Position of Adjectives

For the most part, place adjectives directly after the nouns they modify. Keep in mind that when you hear adjectives in spoken French, they are usually meant to modify the nouns that precede them. When two adjectives modify a noun, they are joined with a conjunction, such as et.

<tgroup cols="2"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>J'ai parlé avec un homme gros et heureux</emphasis>.</p></td> <td><p>I spoke with a large and happy man.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>Pierre a un chien dangereux et méchant</emphasis>.</p></td> <td><p>Pierre has a dangerous and bad dog.</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>A few French adjectives usually appear before the noun, however. The following adjectives, when used to modify a noun, are placed directly before it; if the noun is being used with an article, the adjective is inserted between the article and the noun.</p> <p><B>Table 10-15</B></p> <table frame="none" width="100%"> <h2>Adjectives Placed Before Nouns</h2> <tgroup cols="5"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colwidth="20%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colwidth="20%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <colspec colname="col3" colnum="3" colwidth="20%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <colspec colname="col4" colnum="4" colwidth="20%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <colspec colname="col5" colnum="5" colwidth="20%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><B>Masculine Singular</B></p></td> <td><p><B>Feminine Singular</B></p></td> <td><p><B>Masculine Plural</B></p></td> <td><p><B>Feminine Plural</B></p></td> <td><p><B>English</B></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>beau</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>(bel)</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>belle</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>beaux</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>belles beautiful, fine, handsome, pretty</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>court</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>courte</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>courts</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>courtes</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>short, brief, concise</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>fou</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>(fol)</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>folle</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>fous</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>folles crazy</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>gros</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>grosse</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>gros</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>grosses</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>big, large, bulky</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>jeune</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>jeune</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>jeunes</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>jeunes</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>young, youthful, early</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>joli</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>jolie</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>jolis</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>jolies</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>pretty, fine pleasing, neat,</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>meilleur</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>meilleure</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>meilleurs</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>meilleures</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>better, preferable</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>nouveau</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>(nouvel)</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nouvelle</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nouveaux</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>nouvelles new, recent, novel</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>petit</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>petite</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>petits</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>petites</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>little, small, short, very young</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>vieux</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>(vieil)</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>vieille</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>vieux</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>vieilles old, ancient, aged</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>Note that some of these adjectives have an alternate masculine form that's used in front of singular masculine nouns that begin with a vowel.</p> <table frame="none" width="100%"> <title/> <tgroup cols="2"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>C'était un bel homme</emphasis>.</p></td> <td><p>He was a handsome man.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>Mon voisin est un vieil homme</emphasis>.</p></td> <td><p>My neighbor is an old man.</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>Also note that with the following adjectives, <emphasis>liaison</emphasis> is required if the noun following begins with a vowel: <emphasis>beaux, nouveaux, vieux</emphasis>.</p> <p>If two adjectives are used together and are used before the noun, no conjunction is used, so don't insert an <emphasis>et</emphasis>. A conjunction is used only when the adjective is in its normal position, immediately following the noun.</p> <table frame="none" width="100%"> <title/> <tgroup cols="2"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>Elle a un nouveau petit bébé</emphasis>.</p></td> <td><p>She has a new little baby.</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>Some adjectives can actually carry different connotations, depending on their position in the sentence. With some adjectives, if they appear before the noun, a figurative meaning is intended and should not be taken literally. When placed after the noun, however, the adjective is meant to be interpreted literally. Placement of an adjective after a noun often lends the statement a more serious tone. Table 10-18 contains many of these idiomatic adjectival constructions.</p> <p><B>Table 10-16</B></p> <table frame="none" width="100%"> <h2>Adjectives and Their Meanings</h2> <tgroup cols="2"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="left"/> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>ancien / ancienne</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Un ancien élève travaillera avec moi</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>A former student will be working with me.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>C'est un meuble ancien</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>It's an antique piece of furniture.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>bon / bonne</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>J'ai vu un bon film</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>I saw a good film.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Jacques est un homme bon</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>Jacques is a kind man.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>brave</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>C'est un brave homme</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>He is a decent man.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Ce fut un soldat brave</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>He was a courageous soldier.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>certain</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>J'ai une certaine idée</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>I have a vague idea.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Il a fait des progrès certains</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>He made definite progress.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>dernier / dernière</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Demain, il passera le dernier examen</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>Tomorrow, he will take the last exam.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Monsieur Allard est venu ici la semaine dernière</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>Mr. Allard came here last week.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>grand / grande</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Edith Piaf était une grande chanteuse</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>Edith Piaf was a great singer.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Ce n'est pas une femme grande</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>She is not a tall woman.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>nouveau</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Ce sont des nouveaux riches</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>They are recently wealthy.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Le chimiste a trouvé un médicament nouveau</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>The chemist found a new medicine.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>pauvre</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Je connais beaucoup de pauvres gens</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>I have known many unfortunate people.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>C'est un village très pauvre</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>It's a very poor village.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>prochain / prochaine</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>C'est le prochain arrêt</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>It's the next stop.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Je ferai mes devoirs à une occasion prochaine</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>I'll do my homework some time.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>propre</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>J'aime dormir dans mon propre lit</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>I like to sleep in my own bed.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>J'aime avoir une chambre propre</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>I like to have a clean room.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><B>adjective: <emphasis>sale</emphasis></B></p></td> <td><para/></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>before the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Il fait un sale temps</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>The weather is nasty.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>after the noun</p></td> <td><p><emphasis>Je dois laver ces vêtements sales</emphasis>.</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>I have to wash these dirty clothes.</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <div class="npsb"> <h2></h2> <p>Normally, an adjective is placed after a noun. There are some adjectives that are used before, and some that can be used in either position. These adjectives' positions are not interchangeable. When used before a noun, these adjectives have a figurative meaning, not to be interpreted literally. If the adjective appears after the noun, it should be interpreted literally.</p> </div> <!--/gc--> <div id="pagination"><ul><li class="prev"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/french/using-adjectives/plural-agreement-of-adjectives.htm" title="Plural Agreement of Adjectives">Plural Agreement of Adjectives</a></li><li class="next"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/french/using-adjectives/comparative-sentences.htm" title="Comparative Sentences">Comparative Sentences</a> </li></ul></div></div> <div id="coda"> <div id="rel"><div class="n5">Related Articles</div><ul> <li><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/french/using-adjectives/position-of-adjectives.htm" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Position of Adjectives - French </a></li> <li><a href="http://spanish.about.com/od/adjectives/a/adjectives_in_spanish.htm" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> 10 Facts About Spanish Adjectives </a></li> <li><a href="http://spanish.about.com/library/clase/bl3clase5.htm" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Spanish Adjectives - Descriptive and Limiting - Online 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