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Five French adjectives are particularly tricky for several reasons.
- They are among the relatively few adjectives that precede nouns.
- They have very irregular feminine forms.
- They have three masculine forms.
As you can see, in addition to the usual four adjective forms required to agree with nouns in gender and number, there is a special fifth form that is used only with masculine singular nouns that begin with a vowel or mute h.
Par exemple …
|un beau pays||un bel endroit|
|un fou rire||un fol héroïsme|
|un mou refus||un mol effort|
|un nouveau mois||un nouvel an|
|un vieux monsieur||un vieil homme|
- The special masculine form is required for euphony.
- It’s pronounced just like the feminine adjective.
- There is no special form for plural nouns.
|plusieurs beaux endroits|
|trois vieux hommes|
Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on agreement with beau, nouveau, and vieux with this fill-in-the-blank exercise:
Expressions with bel
Bel is also found in two fixed expressions:
- bel et bien – well and truly, really, undoubtedly
- tout cela est bel et bon (mais…) – that’s all well and good (but …)