Possessive Adjectives

Ma musique, notre café - French possessive adjectives
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Adjectifs possessifs

French possessive adjectives are used in front of nouns to indicate to whom or to what those nouns belong. They’re more complicated than English possessive adjectives because there are different forms depending on gender and number.

Par exemple…

Nous écoutons ma musique. We’re listening to my music.
Où est mon frère ? Where is my brother?
J’ai perdu mes clés. I lost my keys.

Characteristics of French possessive adjectives

  1. Used in place of an article, not with one
  2. Placed directly in front of a noun or an adjective + noun
  3. Must agree with the possessed noun in number and sometimes gender
  4. Possessive adjective + noun can be replaced by a possessive pronoun

French has 15 different possessive adjectives

 Singular Plural
 Masculine Feminine Before vowel
my monma mon mes
your (tu form) tonta ton tes
his, her, its sonsa son ses
our notre notre notre nos
your (vous form)  votre votre votre vos
their leur leur leur leurs

+ The singular adjectives have three forms each:

  1. Masculine singular: mon, ton, son
  2. Feminine singular: ma, ta, sa
  3. Plural: mes, tes, ses

Par exemple…

mon frère   my brother
ta sœur   your sister
ses amis   his friends

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

Par exemple…

ma idée mon idée   my idea
sa unique fille son unique fille   his / her only daughter

  Fais gaffe !

In French, the gender of the possessive adjective must agree with the gender of the noun possessed, not that of the possessor. Men and women both say mon travail (my job) and ma voiture (my car), because travail is masculine and voiture is feminine. This is particularly tricky for the third person singular, where English uses gender differently: we say "his car" and "her car," but in French, both of those must be translated by sa voiture. The gender of the owner is completely irrelevant, grammatically speaking.

Par exemple…

son fils   his or her son
sa fille   his or her daughter

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 fils à lui   his son
son fils à elle   her son

+ The plural possessive adjectives have only two forms:

  1. Singular: notre, votre, leur
  2. Plural: nos, vos, leurs

  French vs English

French and English possessive adjectives are used pretty much in the same way, with just a few key differences.

1) In a list of nouns, the French possessive adjective must be used in front of each one.

Par exemple…

mon fils, ma fille et mes petits-enfants   my son, daughter, and grandchildren
notre maison et nos voitures   our house and cars

 Note that notre maison is singular because there is only one house that we share, while nos voitures is plural because we each have a car.

2) When body parts are involved, the French tend to avoid the possessive adjective in favor of pronominal verbs.

Par exemple…

Je me brosse les dents.   I’m brushing my teeth.
Il s’est cassé le bras.   He broke his arm.

 French Possessive Adjective Quizzes

Possessive adjectives vs possessive pronouns: Les enfants au resto

Note: You must be logged into your Progress with Lawless French account to take these tests. If you don’t have one, sign up – it’s free!

 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

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Mon, ma, mes, notre, nos French possessive adjectives

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