My, your, his, her...

French possessive adjectives

Possessive adjectives are words that say to whom or to what something belongs. In English we have seven possessive adjectives:

  • This is my house.
  • This is your house. (When you're talking to one person)
  • This is your house. (When you're talking to more than one person.)
  • This is his house.
  • This is her house.
  • This is their house.
  • This is its house.

In French there are considerably more of these words. You might remember that all French nouns are either masculine or feminine: The upshot of this is that all possessive adjectives in French have to agree with the gender of the noun.

  • My father = Mon père
  • My mother = Ma mère

But here's where it gets interesting for English speakers:

  • His father = Son père
  • Her father = Son père

You might have noticed that "his" and "her" are exactly the same in the above sentences. In French the possessive adjective doesn't change to reflect the gender of the subject (him or her). So "his father" and "her father" end up being exactly the same: "Son père".


  • Her father = Son père
  • Her mother = Sa mère

The gender of the possessive adjective instead changes depending on the gender of the noun. In that example, père (father) is quite obviously a masculine noun. Mère (mother) is a feminine noun.

In addition to recognizing when you're talking about a feminine object or a masculine object, you also need to pay attention to whether the object in question begins with a vowel. Since the feminine possessive adjectives (ma, ta, sa) end in vowels, it would be quite awkward to have to say a word beginning with a vowel right afterwards. Therefore all nouns that start with a vowel will use the masculine word, regardless of what gender they actually are!

English Masculine Feminine Before vowel Plural
my mon ma mon mes
your (sing., fam.) ton ta ton tes
his, her, its son sa son ses
our notre notre notre nos
your (plur., form) votre votre votre vos
their leur leur leur leurs

Is that it?

You might have noticed that there's no "its" in this list. This is because French possessive adjectives relate to the noun, and every noun has a gender. There's no need for the gender-neutral "its". In that way you might say that the French is a little easier than the English? Hmm!

Listen to some examples


Play audio mon père = my father

Play audio ma mère = my mother

Play audio mes parents = my parents

Your (informal)...

Play audio ton père = your father

Play audio ta mère = your mother

Play audio tes parents = your parents

Your (polite)...

Play audio votre père = your father

Play audio votre mère = your mother

Play audio vos parents = your parents


Play audio son père = his/her father

Play audio sa mère = his/her mother

Play audio ses parents = his/her parents


Play audio leur père = their father

Play audio leur mère = their mother

Play audio leurs parents = their parents