TNs, U14: Possessives 1 (Possessive Adjectives, Euphony, Femme & Fille)

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Possessives Match What is Owned

In English, possessive adjectives (e.g. "his/her") match the owner. However, in French, they match the thing being owned.

Consider the example of "her lion". The French translation is son lion, because lion is masculine and both the lion and the woman are singular. Note that if we hear just son lion, we can't tell if the lion is owned by a man or woman. It's ambiguous without more context. If two people or more own a lion, then it is leur lion.

Because of this ambiguity, the convention is that the object belongs to the subject: Elle aime son lion = "She likes her lion"; otherwise "She likes his lion" would turn to Elle aime son lion à lui.

Possessives have different forms that agree with four things: the number of owners, the number of things owned, the gender of the thing owned, and the grammatical person of the owner (e.g. "his" versus "my").

For one owner, the possessive adjectives are:

Person English Masculine Singular Feminine Singular Plural
1st my mon ma mes
2nd your (singular) ton ta tes
3rd his/her/its son sa ses

For multiple owners, genders don't matter:

Person English Singular Owned Plural Owned
1st our notre nos
2nd your (formal singular or plural) votre vos
3rd their leur leurs

The plural second-person possessive adjectives, votre and vos, should be used when addressing someone formally with vous.


Owner Masc. Singular Owned Fem. Singular Owned
My Mon père — My father Ma mère — My mother
Your Ton livre — Your book Ta lettre — Your letter
His/Her/Its Son oiseau — His/Her/its bird Sa vache — His/Her/Its cow
Our Notre riz — Our rice Notre soupe — Our soup
Your Votre sac — Your bag Votre cravate — Your tie
Their Leur chien — Their dog Leur fille — Their daughter
Owner Masc. or Fem. Plural Owned
My Mes parents (m) — My parents
Your Tes lettres (f) — Your letters
His/Her/Its Ses animaux (m) — His/Her/Its animals
Our Nos tomates (f) — Our tomatoes
Your Vos vêtements (m) — Your clothes
Their Leurs enfants (m) — Their children

Euphony in Possessives

For the sake of euphony, all singular feminine possessives switch to their masculine forms when followed by a vowel sound.

Person Masculine Feminine Feminine + Vowel Sound
1st mon chat ma robe mon eau
2nd ton chat ta robe ton eau
3rd son chat sa robe son eau

Femme and Fille

Femme can mean "woman" or "wife" and fille can mean "girl" or "daughter" depending on the context. For example, when femme and fille are preceded by a possessive adjective, then they translate to "wife" and "daughter", respectively.

  • Une fille et une femme sont dans le restaurant — A girl and a woman are in the restaurant. (Not: "A daughter and a wife are in the restaurant.")
  • Ma fille — My daughter. (Not: "My girl".)
  • Ta femme — Your wife. (Not: "Your woman".)

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

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2 months ago


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