In today’s French class at the Modern Language School, we were studying possessive adjectives (they sound dangerous, but they don’t bite).
It’s the grammar name for words like my, your, his, her, our, their. With these, though it does not come naturally to English speakers, the word for my, etc. agrees (gender and number) with the thing or person “owned”, i.e. the word that comes after. So if you want to say “my dress”, it’s “ma robe”; “my jumper” is “mon pull” and “my shoes” is “mes chaussures”, whether you are a (cross-dressing) man or a woman.
Depending on whether you say “tu” or “vous” to someone, the “your” will be different. Say you are talking to your best friend (a definite “tu”), we’ll have “ta sœur”, “ton frère”, “tes enfants”.
But if you are meeting an adult for the first time, you will be using “vous” and asking about “votre sœur”, “votre frère”, “vos enfants”.
However, it gets better after “my” and “your”, as there are only 2 French words each for “our” and “their”:
our house: notre maison; our village: notre village; our keys: nos clés
their mouse: leur souris; their dog: leur chien; their cats: leurs chats
The bitter-sweet one is that the French words for his and her are the same; so you only have 3 words to learn but you will only know from context whether someone is talking about his coat or her coat: “son manteau”. It is important, then, to hold on firmly to the idea that the his / her word agrees with the “owned” thing or person:
his mother: sa mère; her mother: sa mère
his father: son père; her father: son père
his parents: ses parents; her parents: ses parents
Finally, there is one anomaly with the above: if the word for the “owned” thing or person starts with a vowel or an “h”, then we use the masculine adjective (mon, ton, son) for any word in the singular:
my (male) friend: mon ami (m.); my (female) friend: mon amie (f.)
your plate: ton assiette (f.)
his / her address: son adresse (f.)
These little possessive adjectives have quite a bit of power. For example in today’s class, Steven was sitting between Tony and Sue and said “mon chéri”, so everyone thought something was going on between him and Tony. But he quickly realised his error and changed to “ma chérie”, referring to Sue who happens to be his wife.
To practise and test yourself on possessive adjectives, why not click on the link to my video: https://youtu.be/cVTbV0sYB5I .
Also, you can practise with a toungue twister: “Ton thé t’a-t-il ôté ta toux?” (Did your tea get rid of your cough?).
A votre service,