Salut! I was watching a French TV show and a woman said "Il possède pas des animaux." That make me start thinking- when do you use avoir vs. posséder? Would you use posséder more to describe possession of physical things? Does it still make sense to say "Il n'a pas des animaux"?

  • Are you sure of the des? Il possède pas d'animaux would be more expected.
    – jlliagre
    Mar 10, 2022 at 1:10
  • posséder means to own, avoir means to have. However, in French, you can "posséder" immaterial things, like goodness or intelligence (bonté). In English, also: he possesses a good deal of intelligence.
    – Lambie
    Mar 10, 2022 at 16:10
  • @jlliagre oh gosh why is it d’ if it’s plural? Mar 11, 2022 at 2:16
  • Because of the negation. Most of the times, des becomes de in negative sentences: Il a des cheveux blancsIl n'a pas de cheveux blancs.
    – jlliagre
    Mar 11, 2022 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


You generally use posséder for something that has some value, that is part of your wealth, often something that you bought, earned or inherited.

Avoir doesn't imply anything like that although it can always be used instead of posséder.

For example, if you rent a car, you can say j'ai une voiture rouge but not je possède une voiture rouge.

I believe the difference is the same than the one between to own and to have however, sometimes posséder is used for something that still has some value but isn't material; e.g. Il possède un don pour la musique (He is gifted in music.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.