French parts of the body
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Le corps

Knowing the parts of the body can come in handy when playing sports, clothes shopping, seeing the doctor, and more. Learn how to talk about your body in French, from head to toe.

le corps body
des cheveux hair
une tĂŞte head
un crâne skull, head
un visage face
un Ĺ“il
des yeux
un nez nose
une joue cheek
une bouche
une gueule
une lèvre lip
une dent tooth
une oreille ear
un cou neck
une gorge throat
une poitrine chest
un cĹ“ur heart
un estomac  stomach
un bras arm
une Ă©paule shoulder
un coude elbow
un poignet wrist
une main hand
un doigt finger
un ongle fingernail
un pouce thumb
un dos back
une jambe leg
un genou knee
une cheville ankle
un pied foot
un orteil toe

 In French, possessive adjectives are usually not used to indicate the owner of any given body part. Instead, we use a reflexive pronoun plus a definite article.

Par exemple…

Je me lave le visage. I’m washing my face.
Quand est-ce que tu t’es cassĂ© le bras ? When did you break your arm?

But of course there are exceptions: Using possessive adjectives with parts of the body

 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

Learn Italian In italiano

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Parts of the body in French

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10 Responses

  1. Helen Whelan Whelan 19 January 2018 / 13:27

    Which is correct for saying, I wish my hair was thick:
    “Je souhaite que les cheveux soient Ă©pais” or,
    ” Je souhaite que les cheveux me soient epais?”

    I’m wondering if you need reflexive pronouns in cases like this and how that works if you’re using the subjunctive.

    Thank you!

    • lkl 21 January 2018 / 10:54

      No, you’d just use the possessive adjective in this case: Je souhaite que mes cheveux soient Ă©pais.

      Reflexive pronouns are used in all verb tenses/moods (assuming that the verb is pronominal).

      Tu vas t’en aller ?
      Il faut que tu t’en ailles.
      Il a fallu que tu t’en sois allĂ©.


  2. David Au 1 February 2017 / 22:30

    Bonjour Laura, bonjour tout le monde!
    “Je leve les mains” (I raise my hands.)
    “Il se lave les mains” (He washes his hands.)
    The explanation for why the 2nd is reflexive is “an action done to a body part”, whereas, in the former, it is “an action done by or with a body part”. Is that correct? Merci Ă  l’avance !

  3. Ann 7 October 2014 / 17:49

    I have a question about the verb form in the example you give above, “Quand est-ce que tu t’es casse le bras?” (BTW, I know there should be an accent over the “e” in “casse” but I’m too lazy to look up how to get my keyboard to comply.) Isn’t the passe compose of casser formed with avoir, not etre? So wouldn’t it be “…tu t’as casse le bras?” What am I misunderstanding? Maybe this is not the passe compose. Or maybe the example contained a typo. Thank you for your help and your wonderful site. I will mention it to my Intermediate French classmates. And if you answer my question, I will definitely buy you a book from your wish list. (I’d planned to anyway!) Merci beaucoup!

    • lkl 7 October 2014 / 17:59

      You’re right that the auxiliary verb for casser is avoir, and that tu t’es cassĂ© is the passĂ© composĂ©. What’s different here is that the verb is not casser, but rather se casser: it’s pronominal, and all pronominal verbs require ĂŞtre in the compound tenses. Here are some lessons you might find helpful:

    • Ann 7 October 2014 / 18:03

      I just realized that the verb form in the passe compose is “se casser”–not casser, and that makes all the difference. Light dawns! Anyway, I’m going to your wish list now. Merci encore–if that’s an expression!

  4. Stephen 7 October 2014 / 7:28

    Do you use reflexive pronouns to refer to possessed body parts that are the direct or indirect object? Like “I am brushing her hair”?

    • lkl 7 October 2014 / 7:33

      Good question! No, because by definition reflexive pronouns refer to oneself. When talking about someone else’s body, the body part is the direct object and the owner is the indirect object: Je brosse les cheveux Ă  elleJe lui brosse les cheveux.