I just sort of realized that there doesn't seem to be a French counterpart for the English verb to own, and that it's expressed instead through the phrases in the title, which in English would be the slightly awkward "to be the proprietor of" and "to be the property of."

Are those really the most common ways of expressing the verb to own ?

(I know you would also express ownership with C'est à moi, c'est le mien, etc, but that's not using a verb and is not the same as the action to own.)

  • On peut aussi dire « posséder ». Selon le cas on dira « Je suis propriétaire » ou « je possède ».
    – None
    Aug 12, 2016 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


Just like in English ("to own, "to belong", "to be the property of, "to possess" etc.), possession can be expressed in many ways in French.

The best way to translate "to own" in French is "posséder" (also "to possess").

The following are somewhat equivalent in context:

Je possède une voiture. (best)

Je suis (le*) propriétaire d'une voiture.

J'ai une voiture. (simplest)

(*) "Le" is usually used when the object is specified ("Je suis le propriétaire de cette voiture")

In the same fashion, if something is you property ("belongs to you", "is owned by you", the best way to express it is by using "appartenir."

The following are somewhat equivalent in this context:

Cette voiture m'appartient. (best)

Cette voiture est ma propriété.

Cette voiture est à moi / C'est ma voiture. (simplest)

A word of caution though: "appartenir" does not always mean "to be owned by." Sometimes, it means "to be a part of."

L'être humain appartient au groupe des mamifères.

There are more meanings to the verb "appartenir", which are related - see example of uses at https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/appartenir - and some other for "posséder", but the ones in this answer are the main ones.


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