Updated: Aug 22
When to use them?
Possessive adjectives (sometimes called possessive determiners) are used to express relationship and ownership.
Check the two examples below to understand what this means:
1. Marc is my brother. Marc est mon frère.
2. My car is blue. Ma voiture est bleue.
Here "my" is the possessive adjective.
In the first example, it expresses a relationship. (This is my relation to Marc.)
In the second example, it expresses an ownership. (I own the blue car.)
How to use them?
Just like any other adjectives, possessive adjectives need to agree in gender and number with the noun it is referring to. Possessive adjectives always come before the noun they refer to.
See table below for agreements:
Possessive Adjectives in context:
1. Il travaille pour sa mère. He works for his mother.
« sa» refers to the noun « mère », which is feminine singular.
2. Nous parlons de nos parents. We are talking about our parents.
« nos » refers to « parents » which is plural.
3. Ils sont fiers de leur culture. They are proud of their culture.
« leur » refers to « culture » which is singular.
Key things to know and remember:
Possessive adjectives agree with the noun NOT the owner.
son can mean his or her.
sa can mean his or her.
ses can mean his or her.
Son, sa, ses can also mean its or one's.
Mon, ton, son are used before feminine singular nouns beginning with a vowel or a mute h. This is to facilitate the pronunciation.
Mon opinion est entendue. My opinion is heard.
(opinion is feminine but starts with a vowel)
Ton amie s'appelle Sophie. Your friend is called Sophie.
(amie is feminine but starts with a vowel)
J'aime son honnêteté. I like his/her honesty.
(honnêteté is feminine but starts with a silent h)
Possessive adjectives are not normally used with parts of the body. Le, la, l', les are used instead.
j'ai mal à la main. My hand hurts
You can practise this grammar aspect with this game.
For French A Level students with any exam board: This workbook is excellent to practise all the grammar you need to know in the first year of your A-level course.
For French GCSE students with any exam board: The green handbook gives you easy to understand descriptions and rules for all the grammar aspects you need to know at GCSE level. The white workbook contains a series of activities to help you practise these aspects. Answers are provided at the back so you can check your work.
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