When it comes to French Possessive Adjectives, our main focus should zero down on figuring out what we’re ‘describing’. The gender of the speaker does not play the only role here.
Let’s take the example of – his shirt.
You must have an idea by now but to state it simply, Possessive Adjectives are words that indicate whom the thing belongs to. In this case, his shirt.
Possessive Adjectives – English
First, let’s take a look at them in the English language. There are seven possessive adjectives:
my/your/his/her/its/our/their shirt (s)
The gender or the plural does not matter, the only focus here is on the subject i.e. the owner of the shirt.
Possessive Adjectives – French
Yes, we’re not denying that you still have to narrow down who the owner is but when it comes to using the possessive adjective, but you also need to understand the gender and the plurality of the possession.
English – This is his shirt.
[Our focus is ‘he’ who is the owner]
French – C’est sa chemise.
[Our focus is ‘he’ but we also look at the gender of the word ‘shirt’ – female.]
French Possessive Adjective Chart
|Your (1 person + informal)||ton||ta||tes|
|Your (1 person formal or multiple people)||votre||votre||vos|
Understanding Conjugation For The French Pronoun ‘On‘
If a sentence has the pronoun ‘on‘, the meaning will rely on who ‘on‘ is referring to.
- When ‘on‘ is referring to ‘one’ or ‘they’, the possessive adjectives ‘son, sa, ses‘ are used.
- When ‘on‘ is referring to ‘we’, the possessive adjectives ‘notre, nos’ are used.
Watch the video below to learn more about French Possessive Adjectives:
Making The Correct Choice For French Possessive Adjectives
Here are two rules to keep in mind when choosing which French Possessive Adjective to use:
Rule 1 – Who does the thing belong to?
There are a number of options here – my, your, his, her, its, their, or our. Pick the one that suits your needs.
Rule 2 – What is the thing?
In French, this is the most important part. Other than understanding the owner, we have to consider the word that follows.
Is the word feminine or masculine and is it singular or plural?
Note: French has a gender for each word. Many grammar topics require you to learn the words along with their genders and even when it comes to possessive adjectives, it’s what decides how the sentence is written. In conclusion, get your gender practice on!
- This is his shirt.
C’est sa chemise.
[The pronoun here is male but because the word that follows is feminine, we use the french possessive adjective ‘sa‘.]
- This is her shirt.
C’est sa chemise.
[The pronoun here is female but the translation remains the same because the word ‘shirt’ is still feminine.]
- This is her hat.
C’est son chapeau.
[The pronoun here is female but as you can see with the gender of the word ‘hat’ the possessive adjective changed to masculine.]
- This is their hat.
C’est leur chapeau.
[The pronoun is plural but the possessive adjective remains singular feminine.]
Keep An Eye Out For Exceptions
- The confusion between Ses and Leur. Here’s how to remember the difference:
If the possessive adjective is in relation to a 3rd person singular – ‘he, she or it’, then use ‘sa, son or ses‘.
For example: This is his shirt.C’est sa chemise
If the possessive adjective is in relation to a 3rd person plural – ‘they’, then use ‘leur or leurs‘.
For example: This is their shirt. C’est leur chemise (s).
- The Mutant French Possessive Adjective.
As a rule, remember that if a feminine word starts with a vowel or a silent ‘h’, we won’t use ‘ma, ta or sa‘. However, ‘mon, ton or son‘ will be used so as to avoid a clash with vowels and to enable proper pronunciation. Example: This is your car.
C’est ton auto.
[As you can see, instead of using ‘ta’ for car, we’ve used ‘ton‘ – masculine].
- French Possessive Adjectives don’t take elision.
Make sure not to use M’, t’ or s’ (me, te or se) possessive adjectives as these indicate reflexive pronouns in French.
We hope this guide was helpful in understanding the various parts of French Possessive Adjectives. Above all, we hope you use this to practice more. Au revoir, until next chapter!
For further assistance and better understanding, you may get in touch with French tutors online!