"He did not believe her words."
Translation:Il n'a pas cru ses paroles.
"Paroles" and "mots" are both listed as acceptable translations here. Are there times when they aren't interchangeable? I feel like I see the two in different contexts, but haven't yet been able to work out a consistent logic.
Paroles (fem) are used to mean lyrics.
Paroles is a plural used to express the idea of speech (a flow of words as units).
In singular, it has to do with promise/honor: you have my word = tu as ma parole
Some expressions use one or the other: "les paroles/les mots s'envolent, les écrits restent".
In "il n'a pas cru ses paroles", does the position of "pas" necessarily have to be before the verb? I had "pas cru" inverted and thats apparently a big no-no.
yes, "pas" falls between the auxiliary and the past participle in all composed tenses (passé composé, plus que parfait, passé antérieur, futur antérieur...)
Yes, I'm paid on a per word basis, so I'm making loads of money! (just kidding)
I do not understand why "ses paroles" and not "son paroles" or even "sa paroles."
The French possessives "son, sa, ses" are adjectives. As adjectives, they agree in gender and number with the noun they modify:
- son fils = his/her son - masculine singular adjective + noun
- sa fille = his/her daughter - feminine singular adjective + noun
- ses enfants = his/her children - plural adjective + noun
What you propose is a deduction, not a translation, I'm afraid. Although you are not wrong with the meaning, you should try to translate as closely as possible to the original sentence.