Adjectives in French

Adjectives in French change form to agree with the person or thing that they describe. They change according to gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural), so adjectives can have four forms: masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural, and feminine plural.

Regular Adjectives

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

 

little, short singular plural
masculine petit petits
feminine petite petites

 

interesting singular plural
masculine intéressant intéressants
feminine intéressante intéressantes

 

American singular plural
masculine américain américains
feminine américaine américaines

 

You probably know that a lot of final consonants in French are silent. So, petit ends in the sound –ee as in see. The -t isn’t pronounced at all, kind of like puh-TEE. But when you add the –e to make it feminine, that –e activates the –t, and you get puh-TEET.

And since the final –s is silent, the plurals are pronounced just like the singulars. Masculine petit and petits are both puh-TEE, and feminine petite and petites are both puh-TEET.

That doesn’t mean that you never pronounce the –s ending, though. French has liaison, which links the last consonant (otherwise silent) of one word to the next word if that next word begins in a vowel. Les petits enfants (the little kids) is lay puh-tee zah(n)-fah(n). The -s of petits is tacked onto the beginning of enfants. (The transliteration is very approximate! It’s hard to represent sounds from one language in the spelling system of another.)

Adjectives ending in -e

If an adjective already ends in –e in the masculine singular, don’t add another. So adjectives like malade (sick) and drôle (funny) just have two forms.

sick singular plural
masculine malade malades
feminine malade malades

 

funny singular plural
masculine drôle drôles
feminine drôle drôles

 

The ending –é is not the same as –e. Here, you add –e for the feminine.

tired singular plural
masculine fatigué fatigués
feminine fatiguée fatiguées

 

stressed singular plural
masculine stressé stressés
feminine stressée stressées

 

Adjectives ending in -s

If the adjective already ends in –s in the masculine singular, as is the case with a lot of nationalities, there’s no need to add another –s in the masculine plural.

French singular plural
masculine français français
feminine française françaises

 

Japanese singular plural
masculine japonais japonais
feminine japonaise japonaises

 

Doubled consonants

Some adjectives in French double the final consonant before adding –e in the feminine forms. You’ll see this pattern in adjectives that end in –el, –eil, –en, –il, –on, –ul, –et and –s in the masculine singular.

nice singular plural
masculine gentil gentils
feminine gentille gentilles

 

Canadian singular plural
masculine canadien canadiens
feminine canadienne canadiennes

 

fat, big singular plural
masculine gros gros
feminine grosse grosses

 

good singular plural
masculine bon bons
feminine bonne bonnes

 

the same singular plural
masculine pareil pareils
feminine pareille pareilles

 

ancient, former singular plural
masculine ancien anciens
feminine ancienne anciennes

 

Adjectives ending in –eux

The ending –eux changes to –euse in the feminine. Don’t add –s to -x in the masculine plural.

ancient, former singular plural
masculine heureux heureux
feminine heureuse heureuses

 

delicious singular plural
masculine délicieux délicieux
feminine délicieuse délicieuses

 

Test Yourself 1
1. Marc, es-tu _____ ? fatigué, fatiguée, fatigués, fatiguées
2. Rita, es-tu _____ ? stressé, stressée, stressés, stressées
3. Marc et Robert, êtes-vous _____ ? désolé, désolée, désolés, désolées
4. Rita et Hiroko sont _____. grand, grande, grands, grandes
5. Pauline est très _____. petit, petite, petits, petites
6. Mes amis sont _____. drôle, drôles
7. Monsieur et Madame Tricoire sont _____. français, française, françaises
8. Céline est _____. canadien, canadienne, canadiens, canadiennes

 

Irregular Adjectives

Some very common adjectives in French are irregular. You’ll recognize some of the patterns from above, for example –x as a plural ending, and –e/-es and doubled consonants in the feminine forms.

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

 

Test Yourself 2
  1. Les fromages [french] sont très [good].
  2. La tarte est [delicious].
  3. Mon téléphone n’est pas [new].
  4. Est-ce que la bière est [good] ?
  5. Martine et Sophie sont [sick].
  6. La professeur est une [old] femme.
  7. Est-ce que les vins sont [French] ou [Italian] ?
  8. Michelle est [nice] et [intelligent].
  9. Paris est [big] et [beautiful].
  10. Les étudiants sont [intelligent].
  11. La nuit est [beautiful].
  12. Ton copain est [funny].
Learn French with the Language Garage!

If you’re looking for convenient and affordable live French lessons with a real teacher, check out The Language Garage. Our lessons are given online in a virtual classroom, so it doesn’t matter where you live or work – we can come to you. And we have both private and small group lessons, with a free trial so that you can decide if there’s a fit. Check us out! And be sure to check out other blog posts that we’ve written about French for culture, vocabulary, grammar, and more.

Answers 1
1. Marc, es-tu fatigué ? Marc, are you tired?
2. Rita, es-tu stressée ? Rita, are you stressed?
3. Marc et Robert, êtes-vous désolés ? Marc and Robert, are you sorry?
4. Rita et Hiroko sont grandes. Rita and Hiroko are tall.
5. Pauline est très petite. Pauline is very short.
6. Mes amis sont drôles. My friends are funny.
7. Monsieur et Madame Tricoire sont français. Mr. and Mrs. Tricoire are French.
8. Céline est canadienne. Céline is Canadian.

 

Answers 2
1. Les fromages français sont très bons. French cheeses are very good.
2. La tarte est délicieuse. The pie is delicious.
3. Mon téléphone n’est pas nouveau. My phone is not new.
4. Est-ce que la bière est bonne ? Is the beer good?
5. Martine et Sophie sont malades. Marine and Sophie are sick.
6. La professeur est une vieille femme. The teacher is an old woman.
7. Est-ce que les vins sont français ou italiens ? Are the wines French or Italian?
8. Michelle est gentille et intelligente. Michelle is nice and intelligent.
9. Paris est grand et beau. Paris is big and beautiful.
10. Les étudiants sont intelligents. The students are intelligent.
11. La nuit est belle. The night is beautiful.
12. Ton copain est drôle. Your boyfriend is funny.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  • Advanced
  • Beginner
  • Chinese
  • Culture
  • English
  • Food
  • French
  • General
  • Grammar
  • Intermediate
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Language Garage
  • Language Geekery
  • Learning Tips
  • Our Team
  • Pronunciation
  • Reading Practice
  • Spanish
  • Spelling
  • Testimonials
  • Uncategorized
  • Verbs
  • Vocabulary
  • Wine