French For Football/Grammar/Adjectives

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Regular formation[edit]

Just like articles, French adjectives also have to match the nouns that they modify in gender and plurality.

Spelling[edit]

Most adjective changes occur in the following manner:

  • Feminine: add an -e to the masculine form
    • un gardien impressionnant --> une gardienne impressionnante (an impressive male / female keeper)
    • un changement surprenant --> une victoire surprenante (a surprising substitution / victory)
    • un match mouvementé --> une saison mouvementée (an eventful match / season)
  • Plural: add an -s to the singular form
    • un moment fort --> des moments forts (a highlight / some highlights)
    • une équipe forte --> des équipes fortes (a strong team / some strong teams)

Pronunciation[edit]

Generally, the final consonant is pronounced only when it comes before an -e. Most adjectives, such as those above, are affected by this rule.

  • Masculine Pronuciation: impressionnan, surprenan, for
  • Feminine Pronunciation: impressionnant, surprenant, fort

With plural adjectives, the -s ending is not pronounced, so the adjective will sound exactly the same as the singular form.

Exceptions and Irregularities[edit]

  • Adjectives that end in e in the masculine form do not change with gender.
  • When an adjective, such as gros, ends in -s, it does not change in the masculine plural form.
  • Sometimes the final consonant is doubled in the feminine form.

Irregular formation[edit]

Irregular plural formation[edit]

Examples
M Sing. M. Pl. Masc. Singular Masc. Plural Notes
No change -s -s un joueur français
un gros match
des joueurs français
des gros matchs
-x -x un tir chanceux
un joueur talentueux
des tirs chanceux
des joueurs talentueux
Add x -eau -eaux un nouveau maillot des nouveaux maillots
-al -aux un match amical des matchs amicaux Exceptions: fatal (fatals), final (finals) & naval (navals)

Irregular feminine formation[edit]

Examples
Masc. Fem. Masculine Feminine Notes
No change -e -e adverse, contestable, difficile, imbattable, opportuniste, spectaculaire, tactique When the masc. form ends in an -e, there is no change.
The final consonant is pronounced on the masc. form.
Final
Consonant
Doubled
-el -elle individuel individuelle When an adjective has one of these endings, the ending of the feminine form is doubled.
There is no change of pronunciation when changing from -el to -elle.
-il is pronounced "ee" (as in keen), while -ille is similar, with a final yod (pronounced like "ee" in keen with a "y" on the end: [ij] ).
-on is pronounced ohhn and -onne is pronounced uhhne.
-en is pronounced euhn and -enne is pronounced ehne.
-os is pronounced oh and -osse is pronounced ohse.
-as is pronounced ah and -asse is pronounced ahse.
-il -ille gentil gentille
-on -onne bon bonne
-en -enne ancien
aérien
ancienne
aérienne
-os -osse gros grosse
-as -asse bas basse
-c
change
-c -che blanc
franc
blanche
franche
-eur
change
-eur -euse accrocheur
prometteur
accrocheuse
prometteuse
-eux
change
-eux -euse astucieux
chanceux
astucieuse
chanceuse
-eux is pronounced euhh and -euse is pronounced euhsse.
-g
change
-g -gue long
longue
-if
change
-if -ive décisif défensif décisive
défensive
er
change
-er -ère premier
dernier
première
dernière
-er is pronounced ay and -ère is pronounced air, though exceptions such as "fier" exist in which both forms are pronounced with an ending similar to the word "air".
-et
change
-et -ète inquiet
complet
inquiète
complète
-et is pronounced ay and -ète is pronounced ette.
-ou
change
-ou / -ol -olle fou, fol
mou, mol
folle
molle
-ol forms occur before a vowel or mute h.

Special rules[edit]

Word Order[edit]

Most adjectives come after the noun they modify in French.

  • un joueur expérimenté - an experienced player
  • des joueurs expérimentés - (some) experienced players

However, some common French adjectives, including beau, nouveau, and vieux come before the noun.

  • un joli but - a lovely goal

Des is replaced with de when an adjective comes before the noun.

  • de jolis buts - (some) lovely goals

Note that in informal speech, des is very often used in place of de.

