Grammar – Possessive Adjectives
The best way to describe possessive adjectives is to give English equivalents:
My book, your car, his/her cat, our house, your exams, their parents.
A possessive adjective stands before a noun, in place of an article. The possessive adjective always agrees in number and gender with the noun, not with the person possessing the object.
mon, ton, son, notre, votre, leur
ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur
mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs
For a feminine singular noun beginning with a vowel or a muted H, the masculine singular form (mon, ton, son) are used in place of ma, ta, sa.
- Mon amie Charlotte est petite. – My friend Charlotte is short.
- Ton idée n’est pas mauvaise. – Your idea isn’t bad.
The possessive adjective is usually repeated before each qualified noun.
- Mon frère, mon cousin, et mes soeurs vont venir. – My brother, (my) cousin, and (my) sisters are coming.
French uses the possessive adjective before some forms of address, whereas English does not.
- Vous avez faim, mes enfants? – Are you hungry, children?
Where English uses the possessive adjective before parts of the body, French is more likely to use the definite article before the part of the body, together with a reflexive verb, or a construction with an indirect object pronoun:
- Je dois me laver les cheveux. – I must wash my hair.
- Il s’est cassé la jambe. – He broke his leg.
Where English uses the possessive adjective “its” or “their” referring to objects, in formal French may prefer the pronoun en rather than the possessive adjective son/sa/ses or leur/leurs.
- Mon collègue connaît le dossier. Il en a mesuré l’importance. – My colleague knows the file. He is aware of its importance.