The key to understanding Possessive adjectives in French

1. What is a possessive adjective?

Possessive adjectives are words used in French to tell who is the owner of something or someone, even if we cannot really speak about owning people.

Example :

  • C’est mon stylo => It’s my pen

  • Ce sont vos enfants? Are these your children ?

2. How to say my, your, his, her, our, or their in French?

There are different ways of saying in French the 7 English possessive adjectives. For instance,

  • The possessive My can be translated as mon, ma, or mes.

  • Your can be expressed as  ton, ta, tes, votre or vos

  • His/her can be translated as son, sa, ses

  • Our can be said as notre, nos

  • Their can be translated as leur, leurs.

Below is an infographic summarizing the different possessives depending on the gender and number. Feel free to pin it and come back whenever you want.

French possessive adjectives.jpg

3. How do we use the French possessive adjectives?

The possessive adjective is a determiner. It is placed just before the noun. Unlike in English where you have only 7 possessive adjectives, in French, you have up to  15. Like most of the adjectives in French, the possessive adjective agrees in number and gender with the noun that comes after it.

 

Example :

  • Ma mère (feminine, singular) =>  My mother

  • Mon père (masculine, singular) => My father

  • Mes parents (plural) => My parents

It is important to note that the choice of the possessive adjective doesn’t depend on the person who is the owner but on the noun or person we are referring to.

Example

Nathalie est une fille sympathique. Son père est français et sa mère est indienne.

As you can see, Nathalie is a girl, but I am not using the possessive “Sa” for everything. I am using Son père = her father and sa mère = her mother. So, always identify the gender of the noun the possessive refers to.

​4. Possessive adjectives placed before a vowel

When the female possessive adjectives ma - ta - sa is placed before a noun starting with a vowel, you should use the masculine adjectives mon - ton - son. Otherwise, it sounds awkward.

Example 

  • Ma amie ⛔

  • Mon Amie 👍

​5. Possessive adjectives practice exercise

Here is a beginner-friendly exercise for practicing possessive adjectives in French language. It should help you clear the doubt about the use of the possessives.

Happy practicing!

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Demonstrative adjectives

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