When to use them?
Possessive pronouns are used to expressed ownership by replacing a possessive adjective (or a demonstrative adjective) + noun that has previously been mentioned or referred to.
In French, possessive pronouns have the particularity to start with a definite article (le, la, les).
They agree with the possessed noun in number and gender.
Check the two examples below to understand what this means:
1. Take your keys, I lost mine. Prends tes clés, j'ai perdu les miennes.
2. 'Is that his car?' -'yes, it's his.' 'C'est sa voiture?' -'Oui, c'est la sienne.'
Here "mine" and "his" are possessive pronouns.
In the first example, it expresses my ownership of the keys.
In the second example, it expresses a third person's ownership of the car.
How to use them?
A possessive pronoun always includes a definite article.
Le is used when the object possessed is masculine.
La is used when the object possessed is feminine.
Les is used when the object possessed is plural.
The second part of the possessive pronoun (mien, tien, sien, nôtre, vôtre, leur) is chosen according to the person who owns the object but must then agree with the noun (object possessed) it replaces.
See table below for agreements:
Possessive Pronouns in context
1. Sa maison est plus grande que la mienne. His/her house is bigger than mine.
« la mienne» shows that the owner is the first person singular and refers to the noun « maison », which is feminine singular.
2. Elle portait des lunettes qui n'étaient pas les siennes. She was wearing glasses which were not hers.
« les siennes » shows that the owner is the third person singular and refers to the noun « les lunettes » which is feminine plural.
3. Cet appartement-là, c'est le leur. That flat over there, it's theirs.
« le leur » shows that the owner is the third person plural and refers to the noun « appartement » which is masculine singular.
Key things to know and remember:
Possessive pronouns agree with the noun NOT the owner.
le sien can mean his, her or its.
la sienne can mean his, her or its.
les siens can mean his, her or its.
les siennes can mean his, her or its.
les siens can also have the special meaning of "one's family/their own":
On s'occupe des siens. People look after their families/own.
les nôtres can also have the special meaning of "with us/ one of us":
Elle n'était pas des nôtres. She wasn't with us/ one of us.
Don't forget that when a definite article is preceded by a preposition, its form can change!
à + le = au
à + les = aux
de + le = du
de + les = des
1. Vous préférez votre jardin au leur. You prefer your garden to theirs.
2. Ils ont cassé leur aspirateur. Ils ont besoin du nôtre. They broke their hoover. They need ours.
For French A Level students with any exam board:
For French GCSE students with any exam board:
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