So confused about "mine"

I am doing lesson 2 in the "possesifs" skill set in "English for French speakers"

I understand the "à moi" construction for "mine" but "mein" has me SO confused.

I just did the lesson 3 or 4 times and took notes. Other than understanding mien/mienne are masculine/feminine, I don't know when I should use mien, le mien, mienne, la mienne, or when I have to use à moi.

Here is what Duolingo says.

The child is mine
L'enfant est mien - right
L'enfant est le mien - right
L'enfant est mienne - right
L'enfant est la mienne - right

She is mine
Elle est mienne - right
Elle est la mienne - wrong
C'est mienne - right
C'est la mienne - right

He is mine
Il est mien - right
Il est le mien - wrong
C'est mien - wrong
C'est le mien - right

The book is mine
Le livre est mien - right
Le livre est le mien - wrong

The cat is mine
Le chat est mien - wrong
Le chat est le mien - wrong
La chatte est mienne - wrong
La chatte est la mienne - wrong

Can someone please explain the use of mien/mienne and when you need le/la to go with it? A good link would be just as good if you can find one and don't feel like typing stuff out.

March 12, 2016


There are several points of interest here:

  • "the child is mine" will not translate to "l'enfant est mien", because "mien" (and other possessives) are no longer used without a definite article in modern French. Only in old poetry and literature can you still find a possessive pronoun without a definite article.

  • "le XX est mien" has been replaced by "le XX est à moi"

  • "le XX est le mien" is not correct either, since "le" twice blurs the very meaning of this sentence. Considering that "le XX" is specific (the XX), it cannot be specified a second time. If there were a choice between several XX, then you could say "ce XX est le mien". If there is no choice, the only correct construction is "le XX est à moi".

So, back to your examples:

  • the child is mine = l'enfant est à moi
  • she is mine = elle est à moi (+ elle m'appartient)
  • he is mine = il est à moi (+ il m'appartient)
  • the book is mine = le livre est à moi - le livre m'appartient
  • the cat is mine = le chat est à moi - le chat m'appartient

In addition:

  • this/that child is mine = cet enfant est à moi/le mien
  • this/that book is mine = ce livre est à moi/le mien/m'appartient
  • this/that cat is mine = ce chat est à moi/le mien/m'appartient
  • it is mine = il est à moi, elle est à moi, c'est le mien, c'est la mienne, c'est à moi

Note: "il est le...", "elle est la...", "ils sont les..." and "elles sont les..." still need to be replaced by "c'est le..." in singular and "ce sont les..." in plural, according to the rule about modified nouns after the verb "être" in 3rd person singular and plural.

March 12, 2016

Merci, Sitesurf, mille fois merci !
Á étudier :)

Edit: I've read your response three times now and it keeps getting clearer and clearer. Thank you so much!!

March 12, 2016

Things have changed because unlike Lrtward, for me Duo does no longer accept "l'enfant est le mien" or "l'enfant est mien", or at least both were rejected for me today. Is French trying to get rid of "le mien/tien/etc" all together? Looking at your examples it seems you're suggesting that construction is either wrong or not the first choice. Is there any situation where using "le mien" is preferred or the only correct answer (instead of à moi)?

Obviously it is still used quite a bit, for example in (can't link the specific page for some reason, but if you just put in "est le mien" or "est la mienne" you get a bunch of example sentences).

October 23, 2016

If you read again what I explained earlier, you will see why those translations are obsolete in contemporary French, which means that you will still find them in literature, poetry or said/written for stylistic purposes.

Possessive pronouns are still alive and well, but there are constructions where they are rarely or no longer used.

Constructions like "l'enfant est mien" or "il est le mien" have been replaced by "cet enfant est le mien" and "c'est le mien", respectively.

October 24, 2016

Sitesurf, in the event that I want to say "the books are mine and the cat is hers", are only "à moi" and "à elle" available, and not "les miens" and "le sien"?

And if so, how would you explain the reason?

Here we have a choice between specific items that happen to be of two different kinds, so I don't see the same logic necessarily applying for why the definite article couldn't be repeated. Or is it simply that the definite article cannot be repeated regardless of whether there's a choice, but a choice between similar objects provides an option ("ce") that simply doesn't exist when the objects are not similar, which then allows the definite article to be used in the possessive phrase?

