French Adjectives

French Adjectives

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French Adjectives

Learning the French Adjectives is very important because its structure is used in every day conversation. The more you master it the more you get closer to mastering the French language. But first we need to know what the role of Adjectives is in the structure of the grammar in French.

An adjective is any of a class of words used to modify a noun or other substantive, as by describing qualities of the entity denoted, stating its limits or quantity, or distinguishing it from others.  In French, adjectives agree in number and gender with the noun or pronoun that they modify.  Consequently, they possess four different forms:  masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural, feminine plural.

Feminine Singular

 

In general, the feminine singular is formed simply by adding an –e to the end of the basic masculine form.  So, for example, petit becomes petite, abondant becomes abondante, grand becomes grande, and joli becomes jolie, vrai becomes vraie, and pointu becomes pointue.

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, already ends in an –e, then there is no change.  So, for example, aimable remains aimable, pâle remains pâle, rouge remains rouge, jaune remains jaune, pauvre remains pauvre, brave remains brave, jeune remains jeune, and malade remains malade.

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in an –on or –ien, then the feminine singular is formed by doubling the final consonant and adding an –e.  So, for example, bon becomes bonne, and ancien becomes ancienne.

 

Likewise, if the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in an –el, –ul or –eil, then the feminine singular is formed by doubling the final consonant and adding an –e.  So, for example, cruel becomes cruelle, nul becomes nulle, and pareil becomes pareille.

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in an –er, then the feminine singular is formed by converting the –e that precedes the –r to an –è and adding an –e to the end of the word.  So, for example, cher becomes chère, dernier becomes dernière, fier become fière, and léger becomes légère.

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in an –f, then the feminine singular is formed by changing the –f to a –ve.  So, for example, neuf becomes neuve, vif becomes vive, naïf becomes naïve, actif becomes active, passif becomes passive, and positif becomes positive

However, there are exceptions.  For example, bref becomes brève.  

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in an –et, then the feminine singular is formed by doubling the final consonant and adding an –e.  So, for example, coquet becomes coquette, muet becomes muette, and net becomes nette

However, this is not always the case.  Certain adjectives in this category follow a different declension, in which the –et is changed to an –ète.  Examples include:  completcomplète; incompletincomplète; concretconcrète; désuetdésuète; discretdiscrète; inquietinquiète; secretsecrète. 

 

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in an –ot, then the feminine singular is formed by adding an –e.  So, for example, idiot becomes idiote

Here again, there are exceptions:  pâlotpâlotte; sotsotte; vieillotvieillotte.

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in an –x, then the feminine singular is formed by changing the –x to an –seSo, for example, nerveux becomes nerveuse, heureux becomes heureuse, sérieux becomes sérieuse, and jaloux becomes jalouse. However, there are exceptions:  douxdouce; fauxfausse; rouxrousse;

vieuxvieille.

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in an –s, then the feminine singular is formed by adding an –e.  So, for example, gris becomes grise

Needless to say, there are exceptions:  basbasse; grasgrasse; épaisépaisse; fraisfraîche.

 

If the adjective, in its basic masculine form, ends in a –c, then the feminine singular is formed by changing the –c to a –che.  So, for example, franc becomes franche, and blanc becomes blanche

Exceptions exist:  secsèche; publicpublique; turcturque; grecgrecque; chicchic.

 

 

Here are some more examples:

English AdjectivesFrench Adjectives
adjectivesadjectifs
a green treeun arbre vert
a tall buildingun grand bâtiment
a very old manun très vieil homme
the old red housela vieille maison rouge
a very nice friendun ami très gentil

As you can see from the example above, the structure of the Adjectives in French has a logical pattern. Locate the Adjectives above and see how it works with the rest of the sentence in French.

Grammar Tips:

While in English an adjective doesn’t change when the noun changes, in French an adjective should agree in gender and number with the noun. For example:

a)    Masculine to feminine example:

C’est mon petit garçon (this is my little son) becomes: C’est ma petite fille (this is my little daughter)

As you can see from the example above, the adjective comes before the noun and also takes the feminine form.

b)    Singular to plural example:

C’est mon chat blanc (this is my white cat) becomes: Ce sont mes chats blancs (these are my white cats).

