Adjectives in French

On this and the following pages, we look at how to use adjectives in French. Adjectives are a type of word generally used to "describe" something. In English, adjectives are generally words that can have -er and -est added to them (e.g. cool > cooler, coolest; busy > busier, busiest), and/or which can have an equivalent phrase with more or most (intelligent > more intelligent). A few adjectives in English are generally replaced with special irregular forms instead of adding -er/-est. For example, we'd say better, not gooder.

In English, we usually put the adjective before the noun (the word representing the "thing we're describing") when we put them together in a phrase. For example:

a tall man
a powerful computer
a patient teacher
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Just occasionally in English, the adjective— or a phrase around that adjective— appears to come after the noun. For example:

a man tall, yet not too slim
a computer more powerful than I imagined
a teacher patient enough to take on this class
a father with children is a father proud
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In these cases, we would often insert "who is", "that is" etc in English, for example:

a teacher who is patient enough to take on this class
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In French, adjectives share some similarities with English adjectives. But they also have some important differences:

  • in French, adjectives often have different masculine and feminine forms, depending on the noun they relate to;
  • like nouns, French adjectives also sometimes have different singular and plural forms, though this is often just a spelling issue;
  • in French, it is far more common to put the adjective after the noun, and there are certain types adjective where speakers would virtually never put it before;
  • French doesn't have suffixes for making comparative and superlative forms (like the -er and -est endings in English).

Next: the form of adjectives

On the next page, we start look at adjectives in French with an overview of how to form adjectives in French. After learning about the general forms of adjectives, you'll be able to:

You will also want to see the section on the position of French adjectives: as hinted, adjectives can come before or after the noun in French, depending on the circumstances.

 French grammar index
 French-English dictionary
 English-French dictionary

This page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2017. All rights reserved.