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Lesson 4 - Adjectives and Plural

1. Adjectives

In the second lesson we saw that in French nouns have a gender : they can be either masculine or feminine. Some of them can be both and the feminine form is derived from the masculine by appending a " e ". We also learned how the plural affects the nouns, i.e. by appending a " s ", in most of the times. To sum up, we can say that the gender and the number (singular or plural) affect the nouns termination, by appending either a " e " or a " s " (or sometimes something more complex).

There is an other kind of words in French which change in accordance to the gender and the number : the adjectives. Adjectives change according to the gender and the number of the noun which they qualify. The rules which we drew up for the nouns are applicable to the adjectives :

Adjectives Concordance Rules

Note : In most cases, the adjectives follow the noun or the group of nouns they refer. However, this remark is not rigid and you can actually put an adjective before the noun it qualifies but be careful, by doing this, you may change the meaning ! (idiomatic form).

Examples :

Some adjectives are placed before the noun they qualify rather than after.

Examples :

Note that, in these examples, both forms are grammatically correct but French speaking people prefer the first one.

Examples of adjective concordance rules

Original sentence : Il conduit un camion bleu (He drives a blue truck).

Let's apply the fourth rules we mentioned above :

2. Some adjectives

masculine singular : grand
feminine singular : grande
masculine plural: grands
feminine plural: grandes
masculine singular : petit
feminine singular : petite
masculine plural: petits
feminine plural: petites
masculine singular : beau
feminine singular : belle
masculine plural: beaux
feminine plural: belles
masculine singular : laid
feminine singular : laide
masculine plural: laids
feminine plural: laides
masculine singular : bon
feminine singular : bonne
masculine plural: bons
feminine plural: bonnes
masculine singular : mauvais
feminine singular : mauvaise
masculine plural: mauvais
feminine plural: mauvaises
masculine singular : haut
feminine singular : haute
masculine plural: hauts
feminine plural: hautes
masculine singular : bas
feminine singular : basse
masculine plural: bas
feminine plural: basses
masculine singular : lourd
feminine singular : lourde
masculine plural: lourds
feminine plural: lourdes
masculine singular : léger
feminine singular : légère
masculine plural: légers
feminine plural: légères
masculine singular : propre
feminine singular : propre
masculine plural: propres
feminine plural: propres
masculine singular : sale
feminine singular : sale
masculine plural: sales
feminine plural: sales
masculine singular : long
feminine singular : longue
masculine plural: longs
feminine plural: longues
masculine singular : court
feminine singular : courte
masculine plural: courts
feminine plural: courtes

From this list, you can derive the following additional concordance rules which apply most of the time :

  1. when the masculine singular form of the adjectif ends with a e, the feminine form is identical to the masculine one (e.g. sale / sale)
  2. when the masculine singular form of the adjectif ends with a n, the feminine form is derived by appending a e and by doubling the ending n (e.g. bon / bonne)
  3. when the masculine singular form of the adjectif ends with a er, the feminine form end by ère (e.g. léger / légère)
  4. when the masculine singular form of the adjectif ends with a eau or au, the plural form is composed by appending a x and the feminine form is built by replacing eau or au by elle (e.g. beau / belle / beaux)

3. Our first sentences

Very simple sentences can be built using a subject, an adjective and the verb être (to be) such as :

Note that the concordance rules apply to the adjective according to the gender and the number of the subject. I advise you to buid such sentences using the few words you have already learnt. It's a good exercise which make you practice the feminine and plurial forms of the adjectives as well as the present tense conjugation of the verb être. Have a good time.

4. More Numbers

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