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Omitting the Possessive Adjective

In an imperative or command:

In French, possessive adjectives are used to modify the noun they precede.

Voici ma mère. | This is my mother.


Regarde ma nouvelle voiture ! | Look at my new car!

A common construction is one where the possessive adjective is dropped in an imperative or command (and replaced with a definite article along with a personal pronoun) only if an action is being taken on a physical attribute (head, back, arm etc.). In the following examples, action is not being taken on the physical attribute, therefore the possessive adjective remains.

Regarde mon dos. | Look at my back.


Remarque mes cheveux. | Notice my hair.

In the following examples, an action is being taken on the physical attribute.

Masse-moi le dos. | Massage my back.


Coupe-moi les cheveux. | Cut my hair.


Tiens-moi la main. | Hold my hand.

Verb

Possessive Adjective

Noun

masse

mon

dos

coupe

mes

cheveux

↙↘

Verb

Personal Pronoun

Definite Article

Noun

masse

moi

le

dos

coupe

moi

les

cheveux


In a statement:

The possessive adjective may also be dropped in a statement only if an action is being taken on the physical attribute. In the following examples, an action is not being taken.

Je regarde son dos. | I’m looking at his/her back.


Elle remarque ses cheveux. | She’s noticing his/her hair.

In the following examples, an action is being taken on the physical attribute.

Je lui masse le dos. | I’m massaging his/her back.


Elle me coupe les cheveux. | She’s cutting my hair.

The possessive adjective takes the form of the appropriate personal pronoun and is placed before the verb, and a definite article is placed before the object. The same applies to pronominal verbs (when the action is being done to oneself).

  • I wash my hands. = Je me lave les mains.
  • She brushes her hair. = Elle se brosse les cheveux.

Subject

Verb

Possessive Adjective

Object

je

masse

son

dos

elle

coupe

mes

cheveux

↙↘

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Verb

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

masse

le

dos

elle

me

coupe

les

cheveux


In the past tense (passé composé):

In the past tense as well, the personal pronoun is placed after the subject (just as it is in the present tense).

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Verb

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

masse

le

dos

elle

me

coupe

les

cheveux

↙↘

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Avoir

Past Participle

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

ai

massé

le

dos

elle

m’

a

coupé

les

cheveux


In the past tense using pronominal verbs:

The construction for using pronominal verbs is much like using passé composé with the exception that, as with all reflexive verbs, the past participle is conjugated with être.

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Être

Past Participle

Definite Article

Object

je

me

suis

lavé

les

mains

elle

s’

est

cassé

la

jambe


I hope everyone is doing well and having a wonderful week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

The Superlative Form of Adjectives

The superlative form of adjectives is made by introducing the definite article (le/la/les) – or if appropriate, the possessive adjective – before the comparative form of the adjective.

  • C’est ma plus belle peinture.
  • It’s my finest painting.
  • Ce sont les garçons les plus travailleurs de la classe.
  • They are the most hardworking boys in the class.

The adjective bon has as its superlative form le meilleur.

  • C’est le meilleur choix.
  • It’s the best choice.

The adjectives mauvais and petit each have two superlative forms:

Le plus mauvais is used more frequently than le pire.

  • C’est le plus mauvais acteur que j’aie vu.
  • He’s the worst actor I’ve seen.

Le plus petit is used to refer to physical size, while le moindre is common with abstract nouns:

  • C’est la plus petite salle.
  • It’s the smallest room.
  • Vous pouvez me consulter si vous avez la moindre difficulté.
  • You can consult me if you have the least difficulty.

It’s a new month! What do we want to see next on the blog?

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Comparative Forms of Adjectives

In French, the comparative form of adjectives requires plus/moins before the regular form.

  • Cette rue est plus longue que l’autre.
  • This road is longer than the other.
  • Cette ville est moins propre que la nôtre.
  • This city is less clean/not as clean as ours.

If the comparison uses “so much more/less (adjective)… than”, use tellement plus/moins (adjective)… que.

  • Ce nouveau bâtiment est tellement plus joli que l’ancien.
  • This new building is so much prettier than the old one.
  • Mon jardin est tellement moins bien organisé que le tien.
  • My garden is so much less well organised than yours.

There are several adjectives that have irregular comparatives.

The comparative form of bon is irregular: meilleur.

  • Ce vin est meilleur que celui de l’année dernière.
  • This wine is better than last year’s.

The adjective mauvais has the regular comparative form plus mauvais, and also an irregular form: pire.

  • Cet album est plus mauvais que le dernier.
  • This album is worse than the last.
  • Le comportement du nouvel élève était encore pire.
  • The new student’s behaviour was even worse.
  • Vous avez entendu la dernière nouvelle ? C’est pire.
  • Did you hear the latest news? It’s worse.

Petit has the regular comparative form plus petit, which is always used for references to physical size.

  • Anne est plus petite qu’Estelle.
  • Anne is smaller than Estelle.

There is also the irregular comparative form moindre, which is rarely used, used normally  in literary style.

  • Ce détail est d’un moindre intérêt.
  • This detail is of less interest.

I hope everyone is well. Stay safe!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Negation of Adjectives

For adjectives occurring after the noun they qualify, there may exist an antonym, or a negative form.

  • les cheveux courts/longs – short/long hair
  • une réponse admissible/inadmissible – an acceptable/unacceptable reply
  • une personne contente/mécontente – a happy/unhappy person

If such a form doesn’t exist, the adjective can be negated by peu, especially in formal usage:

  • une proposition peu rentable (formal) – an unprofitable proposal
  • un employé peu disposé à s’adapter (formal) – an employee unwilling to adapt

In a less formal usage, it would be more common to negate the verb:

  • Cette proposition n’est pas rentable. – This proposal isn’t profitable.

I hope everyone is doing well this week. As always, feel free to ask questions or request a lesson. Have a great week!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Demonstrative Adjectives

Leçon 34 – Demonstrative Adjectives

A demonstrative adjective stands before a noun, in place of an article, and has the meaning “this/that/these/those”. The French demonstrative adjective agrees in gender and number with the noun it qualifies. The plural form is the same for both genders.

  • Masculine singular noun beginning with a consonant or an aspirated “h” :
    • ce – this/that
      • ce chien – this/that dog
      • ce héros – this/that hero
  • Masculine singular noun beginning with a vowel or muted “h” :
    • cet – this/that
      • cet enfant – this/that child
      • cet hiver – this/that winter
  • Feminine singular (all forms)
    • cette – this/that
      • cette fleur – this/that flower
      • cette onde – this/that wave
  • Plural (both genders)
    • ces – these/those
      • ces rideaux – these/those curtains
      • ces cartes – these/those cards

Note that contrary to English, in French, the appropriate form of the demonstrative adjective must be repeated before every noun when there are two or more items:

  • Ces chaises, ces fauteuils, et cette table iront dans la salle de séjour.
  • These chairs, armchairs, and table will go in the living room.

The French demonstrative adjective does not convey the distinction between “this” and “that”. Where the distinction is important, -ci (this/these), or -là (that/those) must be added to the end of the noun being qualified:

  • Est-ce que vous préférez ce manteau-ci ou ce blouson-là ?
  • Do you prefer this coat or that jacket?
  • Ces oranges-ci sont trop mûres, mais ces bananes-là sont bonnes.
  • These oranges are over ripe, but those bananas are good.

Have a great week, friends!

A la prochaine !

Courtney

Grammar – Possessive Adjective

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.

Masculine Singular

mon, ton, son, notre, votre, leur

Feminine Singular

ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur

Plural

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.