It is quite easy to understand the areas of application. However, there are many different possessive pronouns.
Take a look at the picture below:
You will probably find yourself quite confused, but don’t worry. In this article, we will go through all the pronouns one by one.
We will also put them in different categories to make things easier to understand .
But first, we need to clarify one basic rule: We will always choose the possessive pronoun in relation to the object or the person.
What does this mean in practice? Let us take a look at two sentences.
1. J’aime ton tableau, le mien n’est pas aussi beau – I like your painting, mine is not as beautiful.
2. Elle veut achétèr ta robe, la mienne est trop chère – She wants to buy your dress, mine is too expensive.
- “ton tableau” is a masculine noun “un tableau”, so we will therefore use a masculine possessive pronoun.
- “Ta robe” is a feminine noun “la robe”, so we will therefore use the feminine version.
Do you still find it difficult to understand? Look at the categories and pictures below. It gets much easier when we give the pronouns context.
We need to pair the possessive pronouns with masculine nouns/names.
- Et le chapeau? C’est le mien – And the hat? It is mine.
- J’ai besoin d’un pull, est-ce que je peux emprunter le tien? – I need a sweater. Can I borrow yours?
- Elle ne veut pas de ce stylo, elle a déjà trouvé le sien – She does not need this pen, she has already found hers.
Attention! The following examples will refer to a group of people.
However, please note that the noun/name will remain singular.
- C’est ton casque? Non, c’est le nôtre – Is this your pair of headphones? No, it is ours.
- Ella a un vélo plus coloré que le vôtre – She has a more colorful bicycle than yours.
- à qui appartient ce stylo? C’est le leur – Who does this pen belong to? It is theirs.
- Tu as besoin d’une bague? Prends la mienne – Do you need a ring? Take mine.
- C’est une belle écharpe, mais ja préfère la tienne – It is a nice scarf, but I prefer yours.
- Ils ont une vie plus drôle que la sienne – They have a funnier life than hers.
- Cette voiture? Nous avons déjà trouvé la nôtre – This car? We have already found ours.
- J’ai trouvé une nouvelle table et je n’ai plus besoin de la vôtre – I found a new table, I no longer need yours.
- Nous avons besoin d’une armoire. Nous aimerions achéter la leur – We need a wardrobe. We would like to buy theirs.
Before continuing, we need to ask ourselves an important question: what is the difference between these pronouns and the ones in plural?
I have already tried to touch on this subject, but I think we need a more elaborate explanation.
Look at this example:
1. Ce stylo – C’est le nôtre? = This pen? It is ours.
2. Ces stylos – C’est sont les nôtres = These pens? They belong to us.
- Number 1 refers to one single thing (ce stylo = a pen). This is still singular, even if we, the ones who own the pen, are represented by more than one person.
Let’s say that we’re going to a restaurant. When we enter the restaurant, someone in our group asks, “Where is our table?”
Another says that “This is our table.” In French we would say, “C’est la nôtre.”
However, if we are a large group of people needing two tables. We would be more likely to say “Ce sont les nôtres.”
I hope you understand the difference now . Let us move on with some more examples.
Masculine and feminine plural
We need to make a difference between the masculine and feminine form as the pronouns change in relation to gender. These pronouns will change in relation to gender:
- Les miens
- Les miennes
- Les tiens
- Les tiennes
His, hers, its:
- Les siens
- Les siennes
It should also be noted that it can be difficult to know the gender of the noun/name in the plural form.
So, you need to trust me on this one, the following names/nouns are in the masculine form .
- À qui appartient ces diamants? C’est sont les miens – Who do these diamonds belong to? They are mine.
- On va choisir les miens ou les tiens? – Are we going to choose mine or yours?
- Ces tableaux sont plus beaux que les siens – These paintings are more beautiful than his/hers.
Pronouns in the feminine form:
- Tu aimerais acheter des pommes qui sont aussi rogue que les miennes? – Would you like to buy apples that are redder than mine?
- Quelles vestes? Il préfère les tiennes – Which jackets? He prefers yours.
- J’ai choisi les couvertures qui sont plus confortables que les siennes – I chose the blankets that are more comfortable than hers.
The last pronouns (combined plural)
Now we can combine the remaining six pronouns for the masculine and feminine plural form. That means that you do not have to make a difference in relation to their gender.
The pronouns do not change as you can see in the picture in the beginning of this chapter. Let us look at an example with:
1. Un costume – a suit
2. Une écharpe – a scarf
- J’aimerais acheter quelques costumes qui n’est pas aussi chers que les vôtres – I want to buy some suits that are not as expensive as yours.
- Ces écharpes sont beaucoup plus colorées que les vôtres – These scarves are much more colorful than yours.
Final note on the grammar
I have tried to break down the different pronouns to the best of my ability. I have also tried to create easy exercises that won’t give you too much trouble.
This concept of possession is usually not difficult to grasp. It is rather the many different forms that make it difficult for native English speakers. Don’t worry too much about this in the beginning.
I can guarantee you that many French learners on the advanced level struggle with this from time to time. I had to think more than once before I wrote this article, which is quite funny considering how much time I have spent studying French .
You are probably thinking about how you will tackle this problem in everyday conversation. I mean, it can even be difficult when you have the pronouns listed in an image in front of you.
You should try to put these pronouns in your own examples. This is probably the best method for someone who wants to get used to picking the right pronoun.
It can be quite tiring to come up with your own examples, especially if you are at the beginner level, but I know for a fact that it is more difficult to come up with the right thing to say in an actual conversation.
It is therefore much better to get used to the pronouns in an environment where you do not feel the pressure to say something quickly.
Finally, it should be noted that these pronouns are not crucial for becoming conversational. There are different pronouns that you can use to get your point across. Avoiding them will, however, show that you do not speak the language fluently. It is a bit like “le subjonctif;” you can avoid this part of the language even if it will expose your level of knowledge.