French Adjectives

Basic Adjectives – These adjectives have to do with describing people. They are the most common in French and you’ll hear them every day.

grand/grande big petit/petite small/little jeune young
vieux/vielle old beau/belle beautiful gentil/gentille nice
sympatique nice/agreable sympa nice agréable nice/agreable

The next set of adjectives are words that are used to describe the state or condition of an object. They are also useful in describing temperature and weather conditions.

froid/froide cold chaud/chaude hot sec/seche dry
mouillé wet haut/haute high bas low
propre clean salle dirty plein full
vide empty lourd heavy léger light

This final set of adjectives deals with words describing non-phyical qualities as well as human emotions. The final words on this list have to do with positive human attributes.

bon/bonne good mauvais/mauvaise bad facile easy
difficile hard/difficult important important sérieux/grave serieux
loin far proche near riche rich
pauvre poor heureux/heureuse happy triste sad
content/contente happy fatigué(e) tired en bonne forme in good shape/not tired
optimiste optimistic pessimiste pessimistic accueillant welcoming
attentionné(e) caring affectueux, affectueuse loving inspirant(e) inspiring
utile helpful gracieux, gracieuse graceful généreux, généreuse generous

An adjectives is a word describes something. For example, in “green car”, blue is the adjective because it describes the color of the car. In “big car”, the world “big” would be the adjective. French adjectives can be a bit tricky for students just starting out in learning French. This is because in most situations in French the adjective comes after the noun. So, for example rather than saying the “green car” you’d say the “car blue”, or “la voiture verte” in French. Also, another thing that makes learning French adjectives a bit tricky is that they must agree with the noun that they’re describing in gender (masculine vs. feminine) and number (singular vs. plural). So, to say, “green cars” you’d say “les voitures vertes”. In this situation the word for green (vert) is written with an -es to describe feminine plural.

French Adjective Rules

Now let’s learn the rules of French adjectives. Most simple or regular adjectives take an “s” or the plural, “e” for the feminine form and “es” for the feminine plural form. Let’s use “vert” for green as our example. Here are the four forms:

Masculine: vert – Example Phrase: Je bois du thé vert/I drink green tea.
Feminine: verte – Example Phrase: J’aime la voiture verte./I like the green car.
Masculine-Plural: verts – Example Phrase: Je vois les livres verts./I see the green books.
Feminine-Plural: vertes – Example Phrase: Je vois les feuilles vertes./I see the green leaves.

If the masculine-singular form of an adjective ends in an “E” there is no difference between the masculine and feminine forms. In this situation, a prime example is orange, as in the color orange. Here are the four forms:

Masculine: orange – Example Phrase: J’aime l’homme orange./I like the orange man.
Feminine: orange – Example Phrase: La fille orange est belle!/The orange girl is beautiful!
Masculine-Plural: oranges – Example Phrase: Les livres oranges ne sont pas interéssants./The orange books are not interesting.
Feminine-Plural: orangesLes voitures oranges roullent très rapidement./The orange cars are going very fast.

If an adjective ends in “s” or “x” then there is no difference between the masculine singular and plural. A prime example is the word “doux”, which means soft. Here are some examples:

Masculine: doux – Example Phrase: Le chiot doux./The soft puppy
Feminine: douce – Example Phrase: J’adore la chanson douce./I love the soft song.
Masculine-Plural: doux = Example Phrase:  Les chiots doux/The soft puppies
Feminine-Plural: douces – Example Phrase: Les voix douces./The soft voices

There are certain situations where adjectives become irregular. This means that specific spelling changes take place for the various forms based on the last letters of adjective. For example, words ending in “N” or “L” must double the N or L and add an “E” feminine form. Our example with be “bon”, which means good. This is ad adjective that goes BEFORE and not after the noun (more on that later).

Masculine: bon – Example Phrase: Le bon garçon/The good boy
Feminine: bonne – Example Phrase: La bonne fille/The good girl
Masculine-Pluralbons – Example Phrase: Les bons garçons/The good boys
Feminine-Pluralbonnes – Example Phrase: Les bonnes filles/The good girls.

Another example of an irregular adjective is when the the masculine-singular ends in “EUX”. In this situation both the masculine-singular and masculine-plural forms end in “EUX” while the feminine-singular ends in “EUSE” and the feminine-plural ends in “EUSES”. A prime example is “heureux”, which means to be happy. Examples:

Masculine: heureux – Example Phrase: Le garçon heureux/The happy boy
Feminine: heureuse – Example Phrase: La fille heureuse/The happy girl
Masculine-Plural: heureux – Example Phrase: Les garçons heureux/The happy boys
Feminine-Plural: heureuses – Example Phrase: Les filles heureuses/The happy girls

Another key aspect to learning French adjectives which you must memorize is that there are certain situations where the adjective is placed BEFORE the noun. These situations usually have to do when you’re describing beauty, age, good and bad as well as size. Here are some examples:

La jolie femme – The pretty woman
La belle femme – The beautiful woman
Le beau monsieur – The beautiful man
Le jeune garçon – The young boy
La veille maison – The old house
La nouvelle voiture – The new car
Le bon garçon – The good boy
La bonne fille – The good girl
La mauvaise fille – The bad girl
Le mauvais garçon – The bad boy
Le grand problème – The big problem

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