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.
(masculine singular) mon stylo
- my pen
(feminine singular) ma montre
- my watch
(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
- my (female) friend
(masculine singular) ton stylo
- your pen
(feminine singular) ta montre
- your watch
(plural) tes livres
- your books
When a feminine noun begins with a vowel, the masculine possessive adjective is needed:
- your (female) friend
Lesson: Tu vs vous
HIS / HER / ITS
(masculine singular) son stylo
- his, her, its pen
(feminine singular) sa montre
- his, her, its watch
(plural) ses livres
- his, her, its books
When a feminine noun begins with a vowel, the masculine possessive adjective is used:
- his, her, its (female) friend
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
, 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