French possessive adjectives

French Possessive Adjectives: a simple guide

French possessive adjectives are something I see a lot of my students struggle with. In this guide you will quickly learn:

        ➢  What a possessive adjective is
        ➢  How to modify possessive adjectives in French
        ➢  The 15 different French possessive adjectives
        ➢  How and where to use them

If you are planning to take any French language placement tests such as DELF, DALF or TCF, revising your French grammar essentials is a must. This simple guide will teach you everything you need to know about French possessive adjectives to feel confident and set you up for success.

What is a possessive adjective?

French possessive adjectives are used in front of nouns to express possession, namely, to whom or what the noun in question belongs.

Examples include:

      ☞  Mon chien n’aime pas sa nouvelle laisse. (“My dog doesn’t like its new leash”)

      ☞  Pouvez-vous redresser votre siège s’il vous plaît? (“Could you straighten your seat please?”)

      ☞  Mon oncle et ma tante arrivent demain avec leur fille, ma cousine Muriel. (“My uncle and my aunt arrive tomorrow with their daughter, my cousin Muriel”)

As you see they are fairly similar in use and placement to their English equivalent – but when it comes to agreement, things become a bit more complicated for French possessive adjectives. Not to worry though, we will walk you through it. 

How to modify possessive adjectives in French

In French, adjectives (a word that modifies a noun) agree with the noun they modify in number and gender. For example you would say: “une jupe verte” (“a green skirt”)  but “un pull vert” (“a green sweater”).  Possessive adjectives are no different, and that’s where things differ significantly from English. 

Whereas in English we sometimes modify the possessive adjective according to whom the noun belongs (as in “her/his/its”) in French they take different forms according to the noun they are modifying. Simply put, if the noun (the “owned item”) is feminine singular, the possessive adjective should be feminine singular as well: “ma maison” (“my house”). But if it’s masculine singular, the possessive adjective is masculine singular: “mon appartement” (“my apartment”)

We can think of them in two ways:

Focusing on the noun referring to the item owned (= the possession):

  • if the noun is masculine singular, the possessive adjectives are: mon, ton, son, votre, notre, leur
  • if the noun is feminine singular, the possessive adjectives are: ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur
  • if the noun is plural (either masculine or feminine), the possessive adjectives are: mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs

Focusing on the possessor:

  • if the possessor is singular, the possessive adjectives are: mon, ma, mes | ton, ta, tes | son, sa, ses
  • if the possessor is plural, the possessive adjectives are: notre, nos | votre, vos | leur, leurs

Here are some more examples:

      ☞  Mon frère était stressé hier mais son examen s’est bien passé. (“My brother was stressed out yesterday but his test went well”)

      ☞  Salut André, j’adore ta nouvelle voiture! Est-ce que tes enfants l’aiment aussi? (“Hey André, I love your new car! Do your children like it as well?”)

      ☞  Comment sont tes profs cette année? Tu aimes leur manière d’enseigner? (“How are your teachers this year? Do you like their way of teaching?”)

The exception

Of course there is one! In French we have a famous saying, “L’expression confirme la règle” (“The exception confirms the rule”).

This one happens for phonetical reasons: even though French possessive adjectives need to agree with the noun in number AND gender, the exception happens when the noun is feminine and begins with a vowel or a mute H. In that case, we use the masculine possessive adjective instead:

      ☞ “Je vais appeler ma mon amie Leila demain” (“I will call my friend Leila tomorrow”)

      ☞ “Merci pour ta ton honnêteté” (“Thank you for your honesty”)

In these examples, both “amie” and “honnêteté” are feminine, but the succession of two vowel sounds in “ma amie” or “ma honnêteté” would sound awkward to a French ear. So we use the masculine singular form instead (here mon and son) .

The 15 French possessive adjectives

Now that you understand the specific way possessive adjectives behave in French, let’s look at a comprehensive list of all 15 French possessive adjectives. 

This table  shows all the variations of the French possessive adjectives. It will make it easy for you to find the form of the possessive adjective you need in a given circumstance.




English equivalent














your (singular, informal)

il, elle




his / her / its








your (plural or formal)

ils, elles




How and where to use French possessive adjectives

French possessive adjectives are fairly easy to use in a sentence. Just like in English, they come right before the noun they modify or a noun and its qualifying adjective:

☞  ma tante (“my aunt”)

☞  tes grand-parents (“your grandparents”)

☞  leurs meilleurs amis (“their best friends”)

▲ However, note that possessive adjectives are not normally used with parts of the body. We use lelal’ or les instead:

☞ J’ai mal à la tête (“My head hurts”)
☞ Je me brosse les dents (“I’m brushing my teeth”)


Et voilà!

French possessive adjectives no longer have any secrets for you. Enjoy and use liberally!

Enjoy this post? You may like our guide on the use of Gender Neutral Pronouns in French.



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