French Possessive Pronouns

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September 3, 2021

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French and English possessive pronouns are similar in some ways but have slight differences. In this article, you will find French possessive pronouns and learn how and when to use them.


There are several other grammatical rules such as those for possessive pronouns, for example and the pronouns. Once you learn these rules, you will be able to use them in your speech, writing and reading without worry.


Possessive Pronoun Definition

What are possessive pronouns? In simple terms, possessive pronouns are pronouns that help to determine who an item belongs to. In English an example of this is “that is yours”, with ‘yours’ being the possessive pronoun.

In English there are only seven possessive pronouns, whereas in French there are eighteen different versions to learn, although they are rather simple so there is no need to worry.

What Decides Which French Possessive Pronouns to Use?

Gender

As with all words in French, possessive pronouns are either masculine or feminine, but it isn’t the owner’s gender that determines the gender of the possessive pronoun that you would use, it is the subject.

This is actually a very common mistake to make, but it is important that you identify whether the subject of the possessive pronoun is feminine or masculine. So, when talking about the TV, for example, because the TV is feminine (la télè) the pronoun you would use to show who owns the TV would be female, no matter their gender. In comparison the sofa bed (le canapé-lit) is masculine so the pronoun you use would be masculine.

How Many Subjects

The other determiner on which possessive pronoun to use, is how many of the subject there are. So, while the words are different depending on whether it is mine, yours, ours and theirs, it will also change slightly depending on how many of each thing you are talking about. For example, the pronoun used to describe your cake differs from the pronoun used for your cakes.

This is where the French possessive pronouns differ from the English, as when speaking in English they don’t change because of the subject that you are talking about. The only time that the pronouns will change in English is in relation to who is being spoken about.


French Possessive Pronouns Chart

Singular Plural  
MasculineFeminineMasculineFeminineEnglish
Le mienLa mienneLes miensLes miennesMine
Le tienLa tienneLes tiensLes tiennesYours
Le sienLa siennaLes siensLes siennesHis/Hers/Its
Le nôtreLa nôtreLes nôtresLes nôtresOurs
Le vôtreLa vôtreLes vôtresLes vôtresYours (When using Vous)
Le leurLa leurLes leursLes leursTheirs

As you can see, with the feminine singular for mine, yours and his/hers/it’s there is an extra ‘ne’, all plural possessive pronouns in French have an ‘s’ added onto the end as well.

With ours, yours (when using vous) and theirs there are only two variations on the spelling depending on whether it is plural or not. The only difference with these three between masculine and feminine singular being the le or la at the beginning.


Examples of French Possessive Pronouns

  • Je t’échange le mien contre le tien - (I’ll trade mine for yours)
  • C’est les nôtres -  (It’s ours)
  • Le bureau est le sien - (The office is hers)
  • Cette chemise est la sienne - (That shirt is his/hers)
  • J'ai appelé mes amis. Allez-vous appeler le vôtre -  (I’ve called my friends. Are you going to call yours?)
  • Oui, ces trois enfants sont les nôtres - (Yes, those three children are ours)


Other Resources

Should you wish to use worksheets on how to use French possessive pronouns, there are several available for you. Such as an audio lesson with examples for how to use them, and an exercise which will help you use what you have learnt in sentences.

Other possessive pronoun French worksheets, that are used by teachers, can be found on Pintrest should you have an account with the platform. You are able to print these off and complete them in your own time before checking your answers through research. 

If you don’t have a Pinterest account, there are also plenty of online quizzes available should you wish to test your knowledge as part of your revision of the information that you have learnt on the topic.


Conclusion

The possessive pronouns in French are fairly easy to learn as there aren’t as many variations to them in comparison to the conjugation of different verbs in French. This is because the pronouns remain the same no matter which tense you are talking in, while verbs change depending on who you are talking about and the tense which you are using.

There are several other grammatical rules such as those for possessive pronouns, for example relative pronouns and the pronouns ‘en’ and ‘y’. Once you learn these rules, you will be able to use them in your speech, writing and reading without worry.

About the author 

Sarah grew up in Northampton, England. She loves to travel, write, and explore because of the ability to immerse herself in a different culture and potentially learn a new skill. Sarah uses her writing to share these experiences with other people to help them choose a location for their holiday or learn the skills for themselves.

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