FR: leur / leurs


New Member
England, English
Can anyone help clarify the rules about using leur or leurs?

Is it really as simple as singular/plurals?

Moderator note: multiple threads merged to create this one.

In a nutshell:

  • If you need an indirect object, use leur (= "to them, for them"). It is invariable.
  • If you need a possessive, use leur (= "their X") or leurs (= "their Xs"). The singular leur should be used if what is owned is singular; the plural leurs should be used if it is plural.
If you need more detail, or examples, keep reading! :)
See also leur / leurs - singulier ou pluriel ? in the Français Seulement forum.
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  • It is indeed. But not so simple though as you have to bear in mind that you put an "s" to "leur" only if the word it applies to is actually in the plural form. Sorry if it sounds a bit confusing...:confused:
    Not really as simple as that. Il faut leur rendre (followed by a plural items)
    Never got the hang of it ! Do a search for rules of French grammar on google. You'll find it !
    Hello and welcome, SFS.

    I think that leur does not take the plural when it means "to them" rather than "of them/theirs."

    Je leur rends leurs choses. I (to them) give (their) things.
    Well done, Kelly !

    See, this needs a little grammatical explanation ...:confused:

    in the first instance 'leur' (invariable) is a complement of the verb. As Kelly rightly pointed out, it means 'to them' :

    J'essaie de leur expliquer.

    In the second instance, it's a possessive adjective placed before a noun with which it agrees (their) or a possessive pronoun (le leur, la leur, les leurs) which agrees with the noun it replaces.

    Leurs explications sont très claires.
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    Leur before a verb, is the plural of lui; je lui donne les clés.(I give him the keys)
    Je leur donne les clés. (I give them the keys). Therefore leur being in itself a plural does not need to carry s

    When leur accompanies a noun, it can be singular (leur) if the noun is singular or plural if the noun is plural (leurs).
    leur voiture: their car (one car and it belongs to them)
    leurs voitures: their cars (more than one car and they belong to them)

    Does it make sens?
    Kelly B said:
    Je leur rends leurs choses. I (to them) give (their) things.
    I can think of an easy explanation: The first leur is a pronoun, the second one (leurs) is an possessive adjective, thus it has to be agreed to the noun it qualifies. If the noun is plural, it will take an s, if the noun is singular, it will remain singular. Je leur rends leurs livres, mais je ne leur rends pas leur ordinateur.
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    What can also help is to put the sentence at the third personn of the singular (sorry for my english)

    Lorsque leur est le pluriel de lui : leur est invariable et ne s'accorde donc pas.

    exemple :
    je lui rends son livre> je leur rends leur livre

    Lorsque leur est un adjectif possessif : il s'accorde avec la chose possédée et non pas avec le ou les possesseurs


    je lui rends ses livres > je leur rends leurs livres
    . . . . . . . . . . PLUR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLUR

    je lui rends son livre > je leur rends leur livre
    . . . . . . . . . . SING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SING

    I hope it's clear !!!!
    Good morning,

    I am forever mixing up where to use leur or leurs. Can anybody help? Or perhaps provide a useful link to French grammar rules?

    As always, your help is greatly appreciated.

    Hi, The question is plural or not.

    two persons and one dog = eux et leur chien
    they own two or more dogs = eux et leurs chiens
    Adjectif possessif:
    Their dog = leur chien
    Their dogs = leurs chiens

    Pronoun possessif:
    It's theirs - c'est le leur
    They're theirs - ce sont les leurs

    Complément d'objet indirect:
    He gave her a dog: Il lui a donné un chien
    He gave them a dog = Il leur a donné un chien

    Does that clear things up at all, or do you want more details?
    It depends on the function of "leur" in the sentence.

    Leur can be both an indirect object pronoun (je leur parle -- I'm talking to them) or can indicate possession in front of a noun.

    e.g. Leur voiture est très sale. -- Their car is very dirty.

