Adjectives in French Part 2

In a recent post we covered the basics about adjectives in French, which change form to agree with the person or thing that they describe. In this part two post, we’ll cover some more types of adjectives. Remember that adjectives in French change according to gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural), so they can have four forms: masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural, and feminine plural. But as we’ve already seen, some adjectives only have two or three forms, and now we’ll see that some are actually invariable, meaning they don’t change form.

 

Review: Regular Adjectives

Remember that with most adjectives in French, you just add –e to the masculine singular to form the feminine singular. And then you add –s to both of those to form the plurals: –, -e, -s, -es.

big, tall singular plural
masculine grand grands
feminine grande grandes

 

Adjectives ending in -al

Adjectives like principal (main, principal), général (general), idéal (ideal), génial (great), normal (normal) end in –aux in the masculine plural. The rest is regular.

main, principal
singular plural
masculine principal principaux
feminine principale principales

 

Adjectives ending in -f

Adjectives that end in –f change the -f to –v before adding –e in the feminine. Examples are naïf (naive), actif (active), sportif (sporty, into sports), vif (lively), neuf (brand new), impulsif (impulsive). Bref (brief) belongs in this category, but note that the e changes to è before v.

active
singular plural
masculine actif actifs
feminine active actives

 

brief
singular plural
masculine bref brefs
feminine
brève
brèves

 

Adjectives ending in -er or -et

Adjectives that end in -er add an accent and end in –ère in the feminine: cher/chère (dear, expensive), dernier/dernière (last), premier/première (first), léger/légère (light), fier/fière (proud), entier/entière (whole, entire).

whole
singular plural
masculine entier entiers
feminine entière entières

 

Most adjectives that end in -et double the t and end in -ette in the feminine: net/nette (clean), cadet/cadette (younger), coquet/coquette (pretty). But a few common exceptions change the e to è to end in -ète in the feminine: inquiet (worried), complet (complete), secret (secret), discret (discreet).

complete
singular plural
masculine complet complets
feminine complète complètes

 

Adjectives ending in -teur

Many adjectives that end in -teur change to -trice in the feminine. For example: conservateur (conservative), protecteur (protective), dévastateur (devastating), libérateur (liberating).

devastating
singular plural
masculine dévastateur dévastateurs
feminine dévastatrice dévastatrices

 

But be careful. A lot of adjectives in -eur change to -euse: rêveur/rêveuse (dreamy, someone who dreams), songeur/songeuse (pensive, thoughtful), porteur/porteuse (bearing, holding, supporting).

 

Irregular Adjectives

French has a lot of irregular adjectives. We covered beau, nouveau, and vieux in our first post, and here they are again with a few more common irregular adjectives in French. Notice that even with irregulars, there are often patterns. For example, beau, nouveau, vieux, and jumeau all have double –ll– in the feminine, and –x in the masculine plural.

beautiful singular plural
masculine beau beaux
feminine belle belles

 

new singular plural
masculine nouveau nouveaux
feminine nouvelle nouvelles

 

old singular plural
masculine vieux vieux
feminine vieille vieilles

 

twin
singular plural
masculine jumeau jumeaux
feminine
jumelle
jumelles

 

Doux and faux both have –x in the masculine, and an /s/ sound in the feminine, spelled either -ss or –c.

sweet, gentle
singular plural
masculine doux doux
feminine douce douces

 

false, fake
singular plural
masculine faux faux
feminine
fausse
fausses

 

A few common adjectives take –che in the feminine.

white singular plural
masculine blanc blancs
feminine blanche blanches

 

fresh singular plural
masculine frais frais
feminine
fraîche
fraîches

 

dry
singular plural
masculine sec secs
feminine
sèche
sèches
frank, honest
singular plural
masculine franc francs
feminine
franche
franches

 

And then there’s favori, which adds -t.

favorite
singular plural
masculine favori favoris
feminine
favorite
favorites

 

Invariable Adjectives

A few adjectives are invariable, meaning they don’t change form at all. These tend to fit into two categories. The first are colors derived from things like fruits or metals or animals: marron (chestnut brown), orange (orange), cerise (cherry red), turquoise (turquoise), marine (marine blue), puce (puce, purple-brown) etc. The second are adjectives borrowed from other languages: cool (cool, relaxed), gratis (free), kascher (kosher), jazzy (jazzy), sexy (sexy), etc.

 

Test Yourself
  1. C’est une maison [blanc].
  2. Ma chemise n’est pas [sec].
  3. Hervé et Sylvain sont [jumeau].
  4. Cette musique est très [vif].
  5. Raconte-moi l’histoire [entier].
  6. Mon frère est très [fier] de sa fille.
  7. C’est une fille [doux].
  8. C’était une tempête [dévastateur].
  9. Ma sœur [cadet] s’appelle Christine.
  10. Ce sont des [cher] amies.
  11. Isabelle, sois [franc] avec moi.
  12. Les vins [principal] de la region sont assez [cher].

 

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Answers
  1. C’est une maison blanche. (It’s a white house.)
  2. Ma chemise n’est pas sèche. (My shirt isn’t dry.)
  3. Hervé et Sylvain sont jumeaux. (Hervé and Sylvain are twins.)
  4. Cette musique est très vive. (This music is very lively.)
  5. Raconte-moi l’histoire entière. (Tell me the entire story.)
  6. Mon frère est très fier de sa fille. (My brother is very proud of his daughter.)
  7. C’est une fille douce. (She’s a sweet girl.)
  8. C’était une tempête dévastatrice. (It was a devastating storm.)
  9. Ma sœur cadette s’appelle Christine. (My younger sister’s name is Christine.)
  10. Ce sont des chères amies. (They’re dear friends.)
  11. Isabelle, sois franche avec moi. (Isabelle, be honest with me.)
  12. Les vins principaux de la region sont assez chers. (The principal wines of the region are pretty expensive.)

 

Photo by russn_fckr on Unsplash.

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