Categories: French Grammar

Appartenance, Belonging in French

Appartenance, Belonging in French

In English we use the apostrophe: John’s book, or nothing for plural. In French we use “de” and “à”. (Don’t forget that these two words have several meanings that have nothing to do with this lesson!)

1. Noun + de + Noun:

John’s book: le livre de John (livre and John are nouns)
My friends’ book: le livre de mes amis
The director’s opinion: l’avis du directeur
The dog’s food: la nourriture du chien
The cow’s milk: le lait de la vache

The same rule for: noun + de + clause:
Ce sont les affaires de ceux qui sont partis: these are the belongings of the ones who left

With a person name we don’t need any article with a common name we do (mes, du…)

2. Noun + à + Personal Pronoun:

Le livre de John, c’est son livre à lui (lui is a personal pronoun: him)
Elle a une méthode bien à elle: she has a very personal method (or “bien à lui” for a boy)
Ils n’ont pas de voitures à eux: they haven’t got a car of their own
Je vous présente un ami à elles: I am introducing you to a friend of them
C’est à qui? (à qui c’est?): whose’s that?

 

Exceptions:

Pay attention:
Il veut une photo à elle: he wants a photo that belongs to her
Il veut une photo d’elle: he want a photo of her

With the verb to be, always “à” (nouns and pronouns)

C’est à elle
C’est à Paul
C’est au directeur
C’est à sa mère…
Of course with “de” the meaning is different
“C’est d’elle” means that this is a representation of her ( a picture, a painting) or this is something she made ( a book, a painting…)

With the verb appartenir, always “à”:
Ce livre appartient à John.

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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