Adjective (Adjectif)


As in the other Romance languages, the adjectives in French agree in gender and number with the nouns they refer to, cf.:


Gender of the Adjectives (Genre des Adjectifs)

As the nouns, the adjectives in French  are gendered masculine or feminine.

Adjectives undergo predictable changes between masculine and feminine forms, and between singular and plural forms. These forms are numerous, as demonstrated below.
 

Adjectives of one form

Generally, if an adjective ends in -e in the masculine, the feminine forms will be identical:


Adjectives of two forms

If an adjective in the masculine ends in any other vowel, or in -ent, -ant, a mute -e is added to form the feminine:

Adjectives ending in vowel + l, n, s, or t generally double the consonant and add a mute -e: Other common changes in endings are as follows:
 
  Masculine ending Feminine ending Examples
  -c -che blanc : blanche white
  -er -ère régulier : régulière regular
  -eur -euse menteur : menteuse lying
  -eux -euse heureux : heureuse happy
  -ic -ique publiic : publique public
  -oux -ouse jaloux : jalouse jealous
  -teur -trice dévastatateur : dévastatatrice devastating
  -f -ve neuf : neuve new

Adjectives of three forms

A few adjectives have two forms for masculine - one used in front of nouns beginning with consonant, and another used in front of nouns beginning with vowel or mute h-:
 
 
Masculne in front 
of consonant
Masculne in front 
of vowel
Feminine
Meaning
 
beau
bel
belle
beautiful
 
fou
fol
folle
mad, foolish
 
mou
mol
molle
soft
 
nouveau
nouvel
nouvelle
new
 
vieux
vieil
vieille
old

Examples:
 
  • beau jour beautiful day 

  • bel homme beautiful men
    belle femme beautiful woman
  • vieux journal old newspaper 

  • vieil homme old man
    vieiille femme old woman

Invariable Adjectives

Certain colors, especially compound adjectives or adjectives formed from nouns, are invariable:


Plural of the Adjectives (Pluriel des Adjectifs)

Generally, the plural of the adjectiives follows the pattern of the plural of the nouns.

The most common way to form the plural is by adding -s to the singular:

Adjectives ending in -s, or -x in the singular generally do not change in the plural: Adjectives ending in -al generally take -aux in the plural: The adjectives ending in -eau are followed by -x in plural:


Degree of the Adjectives (Degré des Adjectifs)

Comparative degree (Degré Comparatif)

Comparative degree is formed analitically. Note that adjective agreement is with the principal noun:
 
Comparative Degree
Formation
Examples
of Superiority
plus + ADJ. + que
Jean est plus grand que Catherine.
Jean is taller than Catherine.
of Equality
aussi + ADJ. + que
Marie est aussi grande que Jean. 
Marie is as tall as Jean.
of Inferiority
moins + ADJ. + que
Philippe est moins grand que Jean. 
Philippe is less tall [shorter] than Jean.

Superlative degree (Degré Superlatif)

The superlative degree is formed analytically according to the following pattern:
 


DEF. ART. + ADJECTIVE ( + de + the context of comparison)


 


Note that sometimes the context of comparison may be implied.

Examples:

The superlative may be expressed emphatically: In the French of 16-17 centuries there occurred also synthetical forms of the superlative degree made with -issime, as sanctissime etc.
 

Irregular degrees (Degrés irréguliers)

A few adjectives have irregular synthetical comparative forms, inherited from Latin:
...
  Adjective Comparative degree Superlative degree
  bon meilleur le meilleur
  mauvais pire, plus mauvais le pire, le plus mauvais
  grand majeur, plus grand le plus grand
  petit moindre (old mineur), plus petit le moindre, le plus petit
  bas plus bas, inferieur le plus bas, infime
  haut plus haut, supéreur le plus haut, suprême
  -- extérieur extrême
...
See also Placement of the Adjectives.
 



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