French parts of the body
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Le corps

Knowing the parts of the body can come in handy when playing sports, clothes shopping, seeing the doctor, and more. Learn how to talk about your body in French, from head to toe.

le corps   body
des cheveux   hair
une tête   head
un crâne   skull, head
un visage   face
un œil
des yeux
un nez   nose
une joue   cheek
une bouche
une gueule
une lèvre   lip
une dent   tooth
une oreille   ear
un cou   neck
une gorge   throat
une poitrine   chest
un cœur   heart
un estomac   stomach
un bras   arm
une épaule   shoulder
un coude   elbow
un poignet   wrist
une main   hand
un doigt   finger
un ongle   fingernail
un pouce   thumb
un dos   back
une jambe   leg
un genou   knee
une cheville   ankle
un pied   foot
un orteil   toe

 In French, possessive adjectives are usually not used to indicate the owner of any given body part. Instead, we use a reflexive pronoun plus a definite article.

Par exemple…

Je me lave le visage.   I’m washing my face.
Quand est-ce que tu t’es cassé le bras ?   When did you break your arm?

But of course there are exceptions: Using possessive adjectives with parts of the body

 Related lessons

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Parts of the body in French

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10 Responses

  1. Helen Whelan Whelan 19 January 2018 / 13:27

    Which is correct for saying, I wish my hair was thick:
    “Je souhaite que les cheveux soient épais” or,
    ” Je souhaite que les cheveux me soient epais?”

    I’m wondering if you need reflexive pronouns in cases like this and how that works if you’re using the subjunctive.

    Thank you!

    • lkl 21 January 2018 / 10:54

      No, you’d just use the possessive adjective in this case: Je souhaite que mes cheveux soient épais.

      Reflexive pronouns are used in all verb tenses/moods (assuming that the verb is pronominal).

      Tu vas t’en aller ?
      Il faut que tu t’en ailles.
      Il a fallu que tu t’en sois allé.


  2. David Au 1 February 2017 / 22:30

    Bonjour Laura, bonjour tout le monde!
    “Je leve les mains” (I raise my hands.)
    “Il se lave les mains” (He washes his hands.)
    The explanation for why the 2nd is reflexive is “an action done to a body part”, whereas, in the former, it is “an action done by or with a body part”. Is that correct? Merci à l’avance !

  3. Ann 7 October 2014 / 17:49

    I have a question about the verb form in the example you give above, “Quand est-ce que tu t’es casse le bras?” (BTW, I know there should be an accent over the “e” in “casse” but I’m too lazy to look up how to get my keyboard to comply.) Isn’t the passe compose of casser formed with avoir, not etre? So wouldn’t it be “…tu t’as casse le bras?” What am I misunderstanding? Maybe this is not the passe compose. Or maybe the example contained a typo. Thank you for your help and your wonderful site. I will mention it to my Intermediate French classmates. And if you answer my question, I will definitely buy you a book from your wish list. (I’d planned to anyway!) Merci beaucoup!

    • lkl 7 October 2014 / 17:59

      You’re right that the auxiliary verb for casser is avoir, and that tu t’es cassé is the passé composé. What’s different here is that the verb is not casser, but rather se casser: it’s pronominal, and all pronominal verbs require être in the compound tenses. Here are some lessons you might find helpful:

    • Ann 7 October 2014 / 18:03

      I just realized that the verb form in the passe compose is “se casser”–not casser, and that makes all the difference. Light dawns! Anyway, I’m going to your wish list now. Merci encore–if that’s an expression!

  4. Stephen 7 October 2014 / 7:28

    Do you use reflexive pronouns to refer to possessed body parts that are the direct or indirect object? Like “I am brushing her hair”?

    • lkl 7 October 2014 / 7:33

      Good question! No, because by definition reflexive pronouns refer to oneself. When talking about someone else’s body, the body part is the direct object and the owner is the indirect object: Je brosse les cheveux à elleJe lui brosse les cheveux.