As you can see from the example above, the adjective comes after the noun and also takes the plural form.

Be careful though for colors, if the adjective is also a noun, it doesn’t take an (s). If the color is formed by two words, no (s) either and finally if the object described has more than one color, no (s) for the adjective. See the following examples:

 

Une chaussette orange (one orange sock) becomes: Deux chaussettes orange (two orange socks) as orange is also a fruit.

Une chemise bleu foncé (a dark blue shirt) becomes: Des chemises bleu foncé (dark blue shirts)

Une chaussure blanc et noir (a white and black shoe) becomes: Des chaussures blanc et noir (white and black shoes)


List of Adjectives in French

Below is a list of the Adjectives, Colors, Shapes, Sizes in French placed in a table. Memorizing this table will help you add very useful and important words to your French vocabulary.

English AdjectivesFrench Adjectives
colorscouleurs
blacknoir
bluebleu
brownbrun
graygris
greenvert
orangeorange
purpleviolet
redrouge
whiteblanc
yellowjaune
sizestailles
biggrand
deepprofond
longlong
narrowétroit
shortcourt
smallpetit
tallhaut
thicképais
thinmince
widelarge
shapesformes
circularcirculaire
straighttout droit
squarecarré
triangulartriangulaire
tastesles goûts
bitteramer
freshfrais
saltysalé
souraigre
spicyépicé
sweetdoux
qualitiesqualités
badmauvais
cleanpropre
darksombre
difficultdifficile
dirtysale
drysec
easyfacile
emptyvide
expensivecher
fastrapide
foreignétranger
fullplein
goodbon
harddur
heavylourd
inexpensivepeu coûteux
lightléger
locallocal
newnouveau
noisybruyant
oldvieux
powerfulpuissant
quietcalme
correctcorrect
slowlent
softdoux
verytrès
weakfaible
wethumide
wrongfaux
youngjeune
quantitiesquantités
fewpeu
littlepeu
manybeaucoup
muchbeaucoup
partpartie
somecertains
a fewquelques
wholeensemble

Position of Adjectives

 

In general, adjectives follow the noun or nouns that they serve to modify. 

There are, however, exceptions:  beau, bon, court, gentil, grand, gros, haut, jeune, joli, long, mauvais, méchant, meilleur, moindre, petit, pire, vieux, and vilain.

 

Some adjectives possess a different meaning depending on their position.  Here is a brief list of examples:

 

  • ancien:  if ancien precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “former”; if, on the other hand, ancien follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “ancient”;

 

  • brave:  if brave precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “good”; if, on the other hand, brave follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “brave”;

 

  • certain:  if certain precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “some”; if, on the other hand, certain follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “sure”;

 

  • cher:  if cher precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “dear”; if, on the other hand, cher follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “expensive”;

 

  • dernier:  if dernier precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “last” (as in final); if, on the other hand,  dernier follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “last” (as in latest);

 

  • grand:  if grand precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “great”; if, on the other hand, grand follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “big” or “tall”;

 

  • même:  if même precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “same”; if, on the other hand, même follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “very”;

 

  • pauvre:  if pauvre precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “poor” (as in pitiable); if, on the other hand, pauvre follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “poor” (as in not rich);

 

  • propre:  if  propre precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “own”; if, on the other hand,  propre follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “clean”;

 

  • seul:  if seul  precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “single” or “only”; if, on the other hand, seul  follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “alone” or “lonely”;

 

  • simple:  if  simple precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “mere”; if, on the other hand, simple  follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “simple”;

 

  • vrai:  if vrai precedes the noun that it serves to modify, it means “real”; if, on the other hand, vrai follows the noun that it serves to modify, it means “true”.

Adjectives, Colors, Shapes, Sizes have a very important role in French, therefore they need very special attention. Once you're done with French Adjectives, you might want to check the rest of our French lessons here: Learn French. Don't forget to bookmark this page.


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