Adjectives

French adjectives
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Adjectifs

One of the eight parts of speech, adjectives are a type of modifier; that is, they modify or describe nouns in a certain way, letting you know the size, shape, weight, color, nationality, or any of a myriad other possible qualities of nouns.

Adjectives serve the same purpose in French and English, but they are very different in other respects.

Characteristics of French Adjectives

  1. Modify nouns
  2. Must agree in gender and number with nouns
  3. Usually follow nouns
  4. May be modified by adverbs

Gender and Number of French Adjectives

English adjectives have a single form, but French adjectives can have up to 4* forms, according to the gender and number of the nouns they modify:

masculine singular   masculine plural
feminine singular   feminine plural

If you’ve already studied the noun lesson, some of these rules will look familiar.

1) Masculine singular is the default form, to which the feminine and/or plural endings are added. For regular adjectives,** these endings are -e for feminine and -s for plural.

Par exemple…

petit (small)

le petit verre   les petits verres
la petite tasse   les petites tasses

2) When the masculine adjective ends in -s or -x, the masculine singular and plural forms are the same.

surpris (surprised)

Il est surpris.   Ils sont surpris.
Elle est surprise.   Elles sont surprises.

3) When the default form of the adjective ends in -a, -e, or -o, the masculine and feminine forms are the same.

calme (calm)

un homme calme   des hommes calmes
une femme calme   des femmes calmes

 See the links to irregular feminine and plural forms at the end of this lesson.

* There are a few adjectives that have 5 forms.

** All regular and most irregular present participles and past participles follow these rules when used as adjectives.

 Adjective Agreement Quizzes

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on French adjectives with these fill-in-the-blank exercises:

Note: You must be logged into your Progress with Lawless French account to take these tests. If you don’t have one, sign up – it’s free!

 French nouns and adjectives

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French adjectives

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