Special cases when you use mon/ma/mes/etc with parts of the body (French Possessive Adjectives)

Normally the definite article (le/la/les) is used with body parts (j'ai mal à la tête) but there are exceptions.

See Using le, la, les with body parts and clothing (definite articles)

The possessive adjectives with body parts in French

 In the following special cases:

  • when special emphasis on the body part is desired, or 
  • when another person is involved 

the possessive adjective (sa,son,ta,ton etc.) is used instead of the definite article (le/la/les) to reduce ambiguity.

Montre-moi tes mains!  Show me your hands!

J'ai pris sa mainI took her hand

Regarde son nez! Look at his nose!

 

Also, when the body part is the subject of the verb (rather than the object), possessive adjectives are used:

J'ai mal à la tête.My head hurts.

BUT

Ma tête me fait mal.My head hurts.

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Examples and resources

J'ai pris sa mainI took her hand
Regarde son nez! Look at his nose!
J'ai mal à la tête.My head hurts.
Ma tête me fait mal.My head hurts.
Montre-moi tes mains!  Show me your hands!
Let me take a look at that...