"Sa robe"

Translation:Her dress

March 26, 2013

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I always answer 'his dress' in this one. :)


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


Thanks George! Your notes are always helpful. Keep up with the good work! I appreciate that


Could someone please explain to me how sa, ses, ma, mes, etc. works?


ma - my (singular) - my dog mes my (plural) - my dogs sa - his/her/its/one's (singular) - sa chat - her car, his cat, one's cat (depends on context really) ses - same as above but plural - ses chats - his cats, her cats, one's cats, etc.


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 understand the gender specific possessives to gender specific objects, but is there a way to clarify that the dress belongs to a her versus a him other than saying 'Il a une robe' or 'Elle a une robe'?


You can say "sa robe à elle" (her dress) and "sa robe à lui" (his dress).


I heard ça robe. I'm sure there is a reason that's wrong. I would love to know why.


Because it would be like saying "it dress" in English; i..e., it makes no sense.


Would it not mean "that dress" ?


No, that would be cette robe.


I said 'ça robe' as well. I guess the context here (i.e. we're in the possessives module) should have made it clear that it was 'sa robe'.


Ça - that=it. Ça is used only with verbs. And ce/cette/ces is used with nouns.

Ça fait - it/that makes.

Ce livre - that/this book.

Be careful!


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"


You won't find much use of the "singular they" on Duolingo. If it says "son/sa/ses", choose either "his" or "her", not "they", which is "leur/leurs".


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


Is the context the only way to decide whether the object belongs to a male or female? Like if you said "sa robe", how would one know whether it refers to a male or female's belongings?


From the context. You can say it explicitly if you're afraid the listener might not grasp the gender, like when you were talking about a girl and a boy in the previous sentence, but in like 99% of the time, it's clear from the context.


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


So why not elle robe?


That is because "elle" is not the possesive pronoun "son/sa". Saying "Elle robe" would mean "she dress (a noun)" which doesn't sound quite right.


Is sa for his and her


Yes, and for "its" also, but only for feminine singular nouns starting with consonants.


so 'sa' means her his and its?


Yes, because in French, the possessive adjectives agree with the object being possessed, not the possessor, as in English. So any of son, sa and ses can be translated as any of "his", "her" or "its". They simply aren't used in the same way.


What is the difference between tu and vous?


"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).


Thanks! I had that kind of idea but wanted to confirm. Here's a lingot, if you use them.


This is just a question... In the sentence, "je bois votre eau" why isn't the 'e' omitted as it is in the phrase "l'eau"?


Some words elide, some don't. There are a few exceptions, but this is a good rule : only one syllable words ending in 'e' elide. La also elides, but it seems an exception.


Is there any difference pronunciation-wise between ça and sa?


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).


What's the difference between "Elle" and "Sa"?


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)).


What is difference between ce robe and sa robe?


Ce is a masculine singular demonstrative pronoun, it can't be used with robe because it is feminine. The correct demonstrative pronoun to use would be cette.

Cette robe : this dress
Sa robe : his/her/its dress

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