Common mistakes with mon/ma/mes, ton/ta/tes and son/sa/ses (possessive adjectives)

In French, the agreement of the possessive adjectives (my, your, his, her) doesn't work the same way as in English. Indeed, in French, possessive adjectives agree with the possession, as well as with the owner.

Look at these three examples:

Louis a emprunté mon stylo.
Louis borrowed my pen.

Louis a emprunté mes chaussures.
Louis borrowed my shoes.

Louis a emprunté ma voiture.
Louis borrowed my car.

In English, we will use my because the owner here is me, (first person).

In French, we will also use the first person, but it only determines the first part of the adjective, so it could still be mon, mor mes.

Then you need to look at the possession:

- In the first case, stylo is masculine, therefore we will use mon.

- In the second case, chaussures is plural, therefore we will use mes.

- In the last case, voiture is feminine, therefore we will use ma.

 

Now look at these three examples:

Je déteste ton chapeau.
I hate your hat.

Je déteste tes collants.
I hate your tights.

Je déteste ta robe.
I hate your dress.

In English, we will use your because the owner here is you, (second person).

In French, we will also use the second person, but it only determines the first part of the adjective, so it could still be ton, tor tes.

Then you need to look at the possession:

- In the first case, chapeau is masculine, therefore we will use ton.

- In the second case, collants is plural, therefore we will use tes.

- In the last case, robe is feminine, therefore we will use ta.

 

And finally look at these three examples:

Annie aime son père.
Annie loves her dad.

Annie aime ses livres.
Annie loves her books.

Annie aime sa mère.
Annie loves her mother.

In English, we will use his or her because Annie, the owner here, is a third person (not I nor you), and it will be the feminine her because Annie (the 'owner') is a woman.

In French, we will also use the third person, but it only determines the first part of the adjective, so it could be son, sor ses.

Then you need to look at the possession:

- In the first case, père is masculine, therefore we will use son.

- In the second case, livres is plural, therefore we will use ses.

- In the last case, mère is feminine, therefore we will use sa.

ATTENTION:
Note that because of this, you cannot infer the gender of an owner based of the possessive adjective in French.

Denis aime sa copine.
Denis loves his girlfriend.

Angela aime sa copine.
Angela loves her girlfriend.

In both cases, you will use sa because of la copine!

 

Here are more examples:

Lisa adore son frère.
Lisa adores her brother.

Il aime sa sœur.
He loves his sister.

Je m'appelle Sophie. J'adore mon chien.
My name is Sophie. I love my dog.

Inès rapporte tes vêtements.
Inès is bringing back your clothes.

Note that the plural persons notre/nos, votre/vos and leur/leurs (our, your, their) are simpler as they only agree in number with the possession(s).
See Notre, nos, votre, vos, leur, leurs = our, your, their (possessive adjectives)

See also the simpler lesson Mon, ma, mes; ton, ta, tes; son, sa, ses = my; your; his / her (possessive adjectives)

and also Using "mon" rather than "ma" with feminine nouns starting with a vowel or mute h (possessive adjectives) and Expressing possession with son, sa, ses and personne, tout le monde, chacun, il faut (possessive adjectives)

 

Examples and resources

Annie aime son père.
Annie loves her dad.


Louis a emprunté mon stylo.
Louis borrowed my pen.


Je m'appelle Sophie. J'adore mon chien.
My name is Sophie. I love my dog.


Denis aime sa copine.
Denis loves his girlfriend.


Elle a déjà son balai de sorcière.
She has her witch's broom already!


Il aime sa sœur.
He loves his sister.


Angela aime sa copine.
Angela loves her girlfriend.


...avec sa canne dans la main.
... with his cane in his hand.


Je déteste tes collants.
I hate your tights.


Inès rapporte tes vêtements.
Inès is bringing back your clothes.


Annie aime sa mère.
Annie loves her mother.


Louis a emprunté ma voiture.
Louis borrowed my car.


Lisa adore son frère.
Lisa adores her brother.


Je déteste ta robe.
I hate your dress.


Annie aime ses livres.
Annie loves her books.


Louis a emprunté mes chaussures.
Louis borrowed my shoes.



Je déteste ton chapeau.
I hate your hat.


Q&A

Lizbety

Kwiziq community member

6 October 2018

1 reply

Uses of au and en for masculine and ferminine countries

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

7 October 2018

7/10/18

Hi Lizbety, 

What is your specific question regarding the above?

A

Kwiziq community member

28 September 2018

3 replies

When would you use the masculine form of a pronoun for a feminine noun

would you use pronouns ending in 'n' (mon, ton, son) for nouns that begin with vowel or silent h? In doing a recent quiz for the noun 'petite amie' a 'sa' was used... should son have been used instead?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

29 September 2018

29/09/18

Hi A,

"Sa petite amie"(his girlfriend) is correct and the possessive adjective agrees with  the possessed (petite amie) not the possessor (the person whose girlfriend it is) .

Hope this helps!

 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

30 September 2018

30/09/18

And you would also use the masculine form if the noun starts with a vowel:

Son amie but sa petite amie. 

Even though amie is feminine, you use son because it starts with a vowel. With petite there's no need for this anymore because it starts with a consonant. 

A

Kwiziq community member

30 September 2018

30/09/18

so in the case of amie, you would not need the 'n' as the adjective does not begin with a vowel. 

the pronoun changes as a result of the word following it and not the noun? 

sa petite amie

son amie 

Raghad

Kwiziq community member

5 September 2018

1 reply

what is the difference between using votre and ton.  For example why in " Les filles aiment ________ yeux." I should use tes  why cant I use vos

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

5 September 2018

5/09/18

Bonjour Raghad !

The difference is the same as between "tu" and "vous" : 
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/tu-and-vous-are-used-for-three-types-of-you

In the context of this specific question, you were given the hint: "Use the 'tu' form", which meant only "tes yeux" was correct there.

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

George

Kwiziq community member

19 July 2018

1 reply

Why do they use 'mon chat' when chat is feminine?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 July 2018

19/07/18

Bonjour George !

Actually the word "chat" is masculine in French : un chat.
The feminine equivalent would be "une chatte" = a female cat

Bonne journée !

Meghna

Kwiziq community member

30 December 2016

2 replies

Son amie

In some other lesson I read that we use ´son' for amie. This is probably to ease pronunciation. My question is what is the rule if there is an adjective between son and amie that doesn't begin with a vowel. Is son petit ´amie' or ' sa petite ami' correct?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

3 January 2017

3/01/17

Bonjour Meghna ! The ending of the possessive adjective is determined by the word directly following it, therefore you will say "ma petite amie" :) I've now added a note about this case to the relevant lesson. I hope that's helpful! Bonne Année !

Meghna

Kwiziq community member

5 January 2017

5/01/17

Thank you Aurélie. That clarifies perfectly. M
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