I ask partly because on Linguee I found the following two sentences:

  • Nous te donnons l'information, et l'aventure est la tienne.
  • L'argent est le mien et l'or est le mien, dit le Seigneur des armées. (Edit: This seems to be a bible verse but all other versions I've found use "à moi" instead of "le mien".)

I'm wondering if these are wrong or if there are any considerations I may be missing.

July 19, 2017

Starting from the two examples you found on Linguee, this is my analysis:

Both show stylistic effects, such turn of phrases you can read of hear for book or film titles, or advertising/political slogans.

Both are half way from literary to contemporary French.

The literary construction used to be "l'aventure est mienne", or "l'argent est mien, l'or est mien" with "mienne/mien" used as adjectives (no definite article to form the possessive pronoun).

The usual rule applies in contemporary French:

  • cette aventure est la tienne/à toi; cet argent/cet or est le mien/à moi (choice)
  • l'aventure est à toi; l'argent/l'or est à moi (no choice)

In any event, your two examples are unusual in contemporary French, also because all three nouns are ambiguous with their definite article (specific or general?).

In speech, other turns can be used:

  • l'aventure, c'est la tienne - l'argent, c'est le mien, l'or, c'est le mien.
  • l'aventure, elle est à toi - l'argent, il est à moi, l'or, il est à moi
  • cette aventure, c'est la tienne - cet argent, c'est le mien, cet or, c'est le mien
  • cette aventure, elle est à toi - cet argent, il est à moi, cet or, il est à moi.
  • c'est ton aventure
  • c'est mon argent, c'est mon or
July 22, 2017

Merci bien.

August 10, 2017

Thanks Sitesurf. This is a really useful and helpful response. One pointer from me, though, is that using the word "for" as a substitute for "because" in English isn't common nowadays and can potentially cause confusion.

One pointer doesn't repay many pointers but it's a start! :)

March 13, 2016


Thanks for this explanation which is very helpful. Based on using your explanation are the following correct:

Clarification 1

ce sandwich est le sien - this sandwich is his in the situation where there is more than one sandwich to choose from. But you cannot use a possessive pronoun if there is no choice

ce sandwich est à lui - this sandwich is his in the situation where there is only one sandwich or there are a number of sandwiches.

Clarification 2

How do I translate the sentence: Which ones are yours ? Is it:

Lesquels sont les vôtres ? or lesquels sont à vous ?

or are both correct ?

Clarification 3

You are in a bedroom and on the bed are five items of clothing, namely: a coat, a dress, a black cap, a blue cap and a tie. Then someone asks you Which ones are yours ? If the black cap is yours then you can answer in a number of ways such as:

le casquette noire est à moi but not la casquette noire est la mienne because although there is a choice of items there is only one black cap.

la casquette noire, c'est la mienne


cette casquette est la mienne (pointing to the black cap)


cette casquette est à moi (pointing to the black cap)

clarification 4

When contrasting two sets of things possessed then a possessive pronoun is used


ces livres sont les vôtres, les miens sont en bas - These books are yours, mine are downstairs.

or is it also valid to say

ces livres sont à vous, les miens sont en bas

July 16, 2017


  • ce sandwich est le sien / ce sandwich est à lui: choice among several
  • le sandwich est à lui : one only


  • which (ones) are yours? = lesquels/lesquelles sont à toi/vous ? or lesquels/lesquelles sont les vôtres/tiens/tiennes ?


  • la casquette noire est à moi
  • la casquette noire, c'est la mienne
  • cette casquette (noire) est la mienne/à moi
  • cette casquette-ci est la mienne/à moi
  • cette casquette-là est la mienne/à moi


  • ces livres (-ci/-là) sont à toi/à vous/les miens/les vôtres, les miens sont en bas
July 18, 2017


July 18, 2017

This is a great question and a well-written one. I wish there are more questions like this. Thanks. Here are my 5 lingots.

BTW, I thought you're a moderator, aren't you?

March 12, 2016

She IS a moderator, but only in the Spanish and English forums.

