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Using One Adjective to Compare Two Nouns of Different Genders


lisalu
Member
Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 16
Topic starter  

I'm not sure how to explain this, exactly, but here's what I'm trying to figure out.  When you are using an adjective in a sentence and it refers to two different nouns, how do you make the agreement?  For example:

Il n'existe pas de langue plus belle que le français.

Il n'y a pas d'animale plus mignon qu'une souris.

Are these sentences correct?  Would they be correct if you used "beau" and "mignonne" instead?

I'm just trying to wrap my mind around this - thanks for any clarification!


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lkl
 lkl
Member Admin
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 248
 

Bonjour Lisa - yes, your sentences are correct: you agree with the first noun, because that is what the adjectives are modifying.

Il n'existe pas de langue plus belle que le français. --> Le français est la plus belle langue.

Il n'y a pas d'animal (no "e") plus mignon qu'une souris. --> La souris est l'animal le plus mignon.


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lisalu
Member
Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 16
Topic starter  

@lkl  Thank you!  Of course when you reworded the sentences, then it makes sense.  I've studied French for years but like most anglophones the gender angle remains baffling. For example, looking at a newborn baby girl and exclaiming Quel beau bébé just seems awkward.


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midoan
Member
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 176
 

Bonjour Lisa,

Bébé est un mot masculin qui s'applique aussi bien aux baby girls qu'aux baby boys !

Au contraire, enfant peut être masculin ou féminin :

- Caroline est si mignonne, c'est une jolie petite enfant ;
- à 17 ans, Paul n'est pas très sérieux, c'est un grand enfant.

Michel


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midoan
Member
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 176
 

Pour compliquer un peu les choses, je viens de m'apercevoir que le mot enfant au masculin peut qualifier aussi bien des personnes de sexe masculin que des personnes de sexe féminin :

- Âge physique, être humain, sans différenciation de sexe : "Dans ses jeunes années, Valérie était un enfant blond".

- Être humain du point de vue de sa filiation (filiation naturelle, fils ou fille) : "Bien qu'elle refuse de le dire, Sandrine est un enfant naturel".

Voir le CNRTL, enfant.

Michel


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lisalu
Member
Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 16
Topic starter  

@midoan Yes like "une personne" or "une victime" refers to a person of either sex, which is also weird to anglos.  So, say you were trying to point out a person in a crowd and even if was a man, you'd indicate, "Cette personne là."  I understand it, but it isn't intuitive to English speakers. 


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