Advanced french adjectives

Advanced french adjectives


Compound Adjectives
1. Except for adjectives of color, when each of the two parts of the compound adjective modifies
the noun, both adjectives agree with the noun.
une fille sourde-muette a deaf-mute girl
2. When the first part of the compound adjective ends in -o or -i, this part of the adjective is invariable.
une pie`ce tragi-comique a tragicomic play
des lois anglo-saxonnes Anglo-Saxon laws
3. If the compound adjective is formed with an invariable word plus an adjective, only the adjective
agrees with the noun.
des pays nord-africains North African countries
I’avant-dernie`re fois the next-to-the-last time
des pays sous-de´veloppe´s underdeveloped countries
4. If the first term of the compound adjective has an adverbial quality, it is invariable.
des enfants nouveau-ne´s newborn children
les feneˆtres grandes ouvertes wide-open windows
des fraises fraıˆches cueillies freshly picked strawberries


Position of Adjectives
Normally, most adjectives follow the noun in French, particularly:
1. those indicating color or shape
une robe bleue a blue dress
une maison carre´e a square house
2. adjectives of nationality, origin, religion, profession, or classification, or those that refer to the arts
une fille franc¸ aise a French girl
une peinture parisienne a Parisian painting
une e´ glise catholique a Catholic church
une ville municipale a municipal city
une e´cole secondaire a secondary school
le parti libe´ral the Liberal party
I’art classique classical art
le style roman Romanesque style
3. those formed from a past or present participle
la porte ouverte the open door
une vie anime´e a lively life
la semaine passe´e last week
4. those modified by an adverb
une conversation comple`tement beˆ te a completely stupid conversation
The following adjectives normally precede the noun.
autre other vilain ugly, naughty
jeune young bon good
meˆme same grand big, great
court* short gros fat
haut high, tall long long
joli pretty gentil* nice
mauvais bad beau beautiful, handsome
me´chant{ bad, naughty nouveau new
meilleur* better, best vieux old
petit small vrai* true


For emphasis many of these adjectives can be placed after the noun.
une fille jeune a young girl (a girl still young)
When these adjectives are modified by short adverbs, they can either precede or follow the noun.
un homme tre`s beau
un tre` s bel homme
When the adjective precedes the noun, the s or x is pronounced z before a word beginning with a
de nouveaux^e´tudiants
les autres^amis
Grand is linked to a word beginning with a vowel with a t sound.
un grand^ami
Long is linked to a word beginning with a vowel with a k sound.
un long^entretien
In the plural, des becomes de or d’ before an adjective that precedes a noun.
un nouveau roman a new novel
de nouveaux romans some new novels
When an adjective is an integral part of the noun, the article is des.
des jeunes filles some young girls
des petits pois some peas
des jeunes gens young people
When two adjectives are used together, they retain their usual position.
une jolie robe bleue a pretty blue dress
When two adjectives have the same position, they can be joined by the conjunction et.
une femme inte´ressante et intelligente
If an adjective is an integral part of the noun, another adjective can precede without using the
conjunction et.
un petit jeune homme
un parfait honneˆte homme
When an adjective that is pronounced differently in the feminine and in the masculine forms
modifies one or more nouns of different genders, place the masculine nouns closest to the adjective.
des questions et des proble`mes sociaux social questions and problems
The following adjectives that usually follow the noun can be placed before the noun in order to
make a more personal or subjective statement.
ce´ le`bre famous
e´norme huge, enormous


excellent excellent
fameux famous
formidable wonderful
magnifique magnificent
terrible terrible
triste sad
un peintre ce´ le`bre a famous painter (accepted fact)
un ce´ le`bre peintre a famous painter (my opinion)


Adjectives that Change Meaning According to Position
Some adjectives have a different meaning depending on whether they precede or follow the noun.
amer une ame`re expe´rience a bitter (painful) experience
un gouˆ t amer a bitter taste
ancien un ancien professeur a former teacher
un professeur ancien an old (ancient) teacher
bon un homme bon a kind man
un bon homme a good man
brave un brave homme a good fellow, a kind man
un homme brave a courageous man
certain un certain risque a certain risk, some risk
un risque certain an unquestionable risk
une certaine e´ le´gance a particular elegance
une e´ le´gance certaine an indisputable elegance
un certain jour one day
cher un cher ami a dear friend
une robe che`re an expensive dress
dernier la dernie`re semaine de l’anne´e the last week of the year
la semaine dernie`re last week
diffe´rent diffe´rentes personnes various persons
des personnes diffe´rentes different persons
divers diverses circonstances several circumstances
des circonstances diverses various circumstances
faux une fausse note a note out of tune
une note fausse a wrong note
grand un grand e´crivain a great writer
un e´crivain grand a tall writer
honneˆte une honneˆte femme a virtuous woman
une femme honneˆte an honest woman
jeune un jeune homme a young man
un homme jeune a man still young
maigre une maigre existence a poor, meager existence
une femme maigre a thin (skinny) woman
malhonneˆte un malhonneˆte homme a dishonest man
un homme malhonneˆte a rude man


meˆme la meˆme chose the same thing
la chose meˆme the thing itself
le jour meˆme the very day
meˆme le professeur even the teacher
moyen le Moyen Aˆ ge the Middle Ages
l’aˆ ge moyen middle age
nouveau une nouvelle robe a new (different) dress
une robe nouvelle a new (style) dress
pauvre un pauvre garc¸on a poor (unfortunate) boy
un garc¸on pauvre a poor (penniless) boy
prochain la prochaine fois the next time
la semaine prochaine next week
propre sa propre chambre his (her) own room
une chambre propre a clean room
les propres termes the very, actual words
les termes propres the right terms
sale un sale homme a bad man
un homme sale a dirty (physically) man
seul une seule personne only one person
une personne seule a single person
triste un triste livre a poor, worthless book
un livre triste a sad book
vilain un vilain personnage a disagreeable character
un personnage vilain an ugly character
vrai une vraie histoire quite a story
une histoire vraie a true story





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