When referring to a single person of unknown gender, is it correct to use le/la leur, or is that a situation where theirs should be translated as le sien/la sienne?
E.g Would "Someone has forgotten their wallet. Don't take it! It's theirs." translate to "Quelqu'un a oublié leur portefeuille. Ne le prends pas! C'est le leur." ou "Quelqu'un a oublié son portefeuille. Ne le prends pas! C'est le sien."
In your example , talking about a 'portefeuille' ( masculin- singulier)
le leur = theirs
le sien = his or hers
Take a look at the following companion lesson -
Le mien/le tien/le sien/etc = Mine/yours/his/hers/its (French Possessive Pronouns)
Hope this helps!
No, singular "they", to mean a person of unknown gender, doesn't exist in French, so you have to use son and le sien. However, as you can see from Cécile's answer, that doesn't cause a problem with possessive pronouns in French because they can mean either "his" or "hers".
But if you wanted to use a subject pronoun to refer back to quelqu'un, you would use il. Unlike "he" in English, this doesn't imply that the person is male, it's just that the grammatical gender of quelqu'un is masculine. Similarly une personne is grammatically feminine, but can refer to a man or a woman.
Alan's right. English has its own way of talking about an unknown gendered person. It does so by using the plural pronoun (their) This does not work in French.
Quelqu'un a oblié son portefeuille. C'est le sien. -- Someone forgot his (or her) wallet. It's his (or hers).You can't know whether it was a man or a woman.Quelqu'uns ont oblié leur portefeuille. C'est le leur.- -- Some people forgot their wallet. It's theirs. This is a group of people having forgotten a single wallet.Quelqu'uns ont oublié leurs portefeuilles. Ce sont les leurs.-- Some people forgot their wallets. They are theirs. Several people forgot several wallets.
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