Tag Archive | French Possessive Adjectives

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

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.