Tel Telle Tels Telles: French Adjective and Pronoun

An Extremely Versatile and Useful French Word

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The French word tel can be a qualifying adjective, an indefinite adjective, or an indefinite pronoun, and is also used in a number of expressions and conjunctions, making it an extremely versatile and useful French word.

Tel has four forms, because it has to agree in gender and number with the noun it replaces - see table below.

Tel has several different meanings depending on how it is used.

Qualifying adjective

When used as a qualifying adjective, tel expresses one of two things:

1. Similarity

   Elle a pleuré tel un enfant.

   She cried like a child.

   Tel père, tel fils.
   Like father, like son.

   Je n'ai jamais rien vu de tel.
   I've never seen anything like it.

2. Intensity

   Est-ce vraiment d'une telle importance ?
   Is it really so important?

   Il y avait un tel bruit que j'avais peur.
   There was such a [loud] noise that I was afraid.

   Une telle patience était nécessaire.
   Such [endless] patience was necessary.

Indefinite adjective​

As an indefinite adjective, tel indicates undesignated people or things. In this sense, tel is more or less equivalent to n'importe:

   Telle personne peut le faire.
   Anyone can do it.

   Tel ou tel professeur vous dira la même chose.
   Any teacher will tell you the same thing.

   Il y a tel restaurant où on peut manger à minuit.
   There's some restaurant where you can eat at midnight.

   Demandez-lui où il était à telle heure.
   Ask him where he was at such-and-such a time.

Indefinite pronoun​

Tel is nearly always singular when used as an indefinite pronoun and means one, someone, etc.

However, tel is not often used as a pronoun; other indefinite pronouns like certain or quelqu'un are more commonly used in its place:

   Tel de ces livres vaut beaucoup.
   One of these books is worth a lot.

   Tel sera d'accord, tel autre ne le sera pas.
   Someone will agree, someone else won't.

   Tel ou tel vous dira que c'est une mauvaise idée.

   Somebody or other will tell you that it's a bad idea.

Related words and expressions
À tel point queso much so that
À telle(s) enseigne(s) queso much so that
de telle façon/manièrein such a way
de telle sorte queso that
tel quelike, just as
tel quelas is
tel ou telany, such and such, somebody or other
tellement (adverb)so, so much
ne... pas tellementnot so, not as
ne... plus tellementnot anymore, no longer
(il n'y a) rien de tel quethere's nothing like
Untel, Unetelle (M./Mme Untel/Untelle)so-and-so (John/Jane Doe, Mr./Mrs. X)