    Leurs simply indicates 3rd person plural possession in front of a plural noun.

    e.g. Leurs voitures sont très sales.

    Notice the difference in the verb conjugation and the adjective agreement.

    Hopefully, this helps!

    Si un couple a un enfant, on dira : Ils promènent leur enfant.
    S'ils en ont plusieurs, on dire : Ils promènent leurs enfants.
    Et on pourra aussi dire en parlant des enfants : Ce sont les leurs.

    Does it help ?
    "Leur" (invariable) is the Indirect Object Complement pronoun in the 3rd person, plural. (to them)
    "Je leur ai donné le livre" > "I gave them the book/I gave the book to them"

    Once "leur" is not a pronoun, it agrees in number with the noun it accompanies.
    When you can replace "leur(s)" by "eux/elles" it's "leur".
    When you can replace "leur(s)" by "les/ses" it's "leurs".
    When you can replace "leur(s)" by "le/son/sa" it's "leur".
    But I am afraid this rule can be useful for ... a french speaker !
    You can see here.

    I know in general how possessive adjective work in French. Sa/son for a single person who has a single thing, ses for a single person with several things, leur for many people who own one thing, and leurs for many people and many things.

    However, I am not so sure about leur/leurs. Leur is supposed to be when the object is singular, however I also often see it when each person only has one of them... e.g. leur cœur, where there is clearly more than one heart, but since each person only has one, it's in singular. But leurs cœurs is also very common (according to google.) So which is correct?

    This happens in English as well, sometimes people will say "their heart" and sometimes "their hearts". Here I consider that only "their hearts" is correct (assuming it's not the much disputed "singular they"), and "their heart" implies that "they" are all sharing the same heart. But is it the same in French? Is there a difference in connotation/usage between the two? If it is okay to say "leur cœur" when it's something that everybody knows each person only has one of, is it also okay to use leur for some other object, e.g. leur ordinateur, specifically to indicate that each person only has one of something, or would that be interpreted to mean that there is only one shared between everybody?
    Bonjour Calembourde,

    I guess that the use of "leur/leurs" is exactly the same as the one of "their/ their + -s".
    This means that "leur ordinateur" means "their computer" which signify that they are sharing one computer whereas "leurs ordinateurs" means that they all have their own computers.

    Hope that helps...

    Bon courage pour la suite de ton apprentissage (quant à moi je retourne à ma "Grammaire anglaise raisonnée de Sylvie Persec ;p") !

    Regards ^^
    I wouldn't be so affirmative. According to the rule:
    Si leur équivaut à le ou à la, il est au singulier et s’écrit leur (masculin ou féminin).[...]
    Si leur équivaut à les, il est au pluriel et s’écrit leurs (masculin ou féminin).
    in a sentence like "Il a apporté de la joie dans leurs coeurs", it should be plural, because it can be replaced by "Il a apporté de la joie dans les coeurs" and not "Il a apporté de la joie dans le coeur".
    Am I wrong?
    Aah, okay! So in the case where each person has only one of something, leur is used when you would normally use la/le (so for a body part) but never when you would normally use sa/son. It's really a grammatical rule and not just a vague thing depending on context and native-speaker intuition! :D Thanks, I have tried to find this out from native speakers outside of WordReference and nobody could state it that clearly.

    Oops I had not read OlivierG's post. I had interpreted as it being equivalent to la or le for a single possessor. Otherwise, it makes no sense to even point that out since it would be exactly the same rule as for sa or son.
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    We had already had a discussion in the French only forum about leur: leur / leurs so I won't repeat what I've already said
    I agree with Caroline (& Ploup & co in the other thread) against Olivier & Geve (& co).
    As the song goes: "Elle court, elle court la maladie d'amour dans le cœur des enfants ;)", not "les cœurs des enfants" unless they are special ETs & have several hearts :D (just kidding). But in your sentence indeed, "le" doesn't work ...
    So we had come to the conclusion that it's up to you :D If you don't want to be called stilted & old-fashioned, go for the plural, you will look cool!
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    Thanks for the link. :) Apparently the native speakers have just as much of a problem with this as I do. :D

    I would have guessed that 'dans le cœur des enfants' would mean their figurative heart(s), which symbolically could be the same heart for all of them if they all have the same maladie d'amour, whereas 'dans les cœurs des enfants' would be more likely to be about their actual, physical hearts.
    I also confuse the use of leur and whether or not it takes an s.
    I've read some threads on this topic and looked in my grammar book, did I do this right?

