Languages › French Understanding and Using French Adjectives (Adjectifs) Share Flipboard Email Print Ababsolutum / Getty Images French Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Resources For Teachers By ThoughtCo Updated November 04, 2019 An adjective is a word that modifies a noun by describing it in some way: shape, color, size, nationality, etc. Differences Between French and English Adjectives French adjectives are very different from English adjectives in two ways: French adjectives change to agree in gender and number with the nouns that they modify, which means there can be up to four forms of each adjective: Adjective: "pretty" joli Masculine singular joli Feminine singular jolie Masculine plural jolis Feminine plural jolies In English, adjectives are always found in front of the noun, but most French adjectives follow the noun they modify: "green book" un livre vert "smart teacher" un professeur intelligent But there are some French adjectives that precede the noun: "handsome boy" un beau garçon "small glass" un petit verre Agreement of Regular French Adjectives (Accord des adjectifs réguliers) French adjectives change to agree in gender and number with the nouns that they modify, which means there can be up to four forms of each adjective. The different forms for adjectives depend mostly on the final letter(s) of the default form of the adjective, which is the masculine singular. Most French adjectives add E for feminine and S for plural. This rule applies to adjectives that end in most consonants as well as all vowels except the unaccented E. It also includes all regular and most irregular present participles and past participles: Adjective: "green" vert Masculine singular vert Feminine singular verte Masculine plural verts Feminine plural vertes Adjective: "blue" bleu Masculine singular bleu Feminine singular bleue Masculine plural bleus Feminine plural bleues Adjective: "funny" amusant Masculine singular amusant Feminine singular amusante Masculine plural amusants Feminine plural amusantes Adjective: "spicy" épicé Masculine singular épicé Feminine singular épicée Masculine plural épicés Feminine plural épicées When the masculine singular adjective ends in an unaccented E, there is no difference between the masculine and feminine forms: Adjective: "red" rouge Masculine singular rouge Feminine singular rouge Masculine plural rouges Feminine plural rouges When the default form of the adjective ends in S or X, there is no difference between the masculine singular and plural forms: Adjective: "grey" gris Masculine singular gris Feminine singular grise Masculine plural gris Feminine plural grises While most French adjectives fit into one of the above categories, there are still quite a few that have irregular feminine and/or plural forms. Note: These rules are the same for making nouns feminine and plural. Agreement of Irregular French Adjectives Most French adjectives are regular, but there are a number of irregular adjectives, based on the final letter(s) of the masculine singular adjective. Adjectives that end in a vowel plus L or N usually become feminine by doubling the consonant before adding E. Ending: el > elle Adjective: "personal" personnel Masculine singular personnel Feminine singular personnelle Masculine plural personnels Feminine plural personnelles Ending: on > onne Adjective: "good" bon Masculine singular bon Feminine singular bonne Masculine plural bons Feminine plural bonnes Adjectives that end in er or et need a grave accent: Ending: er > ère Adjective: "expensive" cher Masculine singular cher Feminine singular chère Masculine plural chers Feminine plural chères Ending: et > ète Adjective: "full" complet Masculine singular complet Feminine singular complète Masculine plural complets Feminine plural complètes Other final letters lead to very irregular feminine endings: Ending: c > che Adjective: "white" blanc Masculine singular blanc Feminine singular blanche Masculine plural blancs Feminine plural blanches Ending: eur > euse Adjective: "flattering" flatteur Masculine singular flatteur Feminine singular flatteuse Masculine plural flatteurs Feminine plural flatteuses Ending: eux > euse Adjective: "happy" heureux Masculine singular heureux Feminine singular heureuse Masculine plural heureux Feminine plural heureuses Ending: f > ve Adjective: "new" neuf Masculine singular neuf Feminine singular neuve Masculine plural neufs Feminine plural neuves Irregular plurals: The ending al changes to aux in the plural: Adjective: "ideal" idéal Masculine singular idéal Feminine singular idéale Masculine plural idéaux Feminine plural idéales Note: Most of the above rules are the same for making nouns feminine and plural. Irregular French adjectives There are several French adjectives which have irregular feminine and plural forms, as well as a special form when they are placed in front of a masculine noun that begins with a vowel or a mute H: "a handsome man" un bel homme "an old friend" un vieil ami Adjective Singular masc vowel/H Singular fem Plural masc Plural fem "beautiful" beau bel belle beaux belles "new" nouveau nouvel nouvelle nouveaux nouvelles "crazy" fou fol folle fous folles "soft" mou mol molle mous molles "old" vieux vieil vieille vieux vieilles Position of French Adjectives In English, adjectives virtually always precede the nouns they modify: a blue car, a big house. In French, adjectives may be placed before or after the noun, depending on their type and meaning. This concept can be aggravating for French learners, but with patience and practice you'll be able to describe any object like a natural. The following explanations should cover about 95% of adjectives, but, alas, there are always some exceptions. Placement After the Noun Most descriptive adjectives are placed after the noun they modify. These normally have an analytical meaning, in that they classify the noun into a certain category. These types of adjectives include shape, color, taste, nationality, religion, social class, and other adjectives that describe things like personality and mood. "round table" une table ronde "black book" un livre noir "sweet tea" du thé sucré "American woman" une femme américaine "Catholic church" une église catholique "middle-class family" une famille bourgeoise In addition, present participles and past participles used as adjectives are always placed after the noun. "interesting story" une histoire intéressante "lively debate" un débat passionné Placement Before the Noun Certain adjectives are placed before the noun, some which you can memorize with the acronym "BAGS": B Beauty A Age G Good and bad S Size (except for grande with people, see below) These descriptors—and a few others—are considered inherent qualities of the noun: "pretty girl" une jolie fille "young man" un jeune homme "new house" une nouvelle maison "good child" un bon enfant "small problem" un petit problème "sincere condolences" les sincères condoléances "vague promises" les vagues promesses "kind boy" un gentil garçon In addition, all non-descriptive (i.e. demonstrative, indefinite, interrogative, negative, and possessive) adjectives are placed before the noun: "these books" ces livres "each person" chaque personne "which pen?" quel stylo ? "no woman" aucune femme "my child" mon enfant Placement Depends on Meaning Some adjectives have both a figurative and an analytic (literal) sense and can thus be placed on either side of the noun. When the adjective is figurative, it goes before the noun, and when it's analytic, it goes after the noun. Figurative: "my green (fruitful) years" mes vertes années Literal: "green vegetables" des légumes verts Figurative: "a great man" un grand homme Literal: "a tall man" un homme grand Figurative: "a sad (mean or bad) person" un triste individu Literal: "a sad (crying) person" un individu triste Figurative: "my old (former) school" mon ancienne école Literal: "my old (aged) school" mon école ancienne Figurative: "a certain (type of) look" un certain regard Literal: "a certain (assured) victory" une victoire certaine Masculine and Feminine French Nouns ~ Noms French Determiners: Adjectifs déterminants How and When to Use French Possessive Pronouns French Indefinite Adjectives (Adjectifs Indéfinis) Le Participe Présent Learn to Use the French Word 'Tout' and Its Variations French Demonstrative Adjectives: Adjectifs Démonstratifs French Adjectives with Special Forms How the French Describe Clothing Shape, Texture and More French Past Participle: Participe Passé French Vocabulary: Physical Descriptions of People How to Form French Possessive Adjectives What Are French Ordinal Numbers and Fractions? 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