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Use notre/nos when on means we, but son/sa/ses when it means people (possessive adjectives)

Possessive phrases containing, 'on' can use either "son/sa/ses" if on is used in a general sense ('one', 'people'), or "notre/nos" when on means 'we':

On est son propre maître.
One is one's own master 

On aime toujours sa famille.
One always loves one's family. / People always love their family.

On mange notre repas.
We are eating our meal.

On porte nos sacs
We are carrying our bags.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

ON - "we"


On porte nos sacs
We are carrying our bags.


On mange notre repas.
We are eating our meal.


ON - general meaning, "one"/"people"


On aime toujours sa famille.
One always loves one's family. / People always love their family.


On est son propre maître.
One is one's own master 


Micro kwiz: Use notre/nos when on means we, but son/sa/ses when it means people (possessive adjectives)
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Q&A

Cathy

Kwiziq community member

21 February 2018

1 reply

How to determine if it's a general statement

Chris

Kwiziq community member

21 February 2018

21/02/18

Hi Cathy,


if substituting "one" for "on" makes more sense than "we", it is a general statement. For example:



On prend nos vacances l'été. -- We take our vacation in summer (we = us in particular).
On prend ses vacances l'été. -- One takes one's vacation in summer (we = in general).


I hope that helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Dzoan

Kwiziq community member

5 November 2017

2 replies

on nous vs on se?

For reflexive verbs, is it always on se or can it be on nous? For example, we talk (to each other) everyday = on se parle tous les jours. Can it be on nous parle?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

6 November 2017

6/11/17

I have only ever encountered "on se....". You are, of course, free to say "Nous nous parlon...." but you already knew that, I am sure.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Jim

Kwiziq community member

7 November 2017

7/11/17

Hi Dzoan,
"On" can only take the reflexive pronoun "se".
"Nous" only takes the reflexive pronoun "nous".
It is incorrect to mix these pronouns in the way you ask -- "On nous parle tous les jours" is not correct -- it has to be "On se parle ------"
Regards,
Alan (Non native speaker)

Andrew

Kwiziq community member

7 February 2017

1 reply

Why use notre and not nos

I can't see how to decide which to use when used in this context

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

8 February 2017

8/02/17

Bonjour Andrew !

Unfortunately here I cannot see the example you're referring to, but here's the rule for using "notre" vs "nos" :
- if the noun following is plural, "our dogS", then you use "nos" -> "nos chiens"
- if the noun following is singular, "our cat", then you use "notre" -> "notre chat"

Here's a link to the related lesson:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/my-languages/french/view/3113

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !
Clever stuff underway!