Possessive Adjectives

Like all French adjectives, possessive adjectives, listed in Table 1, agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify (the person or item that is possessed) and not with the subject (the person possessing them).

When using possessive adjectives, note the following:

  • Possessive adjectives agree with and are repeated before each noun.
    • J'aime mon père, ma mère, et mes sœurs. (I love my father, my mother, and my sisters.)
    • Donne‐moi leurs CDs et ta stéréo. (Give me their CDs and your stereo.)
  • Son and sa can mean either his or her because the possessive adjective agrees with the noun it modifies and not with the possessor. Sa mère, therefore, could mean either his or her mother, because sa agrees with the word mother, which is feminine. Similarly, son père can mean either his or her father because son agrees with the word père, which is masculine. The true meaning of the word can be determined only by the context of the conversation.
  • The forms mon, ton, and son are used instead of ma, ta, and sa before a feminine singular noun beginning with a vowel or vowel sound. This allows the words to flow smoothly.
    • mon adresse (my address)
    • ton hôtesse (your hostess)
    • son amie (his/her friend)
  • When referring to parts of the body, the possessive adjective is generally replaced with the definite article if the possessor is clear.
    • Je me brosse les cheveux. (I brush my hair.)
    • Elle lève la main. (She raises her hand.)
  • There is no elision with possessive adjectives: The finala from ma, ta, and sa may never be dropped. The abbreviations m' t' and s' are reflexive pronouns — not possessive adjectives.

    To avoid awkward pronunciation, use mon, ton, or son before a feminine singular noun that begins with a vowel or vowel sound.

    • (Right) Qui est ton artiste favorite? (Who is your favorite artist?)
    • (Wrong) Qui est ta artiste favorite?

Some French expressions of relationship include the following:

  • une de mes amies (a [girl]friend of mine/one of my [girl]friends)

  • un de ses enfants (a child of his/one of his children)

  • un de leurs voisins (a neighbor of theirs/one of their neighbors)