Deuxième Partie: La famille et les amis, Explication de grammaire

La Grammaire

In this section:

  • Possessive determiners

  • Intro to Adjectives

  • Placement of adjectives

Possessive Determiners

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forms and uses
The possessive determiners serve to express ownership or possession (hence the name). They are also often called possessive adjectives because they agree in gender and number with the noun they introduce.

Plural Translation
mon ma mes my
ton ta tes your (familiar)
son sa ses his or her or its
notre notre nos our
votre votre vos your (formal or plural)
leur leur leurs their


famillePossessive articles, like all articles, must agree with the noun they modify. Thus, if the noun is feminine, the possessive article must be feminine, too. In the following example, the feminine noun famille requires a feminine form – sa. Note that sa has three potential translations in English: ‘his,’ ‘her,’ or ‘its.’ So, how do you know which meaning is intended? Context! Since the following example sentence refers to Tex, we know that sa means ‘his.’

Tex présente sa famille: Voici mon frère, Trey, et ma soeur, Rita, avec ses enfants et leur chien Fido. Notre famille est formidable! Tex introduces his family. Here is my brother, Trey, and my sister, Rita with her children and their dog Fido. Our family is great!

Do not forget to make the liaison between the plural forms of the possessive determiners and words that begin with a vowel sound. Matasa become montonson in front of feminine nouns beginning with a vowel sound.

Tex continues his introductions:

Tex: Voici Tammy, mon amie, et ses amies Bette et Fiona, c’est-à-dire nos amies. Tex: Here is Tammy, my friend, and her friends, Bette and Fiona, that is to say, our friends.

Listen to the dialogue:

Tammy parle avec Bette:

Tex n’est plus mon ami! Il a complètement oublié mon cadeau et notre anniversaire! Il a oublié toutes ses promesses! Quel nul!

Tammy is talking with Bette: Tex is not my friend any more! He competely forgot my present and our anniversary! He forgot all his promises. What a loser!

Intro to Adjectives

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Describing friends and family

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. The major differences between adjectives in French and English concern agreement and placement. In French, an adjective is usually placed after the noun it modifies and must agree in gender and number with the noun. In English, an adjective usually comes before the noun it modifies and is invariable, that is, it does not agree.

Tex est un tatou philosophique. Tex is a philosophical armadillo.
Edouard est un escargot raffiné. Edouard is a refined snail.
Joe-Bob est un écureuil aimable. Joe-Bob is a friendly squirrel.
Bette est une chatte capricieuse. Bette is a temperamental cat.
Corey est un cafard ivre. Corey is an intoxicated cockroach.
Fiona est travailleuse. (f) Fiona is hard-working.
Mais Joe-Bob n’est pas travailleur. (m) But Joe-Bob isn’t hard-working.


un écureuil aimable
adjective vs. adverb
It is common in nonstandard English for speakers to use adjectives in place of adverbs.

Joe-Bob says: “Gee, Tex writes real good.” (instead of: “Tex writes well.”)
Joe-Bob says “Gosh, Edouard, you walk real slow.” (instead of: “Edouard, you talk slowly.”)

French adjectives are rarely used in place of the adverbial form. Remember that adjectives modify nouns and adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs!

Tex écrit bien.
(adverb modifies verb)
Tex writes well.
La poésie de Tex est bonne.
(adjective modifies noun)
Tex’s poetry is good.

Placement of Adjectives

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1. formation
2. placement

Adjectives agree in both number and gender with the noun or pronoun they modify. For regular adjectives the masculine form is the base form to which endings are added. The feminine adjective is formed by adding an e. The plural adjective is formed by adding s. Listen to the recorded examples to hear the pronunciation of the different adjective forms:

petit petite petits petites

Note how the singular and plural forms of the masculine adjective sound the same, and the singular and plural forms of the feminine adjective also sound the same.

tex is small
Tex est petit. Tex is little.
Tammy est petite. Tammy is little.
Tex et Trey sont petits. Tex and Trey are little.
Tammy et Bette sont petites. Tammy and Bette are little.

The adjective takes the masculine plural when the nouns it modifies are of different genders: Tammy et Tex sont petits. (Tammy and Tex are little.)

Irregular adjectives do not follow the rules given above.

In French, most adjectives follow the noun, unlike in English, where the the adjective precedes the noun. Here are some examples of adjectives following the noun:

Tex porte toujours un béret rond, même quand il fait du sport. Il aime les romans existentialistes. Dans son enfance, Tex a habité chez des nonnes catholiques. Tex always wears a round beret, even when he exercises. He likes existentialist novels. As a child, Tex lived with catholic nuns.
Tammy a un nez pointu. C’est une tatou mince et sympathique. Elle apprend la langue française et fait des études littéraires. Tammy has a pointed nose. She is a slim and nice armadillo. She’s learning the French language and is studying literature.
Bette est de caractère méfiant. Elle est d’humeur changeante. C’est une chatte très maline. Bette has a mistrustful personality. She has changing moods. She’s a very cunning cat.

Note that there is a small group of adjectives that normally precede the noun. Some adjectives can also be placed before or after the noun but changing the position of the adjectives can modify their meaning.

Listen to this dialogue:

Tammy, Bette et Tex sont à Gregory Gym. Les deux filles parlent, puis se disputent, pendant que Tex fait son sport annuel. Tammy, Bette and Tex are at Gregory Gym. The two girls talk, then argue, while Tex does his yearly workout.
Tammy: Regarde, Bette, comme ses ongles jaunes tapent sur le tapis roulant quand il court! Quel tatou adorable! Et ce museau fin et pointu, ces écailles étincelantes, ce corps souple, ces gestes et ces mouvements pleins de grâce … Tammy: Bette, would you look at those yellow nails of his clicking on the tread mill when he runs! What an adorable armadillo! And that snout, so fine and pointy! Those shiny scales, that supple body, his every gesture and movement so full of grace …
Bette: Berk! Tu aimes vraiment ça!? Un corps humide de sueur et un poil gris comme une boule de papier mâché! Oh mon dieu! Et cette odeur désagréable! Comme un rat noyé! Tu n’es pas sérieuse! Bette: Yuck! You like that!? That clammy body, gray fur? Like a wad of paper maché! Oh, Lord! And that awful smell! Like a drowned rat! You’re not serious!
Tammy: Bette, je ne suis pas idiote! Je connais tes intentions! Il est à moi! Tammy: Bette, you don’t fool me! I understand your intentions! He’s mine!




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Français inclusif: An Interactive Textbook for French 101 by Department of World Languages, Boise State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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