    Donc, les personnes qui vivent dans ces pays (pays développés) ont tendance à gaspiller l’eau quand ils prennent leurs douches dans leur maison, quand ils lavent leurs autos, quand ils brossent leurs dents et quand ils font la vaisselle.
    It takes an S when it's plural.

    But please note that in French we say « ... quand ils se brossent les dents ».
    When the word referenced by "leur" is plural.

    For "douches", since it is more used to describe an action or an habit, i would not use plural : "leur douche"

    we say "...quand je prend MA DOUCHE... " and not "...quand je prend MES DOUCHES..."
    but in english would we not say: People have a tenancy to waste when they take their showers ?

    but you would say leur maison because each person "normally" has one house, right?
    I'm not quite sure that I understand what you're saying Loneken...
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    The rule is actually pretty simple.

    When leur is in front of a noun, it has to agree with this noun. Leur is being used as an adjective.
    Leurs enfants, leur maison, leurs grands pieds...

    If leur is in front of a verb, it doesn't agree. It is being used as a pronoun, the indirect object of the verb.
    Je leur ai parlé de mes vacances. - I talked to them...
    Il leur disait la même chose.
    Le prof leur a expliqué la règle.
    j'ai appris une autre rEgle:
    quand, on a plusieurs pocesseurs, et un objet pocedeE, on utilse leur, et quand on a plusieurs pocesseurs qui detiennent plusieurs objets, on utilise leurS.
    ex: une famille a un fils, donc c'est leur fils,
    si les parents ont 2 filles, ce sont leurs filles.
    I know that in French sometimes you don't pluralize things like "leur vie" when you are talking about multiple people's lives. I don't know whether to use "leur mort" or "leurs morts" in the following sentence:

    Il suppose que tout auteur ou peintre excellent est célèbre et riche pendant sa propre vie, oubliant que plusieurs artistes, comme Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, étaient très inconnus et pauvres jusqu'à leur mort.

    Merci !
    oui, on ne meurt qu'une fois, mais c'est plutôt parce "mort" ici, est pris au sens général => "c'est la mort de tous ces artistes"
    si on met "leurs morts", cela sous-entend "les parents / les proches / les amis morts de ces artistes :)

    Which form of 'leur' would you use in the following sentence:

    'Sonia et Raphael écoutent leur/leurs CD préférés'

    Does 'préférés' reflect 'Sonia and Raphael' or the 'CD'? Or is 'CD' itself a plural?

    merci beaucoup*
    Préférés refers to the CDs.
    CD is not a plural. In French, generally, acronyms have no plural.
    The rule is that "leur" refers to the CD. If they listen their own CD on their own, then "leur", if they listen several of their CD (let's say in the afternoon), then "leurs"
    If they listen their own CD on their own, then "leur",

    Sorry, but it's the opposite
    "leur" refers to one CD both Sonia and Raphael own, or a specific one they both like (in case of lovers)
    "leurs" refers to at least one CD belonging to Sonia, and at least one CD belonging to Raphael, in a word their respective CD (at least 2)
    YES, but also "X&Y écoutent leurs CD" = each one listen to their own batch of CD, whatever their belong to both of them or to each other!
    The variety of meaning is important!
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    I seem to be getting in a bit of a tangle with leur and leurs. When should leurs be used, and has anyone got a good way of distinguishing between the two/remembering how to use them?

    Thanks lots xx
    With possessives, you need to keep track of the possessor and the possessum (possessed thing or entity) alike.

