Learn the pronoms possessifs and adjectifs possessifs and practice using them and recognizing them in French. These can be challenging for English speakers because French possessive pronouns and adjectives need to agree in number and gender with the thing(s) being possessed.
Possessive adjectives are words that come before nouns, defining the possessor of the noun. For example, here are some English possessive adjectives:
This is my house.
Is that your dog?
We enjoyed our vacation.
Possessive pronouns are words that replace nouns modified with a possessive adjectives. Here are some examples of English possessive pronouns:
That house is mine.
Is that dog yours?
The most enjoyable vacation must have been ours.
Check out this article for more information on the English possessive pronouns.
The French Possessive Adjectives & How to Use Them
The French possessive adjectives, les adjectifs possessifs, are used much like the English possessive adjectives.
However, unlike the English, the French possessive adjectives have more forms because they must agree with the person or thing that is possessed in gender (masculine or feminine) and in number (singular or plural).
Following is a list of all the French possessive adjectives. Each line below includes the masculine singular, the feminine singular and the plural form of the various possessive adjectives; remember that whoever the possessor is, the possessive adjective must agree not only with the possessor, but also with the gender and number of the things being possessed!
(English my) 1st person singular possessor (je) - mon père - ma mère - mes parents
(English your) 2nd person singular possessor (tu) - ton père - ta mère - tes parents
(English his, her, its) 3rd person singular possessor (il/elle) - son père - sa mère - ses parents
(English our) 1st person plural possessor (nous) - notre père - notre mère - nos parents
(English your) 2nd person plural possessor (vous) - votre père - votre mère - vos parents
(English their) 3rd person plural possessor (ils/elles) - leur père - leur mère - leurs parents
The usage of French possessive adjectives varies slightly from the usage of the English possessive adjectives. In English, it is acceptable to use only one possessive adjective for a few nouns
English example: "I was happy to find my keys and money safe on the kitchen counter." (Note that it is not necessary to repeat the possessive adjective "my" before the noun "money.")
However, in French, a possessive adjective must be used before each noun being modified: it is not grammatically correct to use only one possessive adjective with more than one noun:
French example, "Il a perdu sa montre et son écharpe."
The French Possessive Pronouns & How to Use Them
Here is a complete list of the French possessive pronouns, words that replace nouns modified by possessive adjectives. Keep in mind that the French possessive pronouns, like the adjectives, refer not only to the person and number of the possessor, but also the grammatical gender and number of the thing(s) being possessed!
- (English mine) 1st person singular (je) - le mien, la mienne, les miens, les miennes
- (English yours) 2nd person singular (tu) - le tien, la tienne, les tiens, les tiennes
- (English his, hers) 3rd person singular (il/elle) - le sien, la sienne, les siens, les siennes
- (English ours) 1st person plural (nous) - le nôtre, la nôtre, les nôtres
- (English yours) 2nd person plural (vous) - le vôtre, la vôtre, les vôtres
- (English theirs) 3rd person plural (ils/elles) - le leur, la leur, les leurs
Here are two example sentences showing how the possessive pronouns may be used in French:
- "C'est ta serviette?" "Non, c'est la tienne!" ("Is that your napkin?" "No, it's yours!")
- "Ah, ça, c'est mon portable!" "Non, je crois que c'est le mien!" ("Oh, that's my phone!" "No, I think it's mine.")
Click here for a downloadable, printable vocabulary list of French Possessive Pronouns and Possessive Adjectives.