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French Possessive Adjectives - Adjectifs possessifs

Singular forms of French possessive adjectives

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French has three forms of the possessive for each singular grammatical person (I, you, he/she/it). The gender, number, and first letter of the noun possessed determine which form to use.

MY

   mon (masculine singular)  mon stylo - my pen
   ma (feminine singular)  ma montre - my watch
   mes (plural)  mes livres - my books

When a feminine noun begins with a vowel, the masculine possessive adjective is used, to avoid saying "ma amie", in which the flow of the sentence would be broken (learn more).

   mon amie - my (female) friend


YOUR (tu form)

   ton (masculine singular)  ton stylo - your pen
   ta (feminine singular)  ta montre - your watch
   tes (plural)  tes livres - your books

When a feminine noun begins with a vowel, the masculine possessive adjective is needed:

   ton amie - your (female) friend

Lesson: Tu vs vous


HIS / HER / ITS

   son (masculine singular)  son stylo - his, her, its pen
   sa (feminine singular)  sa montre - his, her, its watch
   ses (plural)  ses livres - his, her, its books

When a feminine noun begins with a vowel, the masculine possessive adjective is used:

   son amie - his, her, its (female) friend


Note: An important difference between French and English is that in French it is the gender of the noun that determines which form to use, not the gender of the subject. A man would say mon livre when talking about a book, and a woman would also say mon livre - the book is masculine, and therefore so is the possessive adjective, no matter who the book belongs to. Likewise, both men and women would say ma maison, because house is feminine in French - it doesn't matter whether the owner of the house is male or female.

This difference between English and French possessive adjectives can be particularly confusing when talking about him/her/it. Son, sa, and ses can each mean his, her, or its depending on the context. For example, son lit can mean his bed, her bed, or its bed (e.g., the dog's). If you need to stress the gender of the person the item belongs to, you can use à lui ("belonging to him") or à elle ("belonging to her"):

   C'est son livre, à elle.  It's her book.

   Voici sa monnaie, à lui.  Here's his change.


Homophones: Ces vs ses


Test on French possessive adjectives

Related lessons: French possession
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