    Leur: the possessor is plural (they), the possessum is singular (il, elle, etc.)
    Leurs: the possessor is plural (they), the possessum is plural (another they).

    In other contexts, leur can also be an indirect object pronoun, meaning "[to] them".

    Good question that might embarrass more than one French student!
    The best I can think of is just give you two examples of use.
    - Knowing that "leurs" is the possessive adjective, it is followed with a pural noun if the possessor is plural:
    Les chaussures des enfants sont sales. => Ils doivent nettoyer leurs chaussures.
    - If the possessed thing is singular, it will be "leur", even if the possessor is plural. => Les parents ont remplacé leur voiture.

    - Knowing that "leur" is the personal pronoun of the third plural person, meaning to them, it is placed just before a verb.
    Les enfants aiment le chocolat. => Elle leur a donné du chocolat.

    Sorry I can think of any mnemonic way.
    I'm afraid you'll have to think about it and remember.:D
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    Qu'est-ce que le difference entre "leur" et "leurs"? Par exemple:
    "Their skin, their clothes, and their faces are all bright." = "Leur peau, leur vetement, et leurs visages sont tout brillant." Est-ce que c'est correcte?

    Actually that would be "leur peau, leurs vêtements et leur visage sont tout brillants".

    That's pretty difficult, even for a native... let me try an explanation.

    When you use "leur" as a pronoun there is no "s".
    Ex: "je leur ai dit de venir" (I told them to come)

    When you want to translate "their" it depends on what you are talking about. If you are talking about a unique thing there will be no "s" (ex: leur peau, leur visage, leur tête...).
    But if you are talking about a plural thing, then there is a "s" (ex: leurs vêtements, leurs yeux, leurs jambes...)

    I hope you understand! ;-)
    "Leur" is an indirect personal pronoun.
    "Leurs" is a possessive adjective and has to match the noun in quantity.
    Tomm0285 has given some examples of useage but beyond that I think that you need to consult a good grammar reference.
    When you are using it to mean "their", then the difference is that leur is singular and leurs is plural, so you use leur if the word following it is singular, and leurs if it's plural, exactly as you would le/la and les. It would be
    leur peau, leurs vêtements et leurs visages sont tous brillants

    As Tomm0825 has mentioned, leur can also mean "to them", in which case it doesn't need/have a singular/plural form.
    leur peau, leurs vêtements et leurs visages sont tous brillants

    Pourquoi mettre un s à leurs visage et pas à leur peau?
    Ils ont tous une seule peau, ils ont tous un seul visage.

    C'est pas simple :/

    "leur visage" and not "leurs visages" glasguensis, as we usually have only one face :)
    Je suis d'accord

    Leur peau, leurs vêtements et leur visage.
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    Une méthode très simple consiste à mettre les possesseurs au singulier :)

    Marie et Pierre : leur(s ?) peau(x ?), leur(s ?) vêtement(s ?), leur(s ?) visage(s ?). :confused:

    Pierre : sa peau, ses vêtements, son visage. :tick: (his skin, his clothes, his face)

    On voit bien que peau et visage sont au singulier, mais vêtements est au pluriel :)

    On dira donc Leur peau, leurs vêtements, leur visage.
    merci beaucoup pour vos reponses vite!

    donc, voila ma comprehension:
    (pour mon cas) leur = their
    leur visage = il y a des gens multiples avec les visage individuels.
    est-ce que c'est vrai?
    C'est ça :) Plusieurs personnes qui ont chacune un seul visage.

    En transformant leur visage de manière à ce que le possesseur ne soit qu'une seule personne, on obtient bien son visage. (Et non pas ses visages :confused:)

    Il y a aussi le cas où plusieurs personnes, formant un groupe, possèdent un seul objet.

    Les pirates ouvrèrent leur trésor (all those pirates owned a single treasure that they'll have to share).

    Ici, c'est tout de même la même structure que plus haut : Possesseurs + leur + singulier.
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