Fortunately, in today's lesson, you will find some rules that will make it easier for you to understand how to place and use French adjectives.
In English, adjectives are easy to use. You put them before the nouns they describe, and you are done. So, you would say "a greenhouse" or "a blue bag."
However, in French, the positions of adjectives vary. So, you would say "une maison verte" (lit: a house green) or "un sac bleu" (lit: a bag blue). If this is not enough to puzzle you, French adjectives will also vary depending on whether the noun they describe is feminine, masculine, singular, or plural.
It Goes Before the Noun If…
Remember this little acronym: B-A-N-G-S.
Beauty: Adjectives like beau – beautiful and joli (e) – pretty go before the noun as they are describing beauty.
Age: Adjectives like Vieux/Vieille – old and jeune – young go before the noun.
Numbers: Well, they go in front of the noun
Goodness: Adjectives that we use to say how bad or good something is, like mauvais(e) – bad and bon(ne) – good, will go before the noun.
Size: Adjectives like haut(e) – high, gros(se) – fat and petit(e) – small are front-runners as well.
EXCEPTION: Grand(e) used before oneself means “great,” as in un grand homme (a great man), but after oneself means tall. So un homme grand is “a tall man.”
If you have learned a little French, then you will know the terrible feminine and masculine words, and you may even have heard of the same adjectives. French adjectives must correspond to the person speaking, so men are "grand" (tall), and women are "grande." Add "e" to make it a female adjective.
It may sound quite simple, but the French also have masculine and feminine things! Over time, you will learn to recognize the gender of words. Sometimes there are rules, and sometimes you must know what is feminine and masculine.
Here are some examples of French adjectives (feminine and masculine) with nouns that you may already know:
It is a list of the most common descriptive French words. If you add the letter "e" to the end of the word, it will become their feminine equivalent:
For example, "petit" (small) will become "petite." Likewise, when a word ends in a vowel, then a consonant, we must double the last letter before adding the 'e.' For example, bon/bonne, gentil/gentille.
Note: Some adjectives change entirely when they become feminine. For example, as you saw above, "beau" becomes "belle."
Some French adjectives do not have the equivalent of the feminine. Many of these are French adjectives that already end with the letter 'e.' Here are some common examples of adjectives that stay the same for both genders:
Once you have mastered the masculine and feminine forms, you need to understand the French adjective agreement for plural nouns. Simply put, when we add an "s" to a noun to make it plural, we also need to add an "s" to the adjective.
Two big lakes– Deux grands lacs
The pink shoes– Les chaussures roses
Of course, this is the French we are talking about, and things have never been as simple as people imagined! We have seen the feminine gender, we have seen the plural, and now we need to combine the two to create the feminine plural.
Here is a revision of when to use French adjective agreement with the word "petit":
When using plural feminine and masculine objects or talking about females and males, always the default is masculine (e.g., little children = les petits enfants).
|French Adjectives Masculine, Feminine Or Common||English|
|bon – bonne||good or well|
|mignon - mignonne||cute|
|mauvais – mauvaise||bad|
|joli – jolie||pretty|
|gentil – gentille||nice|
|fort – forte||strong|
|effrayé – effrayée||scared|
|fâché – fâchée||angry|
|cher – chère||expensive|
|courageux – courageuse||brave|
|désorienté – désorientée||confused|
|ambitieux - ambitieuse||ambitious|
|épuisé – épuisée||exhausted|
|fatigué – fatiguée||tired|
|gros – grosse||fat; heavy|
|libre||free – available|
|meilleur – meilleure||better|
|nouveau - nouvelle||new|
|léger - légère||light|
|navré – navrée||sorry|
|pareil – pareille||the same|
|pressé – pressée||in a hurry|
|prêt – prête||ready|
|ravi – ravie||delighted|
|travailleur – travailleuse||hardworking|
|vieux – vieille||old|
|méchant – méchante||mean|
|inquiet – inquiète||worried|
|haut – haute||high|
|bas – basse||low|
|beau – belle||beautiful|
|doux - douce||Soft|
|clair - claire||clear|
|très beau - belle||very beautiful|
|dernier - dernière||latest|
|seul - seule||only|
|sérieux - sérieuse||serious|
|Masculine – Feminine 0r Common||English|
|grand - grande||big|
|petit - petite||little|
|heureux - heureuse||happy|
|méchant - méchante||mean|
|poli - polie||polite|
|impoli - impolie||impolite|
|gros - grosse||fat|
|intelligent - intelligente||smart|
|intéressant - intéressante||interesting|
|ennuyeux - ennuyeuse||boring|
|strict - stricte||Strict|
|malheureux - malheureuse||Unhappy|
|émotif - émotive||Emotional|
|chaud - chaude||Hot|
|English Phrases||French Phrases|
|A delicious meal||Un repas délicieux (masculine singular)|
|A delicious pie||Une tarte délicieuse (feminine singular)|
|It is a good restaurant||C’est un bon restaurant (masculine singular)|
|It is a good idea||C’est une bonne idée (feminine singular)|
|My boyfriend is Australian||Mon copain est australien (masculine singular)|
|The old lady is here||La vieille femme est ici (feminine singular)|
|He is a handsome guy||C’est un bel homme (masculine singular)|
That's it, and you now know the most common French adjectives. Practice will enable you to speak fluent French.
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