histoire   your only story
sa ancienne auto son ancienne auto   his/her old car

… even if the noun itself begins with a consonant.

ma autre projet mon autre projet   my other project
ta unique fille ton unique fille   your only daughter
sa ancienne voiture son ancienne voiture   his/her old car

Note that an adjective starting with a consonant uses the normal possessive adjective – it’s only the first letter of the word that immediately follows the possessive that dictates whether euphony is required.

mon deuxième idée ma deuxième idée   my second idea
ton bonne histoire ta bonne histoire   your good story
son nouvelle auto sa nouvelle auto   his/her new car

 * Fais gaffe !

As you can see, the third person has three distinct subjects, and in English, there’s a different possessive adjective for each of those subjects. In French, however, this is where it gets really tricky: grammatically speaking, there is only one third person owner, so all three third-person singular possessors use the same possessive adjectives. There is no distinction between his, her, and its; again, the choice of possessive adjective depends on the gender and number of the possession itself. The gender of the owner is completely irrelevant, grammatically speaking.

Par exemple…

Je suis avec son frère. I’m with his / her brother.
J’écoute sa musique. I’m listening to his / her music.
J’ai perdu ses clés. I lost his / her keys.

If you ever do need to make the distinction, you can use the preposition à plus a stressed pronoun:

  • à lui – "belonging to him"
  • à elle – "belonging to her"

Par exemple…

son frère à lui   his brother
son frère à elle   her brother

More French Possessive Adjectives

 Possessive Adjective Quizzes

Quizzes on possessive adjectives vs possessive pronouns

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 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

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