The French Adjective of Color - Les Adjectifs de Couleurs

girl in red dress with multi-colored umbrella
Henrik Sorensen/Prestige/Getty Images

So, we've studied the clothes in French, the adjectives of texture, the shoes, so now, let's look at yet another clothes-related essential: the colors.

I will list here the common colors. Of course, we also use “abricot” or “turquoise”, "ambre" or "avocat"... If you are a color fan, check out: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_de_couleurs

Les couleurs - colors

  • Beige - beige
  • Noir - black
  • Bleu - blue
  • Brown - marron (invariable)
  • Golden - doré
  • Green - vert
  • Grey - gris
  • Multicolore- multicolored
  • Orange - orange (invariable)
  • Pink - rose
  • Purple - violet (violette)
  • Red - rouge
  • Silver - argenté
  • Transparent - transparent
  • White - blanc (blanche)
  • Yellow - jaune

Nuances

To nuance these adjectives, we also use these other adjectives:

  • Light - clair

  • Dark - foncé

  • Bright – Vif (feminine vive)

  • Pale - pâle

French Color Adjectives and Names of Stones, Fruits, Flowers etc...

Adjectives coming from nouns of fruits, precious stones or flowers are invariable, in general. Some common colors coming from fruits/ stones / flowers include:

  • Marron (horse chestnut)
  • Noisette (hazelnut)
  • Olive (olive)
  • Citron (lemon)
  • Orange (orange)
  • Abricot (apricot)
  • Lavande (lavender)
  • Fuschia (fuschia)
  • Turquoise (turquoise)
  • Brique (brick)
  • Bronze (bronze)
  • And the list goes on and on...

Because these do not change, you would say:

  • Des cravates orange – orange ties (not oranges)
  • Des yeux marron – brown eyes (not marrons)
  • Des yeux noisette – hazel eyes (not noisettes)
  • Des fleurs fuschia  - fuschia color flowers (not fuschia/e/s)
  • Des chaussures citron - lemon color shoes (not citron/e/s)
  • Des  pantalons cerise - cherry color pants (not cerises)

Except for “pourpre (purple red), mauve, rose, écarlate (scarlet red), fauve (fawn), incarnat (crimson red)” which agree with the number and gender of the noun they modify.

  • Des chaussures roses – pink shoes

Why are these exceptions? I don't know, it makes very little sense if you ask me... and many French people may not know these exceptions... or the rule itself actually!

I would add that "une violette" is a flower, but we do say "des chaussures violettes"... so.... The rule may not be super consistent!

When Several Adjectives Form One Single Color in French

When a color uses several colors, or an adjective of nuance, then the color adjectives are invariable.

  • Une Chemise bleu vert (not bleue verte)
  • Des yeux gris bleu (not gris bleus) 
  • Une robe vert pâle. (not verte pâle) 

Voilà, now you are ready to practice this all in my "learn French In Context Lesson" - Shopping for Clothes in a French Shop - Au magasin. 

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