French Grammar: The Preposition DE and Possession

FRNGrammarPrepositionDEPossession

French Grammar: The Preposition DE and Possession
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French Grammar: The Preposition DE and Possession
la grammaire française: la préposition DE et la possession

The preposition DE is used in many different kinds of expressions in French. It is commonly used to express possession and relationship.

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The preposition DE is used in many different kinds of expressions in French. It is commonly used to express possession and relationship.

In English, we often use ‘s or s’ to express possession:

The girl’s books

Richard’s brother

The students’ homework

The citizens’ rights

However, ‘s and s’ do not exist in French. Instead, we must use the preposition DE (of) to show possession of a noun. DE must be repeated before each noun – that is, before each ‘owner’ or ‘possessor’:

Je connais la famille de Gérard.
I know the family of Gérard.  (I know Gérard’s family.)

Voilà la maison de Marie et de Frédéric.

There is the house of Marie and of Frédéric.  (There is Marie’s and Frédéric’s house.)

DE becomes D’ before a proper noun that begins with a vowel or a silent ‘h’:

C’est la voiture d’Alain.
It is the car of Alain.  (It is Alain’s car.)

Le chien d’Hélène est féroce.
The dog of Hélène is ferocious.  (Hélène’s dog is ferocious.)

DE contracts with the definite article LE to become DU, and with the definite article LES to become DES:

DE + LE –> DU

DE + LES –> DES

Ce sont les documents du professeur.
These are the documents of the professor. (These are the professor’s documents.)

L’anniversaire du garçon est le 3 septembre.
The birthday of the boy is the 3rd of September. (The boy’s birthday is September 3rd.)

Le chat des voisins est perdu.
The cat of the neighbors is lost. (The neighbors’ cat is lost.)

Voici les devoirs des étudiants.
Here is the students’ homework.  (Here is the homework of the students.)

It is also possible to replace the object possessed by the pronoun celui de, celle de, ceux de, or celles de. The form of the pronoun used reflects the gender and the number of the object(s) possessed:

celui de (masculine singular) : that of

celle de (feminine singular) : that of

ceux de (masculine plural) : those of

celles de (feminine plural) : those of

Le prénom de mon frère est le même que celui de mon père. (In this example,  celui de = le prénom de)

The name of my brother is the same as that of my father.
(My brother’s name is the same as my father’s.)

Notre voiture est plus nouvelle que celle d’Henri. (In this example, celle de = la voiture d’)

Our car is newer than that of Henri.
(Our car is newer than Henri’s.)

Les crayons du garçon sont plus courts que ceux de la fille. (In this example,  ceux de = les crayons de)

The pencils of the boy are shorter than those of the girl.
(The boy’s pencils are shorter than the girl’s.)

Les robes de Sarah sont plus jolies que celles de Claire. (In this example, celles de = les robes de)

The dresses of Sarah are prettier than those of Claire.
(Sarah’s dresses are prettier than Claire’s.)

Adapt:

C’est le livre de Jeanne?
Is this the book of Jeanne?
(Is this Jeanne’s book?)

Non, c’est le livre de Pierre.
No, it is the book of Pierre.
(No, it is Pierre’s book.)

C’est ton vélo?
Is this your (informal) bicycle?

Non, c’est le vélo de mon frère.
No, it is the bicycle of my brother.
(It is my brother’s bicycle.)

Elle est la soeur de Thierry et de Paul?
She is the sister of Thierry and of Paul?
(Is she Thierry’s and Paul’s sister?)

Non, elle est la soeur de Rose, de Luc et d’Anne.
No, she is the sister of Rose, of Luc, and of Anne.
(No, she is Rose’s, Luc’s, and Anne’s sister.)

La population de la France est plus grande que celle des États-Unis?
Is the population of France greater than that of the United States?

Non, la population de la France est moins grande que celle des États-Unis.
No, the population of France is smaller than that of the United States.

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