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Thread: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

  1. #1
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    FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    I find the description of body parts confusing in French.

    Should we always use the definite article or possessive adjective or a mix of both?
    Please correct my mistakes. ____ Alan

  2. #2
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    Re: Body parts (How to describe)

    Could you be more precise by giving an example ? Do you mean you are wondering how to translate something like " Wash your hands" or " He broke his arm ". You can't use the possessive in French, but the definite article is always used : " Lave-toi les mains ( or " Lavez-vous les mains " ) ; " Il s'est cassé un bras " ; " J'ai mal à l'estomac" .

  3. #3
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    Re: Body parts (How to describe)

    Quote Originally Posted by J.F. de TROYES View Post
    Could you be more precise by giving an example ? Do you mean you are wondering how to translate something like " Wash your hands" or " He broke his arm ". You can't use the possessive in French, but the definite article is always used : " Lave-toi les mains ( or " Lavez-vous les mains " ) ; " Il s'est cassé un bras " ; " J'ai mal à l'estomac" .
    Sorry!
    Do I say "J'ai cassé la jambe ou ma jambe"

    J'ai fait couper mes cheveux ou les cheveux"

    and so on.

    I had understood that body parts are not owned in French, but I have seen examples of the use of the possessive adjective when describing body parts and this is where I am confused.
    Please correct my mistakes. ____ Alan

  4. #4
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    Re: Body parts (How to describe)

    With the verbs you mention (laver, couper, casser ...) you use reflexive forms (se laver, se couper, se casser ...) plus definite article.
    Je me lave les mains.
    Il s'est coupé les cheveux.
    Elle s'est cassé le bras.


    Other wise you can say :
    Regarde mes cheveux !
    Tes pieds sont sales !
    ...

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    Re: Body parts (How to describe)

    Thank you moustic you have cleared up the confusion in my mind.
    Please correct my mistakes. ____ Alan

  6. #6
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    Re: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    Maybe this site will be useful: http://lilt.ilstu.edu/jhreid/grammar/partsbd.htm
    Please correct my errors! Thanks.
    Corrigez-moi, s'il vous plaît! Merci.
    Пoжaлуйcтa, иcпpaвьтe мoи oшибки! Бoльшoe cпaсибo.

  7. #7
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    Re: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    Thanks Thomas1 your suggestion is very helpful.
    Please correct my mistakes. ____ Alan

  8. #8
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    Re: Body parts (How to describe)

    Quote Originally Posted by moustic View Post
    With the verbs you mention (laver, couper, casser ...) you use reflexive forms (se laver, se couper, se casser ...) plus definite article.
    Je me lave les mains.
    Il s'est coupé les cheveux.
    Elle s'est cassé le bras.

    Other wise you can say :
    Regarde mes cheveux !
    Tes pieds sont sales ! ...
    Just one final query on this issue.

    If I want to say that "I have broken my leg" I understand that I should say "Je me suis cassé la jambe" but I'm left not fully understanding why "J'ai cassé ma jambe" is unacceptable?

    Is this just a matter of convention?
    Please correct my mistakes. ____ Alan

  9. #9
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    Re: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    It's unacceptable!
    To me, it would mean you intentionally broke your own leg...
    I'm still hoping yesterday will get better... (Schulz)

  10. #10
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    Re: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    Quote Originally Posted by pieanne View Post
    It's unacceptable!
    To me, it would mean you intentionally broke your own leg...
    Ah! I see, thanks a lot pieanne.
    Please correct my mistakes. ____ Alan

  11. #11
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    Re: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    Elle s'est cassé le bras.

    you should write it: Elle s'est cassée le bras.

    cassée must be set with elle and elle is female form

  12. #12
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    Re: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    Désolée de vous contredire, french4ever, mais "elle s'est cassé le bras" est correct. Explication ici.
    Com as palavras todo cuidado é pouco, mudam de opinião como as pessoas. (José Saramago)

  13. #13
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    Re: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    Quote Originally Posted by french4ever View Post
    Elle s'est cassé le bras.

    you should write it: Elle s'est cassée le bras.

    cassée must be set with elle and elle is female form
    Hello, french4ever, and welcome to the forum.

    In this case there is no agreement. Casser is a réflechi type of verbe in this sentence, this means the agreement is with COD.
    Elle s'est cassé le bras.
    le bras is the direct object after the verb so no agreement.
    s' is the indirect object, elle a cassé le bras à elle-même.

    Compare:
    Ils se sont lavés à l'eau froide. (ils ont lavé eux-mêmes, we have to agree the verb with se, the direct object)
    Ils se sont lavé les mains (ils sont lavé les mains à eux-mêmes, les mains COD after the verb, se COI, no agreement).

    Verbs that are essentially pronominal, for example: se souvenir, agree with the subject: Elle se sont souvenues de X.

    EDIT: I see Nanon replied before me, but I'll leave my answer.
    Last edited by Thomas1; 30th August 2009 at 8:05 PM. Reason: typo!
    Please correct my errors! Thanks.
    Corrigez-moi, s'il vous plaît! Merci.
    Пoжaлуйcтa, иcпpaвьтe мoи oшибки! Бoльшoe cпaсибo.

  14. #14
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    Re: FR: la jambe / ma jambe

    You certainly should, Thomas. I didn't say hello to french4ever. How rude!
    Com as palavras todo cuidado é pouco, mudam de opinião como as pessoas. (José Saramago)

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