You probably own lots of things in life, some big, some small.
Mainly small things...
You may own a pencil, a dog, a cell phone or an airplane.
I still wish I had a dog...
To show that you own something, you use words such as the following in English:
We call these words possessive, since they indicate possession. Logical, right?
In French, the possessive form has to change to match the word it's describing.
We'll look at mon (my), ton (your) and also votre (your when you adress several people or when you use the formal way to adress one person) first.
mon livre → my bookmes livres → my books
ma valise → my suitcasemes valises → my suitcases
ton livre → your booktes livres → your books
ta valise → your suitcasetes valises → your suitcases
votre grand-père → your grandfathervos grands-pères →your grandfathers
votre grand-mère → your grandmothervos grands-mères → your grandmothers
So mon is for masculine words, ma is for feminine?
Yes, well observed! However...
Note that feminine words that start with a vowel or silent h use the masculine form moninstead of ma,andtoninstead ofta.
Je parle français parce que mon père est français.
I speak French because my father is French.
Mon amie Lucie est canadienne.
My friend Lucie is Canadian.
Ta soeur a 15 ans.
Your sister is 15 (years old).
Je suis fier de ma fille.
I am proud of my daughter.
Wait, so why does it change to mon and ton when it's actually feminine?
It's for the flow of pronunciation. Ma adresse just wouldn't sound as good as monadresse connected by the n in mon.
Oooh so it's a bit like an in English. It's an apple, not a apple.
That's right! See, French and English aren't that dissimilar after all.
Hmm I don't know about that...
For grammar lovers:
Words that mark ownership are called possessives. When they come in front of a noun (e.g. my life)they are called possessive adjectives.
As all adjectives in French, possessive adjectives must change to match the noun they refer to. In geeky grammar terms, this is called agreement. Adjectives must agree in gender and number.