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

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.


Annie aime son père.
Annie loves her dad.


Q&A Forum 8 questions, 13 answers

KimiaC1Kwiziq community member

For "our parents" (ie. it is my brother and my parents), why do we say "nos parents" instead of "notre parents" since it is the same parents?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Kimia,

Take a look at the following Kwiziq lesson on plural possessive adjectives -

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/use-notre-nos-votre-vos-leur-leurs-to-say-our-your-and-their-possessive-adjectives

Hope this helps!

ToddA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Notre is singular, while nos is plural. Since you're referring to both parents, which is plural, then you'd use nos. It makes no difference whether the parents are the same or not. 

For "our parents" (ie. it is my brother and my parents), why do we say "nos parents" instead of "notre parents" since it is the same parents?

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LYNDELA2Kwiziq community member

avec sa canne dans la main.. why don't we say sa main?

Asked 9 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

You would only use "sa main" if there were a need to clarify which hand the cane was actually in. In English you could say, "cane in hand" and wouldn't need to say which hand it was either. When there's no potential of misunderstanding, the French use the definite article instead of the possessive pronoun.

LYNDEL asked:View original

avec sa canne dans la main.. why don't we say sa main?

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TerryB1Kwiziq community member

In ‘waiting for his girlfriend’ why is there no word for ‘for’, but simply ‘attend sa petite amie”?

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Terry,

To wait for is just attendre in French and there is no need to translate the ‘for’ as it is already there in essence.

Hope this helps!

TerryB1Kwiziq community member

Thank you. 

Terry asked:View original

In ‘waiting for his girlfriend’ why is there no word for ‘for’, but simply ‘attend sa petite amie”?

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LizbetyA0Kwiziq community member

Uses of au and en for masculine and ferminine countries

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Lizbety, 

What is your specific question regarding the above?

Uses of au and en for masculine and ferminine countries

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AA1Kwiziq community member

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?
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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!

 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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. 

AA1Kwiziq community member

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 

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?

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RaghadA2Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Raghad !

The difference is the same as between "tu" and "vous" : 
https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.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 !

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

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GeorgeA1Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour George !

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

Bonne journée !

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

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MeghnaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !
MeghnaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you Aurélie. That clarifies perfectly. M

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?

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