I do not understand why "la main" translates as "my hand" in this case. Is there a rule or it is just one of these exceptional cases?
It is the French way of referring to body parts:
je me lave les cheveux = I wash my hair
je me suis coupé le doigt = I cut my finger
j'ai mal au genou = my knee hurts
So. If it relates to the body, any articles that we use still means possesive? Is it correct that "j'ecris avec la/une/ma main" all of them means i write with my hand
Yes, every time there is no ambiguity as to whose body part it is.
"j'écris avec/de la main gauche" = I write with my left hand (je suis gaucher/gauchère = I am left-handed).
"j'écris avec une main et je dessine avec l'autre" = I write with one hand and I draw with the other one.
"lève la main si tu es d'accord !" = raise your hand if you agree!
"il s'est coupé la main" = he cut his hand
I don't have a problem with that, but why is the "correct solution" in English given as "I put THE hand on her shoulder". This would never be said in English.
Yes, of course that's correct. Since we don't have the context, there's no way to tell.
Not just in French, in Romanian as well, probably in other latin languages also.
I answered: 'I put a hand on his shoulder' often said in English, but not allowed. Is 'la main' in this case always 'my' and would 'a hand' always' be 'une main'?
There is no case where "la main" could translate to "a hand", I think.
A/One hand is une main.
But in English "I put a hand on his shoulder" means the same as "I put my hand on his shoulder" ...
Confused again. If one must use an article before a body part then why is it not l'épaule?
Because it is "his shoulder", not mine.
You replace the possessive by a definite article when the owner is obvious. When the sentence starts with "je", the obvious owner would be me, not a third party.
Please someone explain briefly the diference between: jambe, main and bras. Thank Ou
Could la refer to his hand? i.e. Could I have put his hand on his shoulder?
If the hand is not the subject's, you have to use a possessive: je pose sa main sur son épaule
Isn't épaule feminine? Then why 'son épaule'?
shoulder (I) shoulder/am shouldering GENDER: FEMININE .
Indeed feminine nouns use "ma, ta, sa", unless they start with a vowel sound, in which case you will use the masculine pronouns "mon, ton, son" to ease pronunciation.
Of course both "his" and "her" are accepted. Wasn't there a typo in your sentence? Did you report it during the exercise?
French people don't consider body parts are theirs, they treat them like they are from God so they are his not theirs.
The French language considers that a possessive adjective is redundant when the body part's owner is obvious: "la main" is obviously mine and "son épaule" is obviously someone else's.