Use notre/nos when on means we, but son/sa/ses when it means people (possessive adjectives)

On est son propre maître.
One is one's own master 

On aime toujours sa famille.
One always loves one's family. / People always love their family.

On mange notre repas.
We are eating our meal.

On porte nos sacs
We are carrying our bags.

Possessive phrases containing on can use either : 

- son/sa/ses if on is used in a general sense (one, people)
or
-notre/nos when on means we

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

ON - "we"


On mange notre repas.
We are eating our meal.


On porte nos sacs
We are carrying our bags.


ON - general meaning, "one"/"people"


On aime toujours sa famille.
One always loves one's family. / People always love their family.


On est son propre maître.
One is one's own master 


Q&A Forum 3 questions, 6 answers

How to determine if it's a general statement

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Cathy , 

You can also think 'people' or 'in general' to the general rather than specific statements.

Hope this helps!

Hi Cathy,

if substituting "one" for "on" makes more sense than "we", it is a general statement. For example:


On prend nos vacances l'été. -- We take our vacation in summer (we = us in particular).
On prend ses vacances l'été. -- One takes one's vacation in summer (we = in general).

I hope that helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker).

How to determine if it's a general statement

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on nous vs on se?

For reflexive verbs, is it always on se or can it be on nous? For example, we talk (to each other) everyday = on se parle tous les jours. Can it be on nous parle?
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Dzoan,

I can confirm the reflexive pronoun for on/il/elle  is 'se'.

On se parle tous les jours. = We speak to each other every day.

On nous parle tous les jours = They speak to us every day.

Hope this helps!

I have only ever encountered "on se....". You are, of course, free to say "Nous nous parlon...." but you already knew that, I am sure. -- Chris (not a native speaker).
JimC1
Hi Dzoan, "On" can only take the reflexive pronoun "se". "Nous" only takes the reflexive pronoun "nous". It is incorrect to mix these pronouns in the way you ask -- "On nous parle tous les jours" is not correct -- it has to be "On se parle ------" Regards, Alan (Non native speaker)

on nous vs on se?

For reflexive verbs, is it always on se or can it be on nous? For example, we talk (to each other) everyday = on se parle tous les jours. Can it be on nous parle?

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Why use notre and not nos

I can't see how to decide which to use when used in this context
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Andrew ! Unfortunately here I cannot see the example you're referring to, but here's the rule for using "notre" vs "nos" : - if the noun following is plural, "our dogS", then you use "nos" -> "nos chiens" - if the noun following is singular, "our cat", then you use "notre" -> "notre chat" Here's a link to the related lesson: Notre, nos, votre, vos, leur, leurs = our, your, their (possessive adjectives) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Why use notre and not nos

I can't see how to decide which to use when used in this context

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