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How to use possessive adjectives in French?

By: Agnes Villeneuve-Newies Mon May 13 2024

Possessive adjectives in French are used before a noun to explain who something belongs to. The possessive adjectives in French are mon(my), ton(your (informal)), son(his, her, its), notre(our), votre(your (formal singular or plural)), and leur(their). Just like in English, the French possessive adjective you choose will depend on the person and number of the possessor noun. However, in French, the form of the possessive adjective will also depend on the gender and number of the noun that is possessed (like other French adjectives do!).

In this post, we’ll review the possessive adjectives in French, along with where to place them in the sentence, how to form agreement with the possessed noun, and the difference between possessive adjectives in English and French.

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Table of Contents

    What are the possessive adjectives in French?

    The French possessive adjectives are mon(my), ton(your (informal)), son(his, her, its), notre(our), votre(your (formal singular or plural)), and leur(their). Possessive adjectives tell us who something, or someone, belongs or has a connection to. Later in the post, you’ll learn a few additional forms of the possessive adjectives above!

    Here’s a typical example in French:

    Mon frère s’appelle Pierre.

    My brother is called Pierre.

    In the example above, mon refers back to the speaker (because they are talking about their own sibling), but the masculine, singular form of the possessive adjective agrees with the French gender and number of the noun frère(brother). But before we discuss agreement, let’s mention how to place possessive adjectives in a sentence!

    Where to place possessive adjectives in French?

    In French, you always place possessive adjectives before the noun. For example:

    Mon appartement est à Paris.

    My apartment is in Paris.

    In addition, you always place a possessive adjective before any other adjective describing the noun in question. For example:

    Mon petit appartement est à Paris.

    My small apartment is in Paris.

    How to form agreement with possessive adjectives in French?

    The form the possessive adjective takes in French depends on a few factors relating both to the owner and the item owned. Possessive adjectives must account for:

    • Who the owner is

    • How many owners there are

    • The gender (masculine or feminine) of the item owned

    • How many things are owned (the number in French)


    Check the owner or owners first, then focus on the item owned.

    Because of all the factors that go into choosing the proper agreement forms for French possessive adjectives, there are a lot of forms of the French possessive adjectives to learn: 15! That’s a lot more than the 7 in English!

    The table below shows you which form of the possessive adjective to use, depending on the gender and number of the thing that is possessed (owned). Notice that the gender of the item owned is only relevant when there is one owner and one owned thing, and that the possessive adjective doesn’t indicate the gender of the owner!

    Number of
    item(s) owned
    Gender of
    item(s) owned
    Person and number of owner(s)
    (one owner)
    (several owners)
    (one item owned)


    • mon(my)

    • ton(your (informal))

    • votre(your (formal))

    • son(his/her/its)

    • notre(our)

    • votre(your (plural owner))

    • leur(their)


    • ma(my)

    • ta(your (informal))

    • votre(your (formal))

    • sa(his/her/its)

    (more than one
    item owned)

    all genders

    • mes(my)

    • tes(your (informal))

    • vos(your (formal)

    • ses(his/her)

    • nos(our)

    • vos(your (plural owner))

    • leurs(their)

    For additional review of the possessive adjectives in French, check out our handy table!


    Often, my students are tempted to say ma amie(my (female) friend). But we need to remember that having two vowels, one after the other, as in ma and amie here, does not sound nice.

    Thus, ma becomes mon, ta becomes ton, and sa becomes son when the feminine noun that follows starts with a vowel or a mute h (an unpronounced h).

    For example:

    • ma amiemon amie(my (female) friend)

    • ta écoleton école(your school)

    • sa haleineson haleine(your breath)

    It makes it a lot easier to pronounce and sounds prettier. Try it for yourself out loud!

    Now, let’s try to figure out together how one would say, “Your car is in your garage”:

    • First, we need to know the owner: is it one person or is it a group?

    • Then, we need to know the situation: is it formal or is it informal?

    • Finally, we need to know the item owned: is it one or many and is it masculine or feminine?