March 12, 2016

Thank you! Yep, I'm a mod but as Kitten_Polyglot said, only in Spanish and English. I'm not quite literate in French and utterly useless everywhere else :)

March 12, 2016

I'm not sure, but maybe this could help.

March 12, 2016

Thank you for responding. I did read through that page, but to me it looks like mien/mienne should always be accompanied by le/la (le mien, la mienne) and that they should never stand alone. The sentence discussions had some arguments about whether le/la should or shouldn't be used, and there was a lot of spam in them so they weren't very illuminating (at least the few I chose to read).

And I can't figure out why sometimes le mien is acceptable and other times you have to use à moi. One of the sentence discussions suggested that le mien is for things that are yours but that you don't own, like your children, but that doesn't seem to be the case 100% of the time.

I suspect that the course needs some answers added to it, but I don't want to make any assumptions.

Thanks again for the link.

March 12, 2016

It is beacause you must avoid writing two times the subject. Il est le mien ---- C'est le mien OR Il est à moi.

And yes, mien/mienne must come with le/la or else they don't work except if the subject is already here.

C'est mien doesn't work as the C'est is meant to let you write the subject after the verb.

For the Le chat est à moi rule, I really don't know why it is like that. I am going to search and try to give you the grammar rule about it.

March 12, 2016

Just to go a tad further, please note it is possible to elude le or la when talking about someone, especially a girl, you are romantically involved with, in literary speech: Elle est mienne (She's mine) or Je l'ai fait mienne (meaning: I married her) work fine.

Edit: And, now that I think about it, it can also apply in a humoristic way to objects you finally obtained. La robe que je voulais... Elle est enfin mienne!

March 12, 2016

So why doesn't le chat est mien work? It doesn't have two "le."

March 12, 2016

This is pure conjecture, but it seems to me that eluding le or la implies a strong connection to the object of the verb, hence the possibility of doing so in romantic contexts, more often than not when it concerns a woman. Saying le chat est mien thus sounds a bit strange from that point of view. But I don't have any formal evidence of this, only my own experience with this grammatical structure.

March 12, 2016

Thank you all Chockeyproh, lazouave, and Johnny446750 for an interesting and illuminating discussion.

I can't believe that LE livre est LE mein did not seem odd to me earlier this morning. I guess when you're learning a new language you're willing to accept anything at first :)

Merci a tous :)

March 12, 2016

This answers parts of your questions.

It still doesn't explain why Le chat est mien is wrong, but we know now that ce chat est le mien is correct.

March 12, 2016

Ooohhh, merci ! That is an excellent discussion.

March 12, 2016

I'm confused. I'm at the basics or just ahead but some of the words are confusing.

March 13, 2016

If you need help, just let us know.

The basic idea is that most words have singular/plural masculine/feminine forms. On top of that, like the verb to be in English, every french verb has different forms for I, you, he/she/it, we and they. It does seem a lot to learn, but after a while you will recognize the patterns. After that, it's pretty easy.

Just let us know exactly what you're confused about and we can try to help you with it.

March 13, 2016

It's been interesting reading the replies to this question and it's helped me, too. I always struggle with things like this because "L'enfant est le mien" literally translates to "The child is the mine" which makes no sense in English, so it's tricky for me.

March 13, 2016

I have the same problem. One thing that is confusing about French, is that when you read a sentence, it sounds weird at first. Like, "Que lit-elle?", reads as "What is reading she?", but it`s actually "What is she reading?" I could use a lot of help on this.

March 15, 2016

In "foreign languages", there is "foreign", which means "different". Different logic, different grammar, different pronunciation, different spelling, different syntax...

This is why it takes some time to let go of your own logic and adopt the target language's mindset.

March 15, 2016

Merci. I am too used to English!

March 16, 2016

You said that you could use a lot of help on this, so what is it you need exactly on this?

March 16, 2016


March 16, 2016

I could use hep in knowing how to switch words around like the sentence like in the example I used in my other comment.

March 16, 2016

You posted this message under the wrong branch. You meant to post it under Sitesurf's comment, didn't you?

The simplest way to think about switching words is to pretend all french verbs are "can, have, could, would" of English. So when you ask a question, you start with "Can I...?" or "Have you...?" See, we switch words too. So in french, it would be "lit-elle...?"

March 16, 2016
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