FR: male mouse - la souris, il/elle + accord de l'adjectif

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by Country Joy, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. Country Joy New Member

    Australia English
    I am wanting to write a children's story in French about male mouse. How do I describe this character, since "mouse" in French is "la souris" but the character is male. Which adjectival form do I use... masculine or feminine? or is there a specific vocab. word for male mouse?

    Moderator note: Multiple threads merged to create this one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2016
  2. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    As far as I know, adjectives in French agree with the word, rather than with the concept. So, unless someone comes up with a word for a Daddy mouse, it looks like you're stuck with feminine agreement.
  3. Argyll Senior Member

    You might make your mouse 'un mulot' (a field mouse).
  4. Agent Literary

    Agent Literary Senior Member

    Paris, France
    England, English
    Hello Country Joy and welcom to the forum!

    You could get around the problem by talking about "le souriceau" which is a baby mouse and possibly even more appropriate for a children's story. I don't know if there is a specific French word for a male mouse, but I think if you gave the mouse a typically male French name, you would be fine to talk about "la souris".

    Hope that helps :)
  5. Country Joy New Member

    Australia English
    Thank you for those alternative words- very helpful! Question though, for Mickey Mouse in French translations, was he referred to as "la souris" and if so, was his pronoun "elle"? That wouldn't read correctly surely? Were his adjectives feminine or masculine?
  6. sandrine75 Senior Member

    French, France
    Or use "souris" as a surname. Say "monsieur Souris".
    "Monsieur Souris est content etc..."
    "Monsieur et Madame Souris..."
    "Monsieur Souris et ses enfants..."
  7. VIBRIS New Member

    France, français

    In French there is no specific word for "male mouse", but as you want to write a children story you should say "Monsieur Souris".

  8. Argyll Senior Member

    He is referred to as 'il', which is not a problem in French, as the target audience are blissfully unaware that 'a mouse' is 'une souris'. They would probably pronounce it 'mooz' and think it is a funny surname.
  9. Drechuin Senior Member

    France ; french
    For example "Mickey Mouse est une belle souris. Il est l'ami de Pluto".
  10. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    Oui, Mickey est une souris américaine !
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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? :)
  15. 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

    if it helps
    heres the context
    a dit Matthieu à son ami(e) (Matthieu's friend is the mouse)
  16. 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. […]

    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.
  17. 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?
  18. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Correct. :thumbsup: :)
  19. 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.
  20. 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...

  21. 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
  22. pointvirgule

    pointvirgule Senior Member

    Mtl, QC
    langue française
    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.
  23. 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!
  24. 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?
  25. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Note that both il (referring to the sex of the mouse) and elle (referring to the gender of souris) are correct. Depending on the exact context, you may prefer one or the other. If the male mouse has a name – hence is probably referred to as he/him rather than it in English – it makes more sense to use 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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