Adjectives that precede nouns[edit]

List[edit]

Adjectives that are used frequently before nouns. These are:

  • affreux (affreuse)
  • autre
  • beau (belle)
  • bon(ne) +
  • court(e) +
  • dernier (dernière) +
  • gentil (gentille)
  • grand(e) +
  • gros(se) +
  • haut(e)
  • jeune +
  • joli(e)
  • large
  • long(ue)
  • mauvais(e)
  • méchant(e) +
  • meilleur(e)
  • nouveau (nouvelle)
  • pauvre
  • petit(e)
  • vieux (vieille)
  • vilain(e)

+ sometimes placed after a noun, and may change in meaning

When these adjectives appear before an indefinite plural noun, they will change the article associated with it:

  • des garçons courageux / de beaux garçons

Changes in meaning[edit]

When grand goes before a noun, it means great. However, when it goes after the noun, it means tall. Likewise, when pauvre goes before a noun, it means unfortunate. When it comes after the noun, it means financially poor. This rule works most of the time, but be careful, "pauvre" can mean "financially poor" even when used before the nouns.

Beau, nouveau, and vieux[edit]

These three adjectives behave differently when placed before a singular masculine noun starting with a vowel or silent h:

Masc. Sing. Cons. Masc. Sing Vowel Masc. Plural Fem. Sing. (all) Fem. Plural
Beau un beau mouvement un bel arret de beaux arrets une belle occasion de belles occasions
Nouveau un nouveau joueur un nouvel investisseur de nouveaux investisseurs une nouvelle recrue de nouvelles recrues
Vieux un vieux briscard un vieil ami de vieux amis une vieille idée de vieilles idées

(Translations: mouvement=interplay, arret=save, occasion=chance, joueur=player, investisseur=investor, recrue=recruit, briscard=veteran, ami=friend, idée=idea)

Possessive adjectives[edit]

In English, we say "her car" when the owner of the car is a woman and "his car" when the owner is a man. In French, they say "sa voiture" even if the owner is a male. It is not the owner who determines the gender of the possessive adjective but the object owned.

First person singular - mon, ma, mes
Second person singular (informal) - ton, ta, tes
Third person singular - son, sa, ses

First person plural - notre, notre, nos
Second person plural (and polite form) - votre, votre, vos
Third person plural - leur, leur, leurs

Note: Exception. When a feminine noun starts with a vowel or silent 'h', you should use "Mon" instead of "Ma". Example:

Mon ami = ok 
Ma amie = error! 
Mon amie = ok.

Usage[edit]

Possessive adjective are used to express possession of an object.

  • C'est mon billet. - It's my ticket.

In English the possessive adjective agrees with the subject (his sister, her brother). But in French, possessive adjectives act like all other adjectives: they must agree with the noun they modify.

Grammar
Possesive Adjective Usage · Utilisation des adjectifs possessifs
Masculine Noun
le billet
Feminine Noun
la chaussure
le billet de Marc
Marc's ticket
son billet
his ticket
la chaussure de Marc
Marc's boot (or shoe)
sa chaussure
his boot (or shoe)
les billets de Marc
Marc's tickets
ses billets
his tickets
les chaussures de Marc
Marc's boots
ses chaussures
his boots
le billet de Marie
Marie's ticket
son billet
her ticket
la chaussure de Marie
Marie's boot
sa chaussure
her boot
les billets de Marie
Marie's tickets
ses billets
her tickets
les chaussures de Marie
Marie's boots
ses chaussures
her boots

Whether the third person singular possessive adjectives son, sa and ses should be translated as his or her is indicated by context.

  • Elle a son billet. - She has her ticket.

Liaison and adjective changes[edit]

Liaison occurs when mon, ton, and son are followed by a vowel.

  • Il est monnami. - He is my friend.
  • Il est tonnami. - He is your friend.
  • Il est sonnami. - He is his/her friend.

Liaison also occurs with all plural forms, since they all end in s.

  • Ils sont meszamis. - They are my friends.
  • Ils sont noszamis. - They are our friends.

Mon, ton, and son are used before a feminine singular noun that starts with a vowel or silent h. Elision (to m', t', or s') does not occur.

  • Elle est monnamie. - She is my friend.

Demonstrative adjectives[edit]

There are four adjectives (meaning this or these) that demonstrate a specific object:

  • Ce match (masculin)
  • Cet après-midi (masculin before vowel or silent h)
  • Cette semaine (feminine)
  • Ces joueurs (plural)

(après-midi=afternoon, semaine=week)

Comparative[edit]

Grammar
The Comparative · Le Comparatif
Adjectives
Sub. + Verb Comparative Adjective Comparative Object
Je suis plus expérimenté que toi.
I am more experienced than you
Je suis moins expérimenté que toi.
I am less experienced than you
Je suis aussi expérimenté que toi.
I am as experienced as you.

Superlative[edit]

le/la/les + plus/moins + un adjectif

le/la/les + meilleur(e)(s)/mieux/pire

Acknowledgements[edit]

This page is based on original text from French/Grammar/Adjectives dated 22nd January 2010.