Read two books. One used ma petite and one used mon petite. What’s the difference?
I thought it was: “ma petite” and “mon petit”.
Ma petite is feminine, and mon petit is masculine.
Depends on who’s being addressed. It literally translates as “my little (one)” – and would be masculine or feminine according as which gender the little one is. A mother might use “mon petit” of her son, or “ma petite” of her daughter.
Szlater has it right. It would be a term of endearment for a female or a male respectively. Note that the ma/mon changes with respect to the grammatical gender of the noun it modifies (understood, in this case), as does petite/petit, an adjective.
Was one of them a Laurell K. Hamilton, by chance?
Oh, and they both were terms used by a man for a woman.
“Ma petite amie” is a way of saying “my girlfriend” and “mon petit ami” is a way of saying “my boyfriend”, although it always strikes me as odd to refer to your SO as your “little friend”. Plus, I get a mental Sacrface’s “Say hello to my little friend” image.
It would, I think, be possible to refer to a female SO as mon petit if the phrase actually in mind were something like mon petit chou (“my litttle cabbage,” sometimes used as a term of endearment in French), instead of ma petite amie, since *chou * is masculine. I don’t know if this is frequently done in practice, however, and perhaps a native speaker can comment.
In Romance languages, the form of the modifiers will change depending on the gender of the noun the speaker has in mind, even if the noun itself is not expressed.
I’d just like to point out that I wince every time I see “Le Petite Cafe” [sic] in Hermosa Beach.
I’ve often heard “mon petit” used while speaking to refer to a girl or women coming from, say, a grandmother or someone in charge of you.
I’m not a native speaker, but my wife is fluent in French, and says this is correct. Mon petit chou is a very common term of endearment, and applies to males or females.
Just remember, though, that it is both “mon ami” and “mon amie”, even though the latter is feminine. It is a little like “a” changing to a “an” in English before a vowel sound, a purely phonetic change.
I wouldn’t say it’s “very common”. I would suspect some kind of irony or teasing if I were called that way. But indeed, not only it can be used for both males and females, despite “chou” being masculine, but it’s probably more commonly used for females.
Thinking twice, I think it’s the “petit” part which is the problem. Men don’t like much being called “little” something, and women don’t call them often that way, while the reverse happen more often.
I would add that besides being a cabbage, a “chou” is also a puffy pastry filled with cream. That’s always what I have in mind when I hear “chou” as a term of endearment, though I’ve no clue how it actually originated or what other people have in mind.
By the way “petite amie/petit ami” isn’t a term of endearment. It just means “girlfriend/boyfriend”. Also, it’s more rarely used nowadays, and most people just say “mon copain/ma copine” (litterally “my buddy”, I think), or simply “mon ami”, removing the “petit”, or sometimes just the equivalent of “my man” (mon mec). Nowadays, I hear “petit ami” used mostly to refer to the boyfriend of young teens or even kids, IOW, for a relationship which isn’t taken very seriously (“Alors, tu as deja un petit ami?”). Same with “petit copain”.
Yet another evidence that one doesn’t notice the oddities of one’s language. Despite it being sooo common I never payed attention to this. Weird.