FR: male mouse - la souris, son ami(e)

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by Nick.G.123, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. Nick.G.123 New Member

    Canada, English
    ok for my french story
    theres a male mouse
    when someone is saying something to him
    would it be
    à son ami
    à sa amie
  2. Tabac Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest (USA)
    U. S. - English
    son ami (masculine); son amie (feminine) not sa because the word begins with a vowel.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2013
  3. Nick.G.123 New Member

    Canada, English
    ok thanks
    but would it be feminin or masculin because its a male mouse but mouse is feminin
  4. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Welcome, Nick! :)

    In French, the posessive ajective (here: son, sa, or ses) agrees in number and gender with the noun it modifies (here: friend = ami, amie).

    So if a boy has a friend who is female: son amie = his (female) friend
    And if a boy has a friend who is male: son ami = his (male) friend.

    And if a girl has a friend who is female: son amie = her (female) friend
    And if a girl has a friend who is male: son ami = her (male) friend.

    Notice how the son never changes. It has to be son because the next words starts with a vowel. In short, son and sa and ses all mean "his" and "her" - so to know whether it's "his" or "her" in a given sentence, you need more context.

    The fact that the friend is a mouse doesn't matter, because you're not saying "his/her mouse," instead you're saying "his/her friend." So you get to chose ami for a friend who is a boy and amie for a friend who is a girl, regardless of the fact that that friend is a mouse (and that the french word for "mouse" is feminine).

    On the other hand, if you wanted to say "his/her mouse," you would have only one option: sa souris, because "souris" is feminine and starts with a consonant.

    Does that make sense? :)
  5. Nick.G.123 New Member

    Canada, English
    yes that makes sense
    but its not what im asking
    if someone is saying something
    to the male mouse
    is it considered feminin or masculin
  6. Nick.G.123 New Member

    Canada, English
    if it helps
    heres the context
    a dit Matthieu à son ami(e) (Matthieu's friend is the mouse)

  7. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Sorry, Nick, I was editing my post while you were replying, because I realized that I wasn't answering your question. Please reread my message above, and if it still doesn't answer what you need to know, then please give an example sentence so that I understand you better. :)

    EDIT: Oops, we cross-posted again! :p

    OK, so the context does help and I think I did answer your question in my post #4 above. You're using sa/son to modify "friend." The mouse friend is a boy, so you will pick "ami." Then, because "ami" is masculine, you will use "son." ->> ... a dit Matthieu à son ami.
  8. Nick.G.123 New Member

    Canada, English
    ok wait
    so if in a different sentence it was "the mouse"
    it would be "la souris" right?
  9. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Correct. :thumbsup: :)
  10. Akilias New Member

    English - America
    In French how do you describe something with a feminine noun that is masculine?

    Say you are talking about a male mouse. Would you still use la souris?

    --- Merci beaucoup in advance.
  11. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Welcome, Akilias! :)

    This exact same question has been discussed before, so I have transferred your post into that existing thread. Please read back through the previous messages and I believe you will find the answer to your question.

    The biological sex of an animal doesn't affect the grammatical gender of the word we use to name that animal. A mouse, be it a "boy" mouse or a "girl" mouse, is always une souris, grammatically feminine. This is just the way the French language works. Of course it is always possible to have a special word for the male and female of a given species (e.g., "stallion" vs. "mare" for horses). I do not know if such words exist for male and female mice in French...

  12. dublin2 New Member

    Galway, Ireland
    English - Ireland
    I know this is an old thread, folks, but I was looking over an essay I submitted as part of an 'Autobiographie' module when studying French in 2007. My problem is also with the gender of a mouse (!).
    The mouse featured in a story I wrote as a child, and was definitely male.
    Here's how I put it in my essay -

    "La Souris qui Couine a couiné pour avoir du fromage.
    - Bon, j'ai dit, si c’est comme ça que tu vois les choses, nous allons rentrer chez nous pour te
    chercher du fromage.
    - Super, du fromage, j’en raffole, a-t-elle répondu"

    I suspect now that I could have put a-t-il, not elle - based on the above "a dit Matthieu à son ami" (LA souris).
    But....I'm still not 100% sure!

    Well, I know it's not very important, but I'd like to send the essay to a friend in Montreal, so I might as well get the little details just right!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2013
  13. pointvirgule

    pointvirgule Senior Member

    Mtl, QC
    Yes, dublin2, you may merrily write a-t-il, since your character is male. The fact that his species is referred to by a feminine noun has no bearing here.

    J'ai une souris qui s'appelle Gérald. Il est très gentil, c'est une bonne souris.
  14. snarkhunter

    snarkhunter Senior Member

    France, Région parisienne
    French - France

    If you really want a noun that will match the gender and your mouse is very young, you may consider using "(un) souriceau", which is for a male young mouse. Though it should now be considered rather literary. There also used to be "'(une) souricette" for female young mice, but this is not used much any longer these days!
  15. dublin2 New Member

    Galway, Ireland
    English - Ireland
    I'm fairly sure I don't want to use a literary term for "my" mouse. He was an imaginary character in my childhood, but he "lived" somewhere just round the corner (that's about as far as my childhood knowledge of my neighbourhood went!). So he was a "contemporary", not a character in a fairytale - a quick piece of internet research places the words souriceau and souricelle in works by La Fontaine and Hans Christian Anderson, so that immediately makes them seem old-fashioned.
    Thanks anyway Snarkhunter, for adding to my limited knowledge of French literary terms!
    My mouse only featured in one work ever (now, unfortunately, lost for ever to the world of literature!). But the essay I wrote in second year at NUI Maynooth celebrated him, and that time of my life, as remembered in a couple of special memories from my childhood.

    I wanted to post a link to the essay, but I received a message "New members are not allowed post links".
    Any way around that?
  16. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Note that both il (referring to the sex) and elle (referring to the gender of souris) are correct. Depending on the exact context, you may prefer one or the other. I'd say that if your male mouse has a name, it makes more sense to refer to it as il than elle. If it is just any mouse, I'd rather use elle (even for a male).

    EDIT: Just saw your last post. In that case, you should definitely refer to "your" mouse as il.

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