"She is holding her little brother in her arms."

Translation:Elle tient son petit frère dans ses bras.

April 8, 2018

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Couldn't it be "dans les bras?" I thought when it was obvious whose arms are being spoken about, that "les" is used.


It can, but be aware that "tenir dans ses bras" is a fixed phrase, where the possessive emphasizes the caring/loving character of the gesture.


Is this the same reason that the possessive is used in the sentence " Il a mis sa main sur son coeur?


The verb has a role as well. With the verb "tenir" or "mettre", you may have a choice, but with the verb "avoir", the possessives are not used:

  • La main sur le coeur (fixed), il a fait un long discours.
  • Il a la main sur le coeur et les pieds sur terre (both fixed)
  • Il a le coeur sur la main (fixed) = his heart on his sleeve.
  • Il a mis la/sa main dans sa poche.
  • Elle a son petit frère dans les bras.
  • Elle tient son petit frère dans les/ses bras.
  • Elle a des fleurs plein les bras (fixed).
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