Virtual Kollage: Descriptive adjectives in French

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Descriptive adjectives in French

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Descriptive Adjectives
Descriptive adjectives are used to describe nouns. In French, descriptive adjectives usually follow the nouns they modify. Descriptive adjectives may also follow forms of the verb être (to be): il/elle est... (he/she/it is . . . ); ils/ elles sont... (they are . . . )


un professeur intéressant          an interesting teacher
un ami sincère                          a sincere friend
Il est pratique.                                 He/It is practical.
Elle est sportive.                             She is athletic.

Agreement of Adjectives in Gender and Number
In French, adjectives agree in both gender and number with the nouns they modify. The feminine form of adjectives usually ends in -e. The regular plural adds an s.

Singular                                  Plural
Masculine      un ami intelligent                 des amis intelligents
Feminine        une amie intelligente                 des amies intelligentes

If the masculine singular form of the adjective ends in an unaccented or silent -e, the ending remains the same in the feminine singular.

C’est un homme extraordinaire. He’s an extraordinary man.
C’est une femme extraordinaire. She’s an extraordinary woman.
Paul est optimiste. Paul is optimistic.
Mais Claire est pessimiste. But Claire is pessimistic.

If the singular form of an adjective ends in -s or -x, the plural ending
remains the same.
Bradley est anglais.                       Bradley is English;

les amis de Bradley                         Bradley’s friends are also English.
sont aussi anglais.
M. Blin est généreux;                     Mr. Blin is generous;
ses (his) enfants sont aussi généreux.
his children are also generous.

If a plural subject or group contains one or more masculine items or people, the plural adjective is masculine.

Suzanne et Georges                         Suzanne and Georges are
sont intelligents.                                                       intelligent.

Suzanne et Amélie sont                         Suzanne and Amélie are
intelligentes.                                                             intelligent.


Invariable adjectives or adjectival phrases do not change in gender or number.

Ce sont des chaussures chic et bon marché.
These are stylish and inexpensive shoes.

Some descriptive adjectives have irregular forms.
Singular
MASCULINE        FEMININE            ENGLISH
conservateur          conservatrice         conservative
courageux             courageuse           courageous
fier                        fière                      proud
gentil                     gentille                  nice
naturel                   naturelle                natural
parisien                 parisienne             Parisian
sportif                    sportive                 athletic
travailleur              travailleuse           hardworking
Plural
MASCULINE        FEMININE            ENGLISH
conservateurs        conservatrices       conservative
courageux             courageuses         courageous
fiers                      fières                              proud
gentils                   gentilles                nice
naturels                 naturelles              natural
parisiens               parisiennes           Parisian(someone from Paris)
sportifs                  sportives               athletic
travailleurs            travailleuses                    hardworking

Other descriptive adjectives with irregular forms include the following examples:
canadien (canadienne) Canadian
cher (chère) expensive; dear
conspirateur (conspiratrice) conspiratorial
ennuyeux (ennuyeuse) boring
naïf (naïve) naïve
paresseux (paresseuse) lazy
sérieux (sérieuse) serious


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