Possessive de

French’s possessive construction

French possessive de
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In English, we use ‘s (apostrophe s) to indicate that one noun possesses another. The French equivalent is the preposition de, with the order of the nouns reversed.

Par exemple…

la lettre de Sandrine Sandrine’s letter
les cafés de France France’s cafés

Literally, "the letter of Sandrine" and "the cafés of France.”

When the owner is not a proper name, it must be preceded by a modifier, such as an article, possessive adjective, or demonstrative adjective.

Par exemple…

le travail de l’ingénieur the engineer’s work
les voitures de ma famille my family’s cars
la lettre de cette fille this girl’s letter

 The possessive de can’t be used with stressed pronouns; they require the possessive à.

When the owner is plural, as signified by s’ (s apostrophe) in English, the French modifier must be plural.

Par exemple…

la lettre de ces filles these girls’ letter
les voitures de mes enfants my kids’ cars

As always, de must contract with the definite articles le and les.

les cafés du pays the country’s cafés
le travail des ingénieurs the engineers’ work

 The possessive de construction is also equivalent to a descriptive noun plus noun in English.

Par exemple…

les clés de voiture car keys
le livre de français French book
du jus d’orange orange juice

French is sometimes more precise thanks to this construction, as it makes a distinction that is missing in English.

le livre de français
(French grammar book)
vsle livre français
(book written in French)
 French book
du jus d’orange
(juice from oranges)
vsdu jus orange
(orange-colored juice)
 orange juice
  
Quiz: Possessive de

 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

Learn Italian In italiano

Learn English In English

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French possession with de

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