    In the example above, let’s say the owner (second person “you”) is one person and the situation is informal (meaning the French pronoun is tu). We also know that voiture(car) is a feminine singular noun and that garage(garage) is a masculine singular noun. If we look at the table above, for a singular possessor and a feminine, single possessed item, “your” is ta; and for a singular possessor and a masculine, single item, “your” is ton. So, here it is:

    Ta voiture est dans ton garage.

    Your car is in your garage.

    By now, we’ve seen how different possessive adjectives in French are from English. Let’s look at more of these differences in their forms and uses!

    What are the differences between English and French possessive adjectives?

    There are a few important differences between English and French when it comes to possessive adjectives, including both differences in how they are formed and how they are used.

    Be careful with son / sa / ses!

    Possessive adjectives don’t indicate the gender of the owner.

    In English, if you say “her car,” we know instantly that the owner of the car is female, but in French, this is not the case. We say sa voiture because the item owned is feminine (i.e., the noun voiture).

    So, in French, there is not a different third person singular possessive adjective for “his” and “her.” Instead, you need to look at the context of the sentence to correctly translate son, sa, and ses in English with either "his" or "her."

    Let’s put this into practice:

    un livre (m., sg.)

    • Elle adore son livre.

      She loves her book.

    • Il adore son livre.

      He loves his book.

    une veste (f., sg.)

    • Elle déteste sa veste.

      She hates her jacket.

    • Il déteste sa veste.

      He hates his jacket.

    les chiens (m., pl.)

    • Elle aime ses chiens.

      She likes her dogs.

    • Il aime ses chiens.

      He likes his dogs.

    les chaussures (f., pl.)

    • Elle porte ses chaussures noires.

      She wears her black shoes.

    • Il porte ses chaussures noires.

      He wears black shoes.

    Looking at the examples above, because livre is masculine and singular, it will always be son regardless of the owner! And voiture will also be sa, because it is feminine!

    Using possessive adjectives in lists of things

    In English, you don’t need to repeat the possessive adjective in a list. In French, you always have to.
    For example:

    Mon pantalon, ma robe, mes chaussures, ….

    My trousers, dress, shoes, …

    Using possessive adjectives with body parts

    • If the body part is the subject, you use a possessive adjective; otherwise, you use a definite article in French.
      For example:

      • Ses mains sont propres.

        Her/His hands are clean.

      • Je me brosse les dents.

        I brush my teeth.

        ⤷ Notice how in English, we still use the possessive adjective!
    • If you use a reflexive verb in French, use an article and not a possessive adjective.
      For example:

      Elle se lave ses mains → Elle se lave les mains.

      She is washing her hands.

      But if you add an adjective, the possessive adjective must come back.
      For example:

      Elle se lave ses jolies mains.

      She is washing her pretty hands.

    TipDid you know?

    Possession can also be expressed with the construction:




    la maison de Manuel

    Manuel’s house

    (lit.) the house of Manuel

    Note the difference with English: in French, the object being owned comes first (la maison(the house)); it is followed by de(of), and the owner (Manuel) comes last.

    How to use possessive adjectives in polite phrases in French?

    In polite phrases in French, we use words like madame, monsieur, messieurs, etc., which all contain a possessive adjective! When addressing a lady or a gentleman formally and politely, we use madame, mademoiselle or monsieur. The plural forms are mesdames and messieurs. These words are formed with the possessive adjective:

    • ma + dame(my + lady)

    • ma + demoiselle(my + miss)

    • mon + sieur(my + sir)

    • mes + sieurs(my + sirs)

    In the XVI century, monsieur was used to say “my lord” to address noblemen.

    Note that nowadays we keep the same level of respect in the army with mon général(my general), mon capitaine(my captain), and mon colonel(my colonel).

    French possessive adjectives checklist

    When using French possessive adjectives, remember the following:

    • Check who owns the item

    • Check the gender of the item

    • Check how many items there are

    • Check how many owners there are

    • Remember the exceptions: singular feminine noun starting with a vowel or starting with a mute 'h,’ and body parts.

    Now, let’s practice the French possessive adjectives with a fun memory game: Dans ma valise, j’ai mis….

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