Don’t learn French, it’s a mess – Part 5 : La place des adjectifs

An adjective in French must be written after the name. A red house is “une maison rouge”, but poets like to put before to sound poetic.

The meaning can be different if you put it before or after. Un “grand homme” is a great man, and un “homme grand” means a tall man.

Here’s a (uncomplete) list of these : ancien, brave, cher, chic, curieux, certain, drôle, grand, jeune, nul, pauvre, petit, seul, sale…

  • un drôle de chat (a strange cat), un chat drôle (a funny cat)
  • une seule dame (only one woman), une dame seule (a lonely woman)

Short adjectives are often written before the name : un vieux château (an old castle), une jeune fille (a young girl).

Well, some of them can be placed before or after : “un excellent travail”, or “un travail excellent” (good job!).

English adjectives are invariables. In French, adjectives change depending on gender and number (I’m sorry, dear).

 

  1. Un petit homme (a little man)
  2. Une petite fille (a little girl)
  3. Des petits crayons (little pencils)
  4. Des petites boîtes (little boxes)

 

Some adjectives like beau (beautiful) and nouveau (new) are really tricky.

You can say “un homme beau” (an handsome man) but more commonly “un bel homme” (I don’t know why, but I suppose it’s because it sounds better like that !).

“Il a un nouveau clavier” (he has a new keyboard) but “Il a un nouvel ordinateur” (he has a new computer) – just because it’d sound ugly with a nouveau-ordinateur (o-o).

 

 

Read books and watch movies, that’s a good way to learn all this…

Thanks for reading!

 

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“Ces belles fleurs et ces beaux poissons sont à moi !”