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Grammatically, "sa" (or "son" or "ses") may mean either "his" or "her". However they will be understood in conversation by the context. Remember, the choice of "son" vs "sa" is based on the gender of the noun.
- son livre = his/her book (i.e., you can't say "sa livre")
sa pomme = his/her apple
For singular, masculine gender nouns, use "mon" (my), "ton" (your), "son" (his/her), "notre" (our), "votre" (your), and "leur" (their). The masculine "mon/ton/son" is also used before feminine gender nouns that begin with a vowel sound or a mute "H".
- For singular, feminine gender nouns, use "ma" (my), "ta" (your), "sa" (his/her), "notre" (our), "votre" (your), and "leur" (their)
- For plural nouns of either gender, use "mes" (my), "tes" (your), "ses" (his/her), "nos" (our), "vos" (your), and "leurs" (their).
Without context, we have to guess whether to use "his" or "her" for son/sa/ses. Sometimes the context of the phrase will help. When we need to be more specific, we can say "son livre à elle" = her book, or "sa pomme à lui" = his apple.
For more information, open this link in a browser: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_possessive.htm
This is correct, except it would be 'son chat' because 'chat' is masculine. In French, the gender of possessive adjectives is decided by the object, not the subject. So 'sa robe' doesn't mean 'her dress' by default. It can mean 'his dress' or 'its dress' depending on the context.
Mon - Ma - Mes (1st person) Ton - Ta - Tes (2nd person) Son - Sa - Ses (3rd person)
-on is masculine -a is feminine -es is plural regardless of gender.
And remember it's the gender (and number) of the object that determines the gender (and number) of the possessive adjective, not the gender of the subject. i.e. it doesn't matter who is doing the action. This is partly why knowing the gender of nouns is so important.
I am a native English speaker. Now in my experience, whenever there is a person (not an object) whose gender is undefined, you can use "they" and "their" as singular pronouns.
This is the way it historically has been, until the 19th century, when English started becoming an international language. The word "they" would always be learned first as a plural pronoun by foreigners learning English, which is probably where the common confusion stems from.
I argue that "their dress" should be an acceptable translation of "sa robe"
singular they "their dress" is a better translation than "his dress" or "her dress" because the french sentence doesn't refer to the gender of the dress owner... forcing us to use his or hers adds information at random to the translation that isn't there in the source. not to mention the fact that i use singular they in my regular speech and having to police it or get docked over this linguistic elitism (i doubt it's ignorance seeing how long the french course has been up) is really tiring..
You will not see the "singular they" much at all on Duolingo. You are learning that "sa/son/ses" can mean either "his" or "her" and "leur/leurs" is "they". If you need to be more specific in distinguishing between his and her, here is how you do that:
- son livre = (grammatically, it could be either) his book (or) her book.
- son livre à lui = his book
- son livre à elle = her book
Grammatically, the possessive words (son/sa) can both be either "his" or "hers". In normal conversation, however, they will be understood based on the context. When you need to more clearly specify that it is "hers" (not "his"), you can add something to be clear:
- sa robe = (could grammatically be either) his/her dress
- sa robe à elle = her dress
- sa robe à lui = his dress
"Tu" is the subject pronoun for "you" (singular, familiar, used for speaking to a friend). "Vous" is the pronoun for "you" which may be either singular (but a more polite form) or plural. Tu es très gentil(le) = you are very kind. Vous êtes très gentil(le) (singular). Vous êtes très gentils/gentilles (plural).
A very subtle one that is lost to some natives (so if you don't pronounce them differently, nobody will misunderstand you). Ça should be pronounced with an open 'a', as if there was a grave accent on it (à), whereas sa is pronounced with a 'a' a bit closer, like in la (like if it was higher pitch).
Anybody needing help with this kind of stuff: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/common-french-possessives.html
They are completely different words.
- Elle is a pronoun (it replaces a noun), which could translate to "she" when it is used as a subject or "her" when it is used as a stressed indirect object (as in "to her", not as in "her friend"). It is feminine, because it stands for a feminine noun (not (only) a female person).
- Sa is a possessive adjective (it accompanies a noun to give it a property, here an owner). It can be translated to either of "his", "her", "its" or "one's" as in "his friend" (not as in "this is his"). It is feminine because it accompanies a feminine noun (it says nothing about the gender of the owner, only that it is one (third person) owner that is neither the person talking (first person) or the one being talked to (second person)).
Because elle is a pronoun. It could be either a subject pronoun (elle a une robe; "she has a dress") or a stressed object pronoun (je la donne à elle; "I give it to her").
Here, in front of a noun (robe; "dress"), we need a determiner kind of word, either an article (the, a, one...) or an adjective (his, this, some...). The French third person singular possessive adjectives are son (masculine, for masculine nouns - not possessor, like in English, i.e. son =/= "his") and sa (feminine, for feminine nouns starting with consonants, for feminine nouns starting with a vowel, use the masculine one).
Since robe is a feminine noun in French and it starts with a consonant, we use sa (which says nothing about the owner of the dress, it could be a man, a woman, a dog, anything or anyone; context will tell).
if you said elle robe that would say 'she dress' it doesn't make sence unless you say 'elle robes' (she dresses)
"Sa" does not mean "her" and "son" does not mean "his". You know that the adjective matches the object (you just said so). "Sa" may mean either "his" or "her". "Son" may mean either "his" or "her".
- son livre (m) = (could be either) his book (or) her book
- son livre à elle = her book
- son livre à lui = his book
- sa pomme (f) = (could be either) his apple (or) her apple
- sa pomme à elle = her apple
- sa pomme à lui = his apple