D'abord, ils ont pris des feuilles de papier rouge, orange et jaune,

PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

D'abord, ils ont pris des feuilles de papier rouge, orange et jaune,

D'abord, ils ont pris des feuilles de papier rouge, orange et jaune,

I'm struggling to see why rouge and jaune are singular. 

I know it is correct, for example : des feuilles de papier blanc = white sheets of paper.

Can anyone explain with a simple rule?

I think basically the point is the colours agree with the material, (papier= unaccountable, singular noun in this context), not with the "sheets".

Is there a general rule I can apply , perhaps about en/de + a material ?

I'm guessing it's something like this:

When describing what an object is made of, it is always treated as a singular noun ?

Thanks, Paul.


Asked 1 year ago
JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Paul,

I'm thinking that it is just a matter of taking "papier" (uncountable) but then specifying it with the various colours so we have papier blanc etc.  "des feuilles de (of) papier blanc  ... (of white paper)

This is how I see it  --  hope it helps.

Jim

PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I think Jim's idea of it being an uncountable noun is a good, simple answer.

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Paul. A different Paul here! I'm pretty sure I wrote "feuilles de papier rouges, orange et jaunes" with red and yellow being plural and orange singular (because you know ... French!) and that was also accepted as correct. So in this case I think they accepted that either the sheets were of coloured paper (i.e. uncountable) OR that they were coloured sheets (countable) of paper.

PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
This will Get Confusing ! This is Paul the O.P replying to Paul "the Different Paul ! "

Thanks Paul. So I gave the answer exactly as you did. i.e. Orange in the singular, with rouges and jaunes in the plural.


I spoke to a native French speaker about this , as it really vexed me.
(This is one of those longstanding technical problems that are hard to iron out.)

She was instinctively surprised that I would think of using the plural here,  
her view was that the singular was appropriate for all 3, without question.
She couldn't give me any particular grammar rule.
We seemed to agree on the idea that because paper is invariable, it should be followed by singular adjectives.
I think I'm happy with that.
 
As an amusing aside, I then had to explain to her about the fact there was no debate about the orange being singular.
That's really vexed her ! You and I can both feel pleased about that !

She got confused with orange, as you can apparently say "tons orangés" = orange tones.

Let's be clear on that. Orangé is an adjective meaning orangey, orangy.(Have a look at Word Reference)

Orange , when used an adjective as we know , it invariable.

Paul.

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

DP to OP. Interesting. Thanks for replying. As students of French I think we tend to get too obsessed with rules and correct answers, when in practice the French people make as many mistakes with their language as we do with ours, and have just as much trouble explaining it. Some of the rules (and especially the exceptions) are so complicated that I've learnt to just try to go with the flow and not expect to understand every nuance and certainly not to get everything right all the time. Have a good evening (or morning depending on where in the world you are).

D'abord, ils ont pris des feuilles de papier rouge, orange et jaune,

D'abord, ils ont pris des feuilles de papier rouge, orange et jaune,

I'm struggling to see why rouge and jaune are singular. 

I know it is correct, for example : des feuilles de papier blanc = white sheets of paper.

Can anyone explain with a simple rule?

I think basically the point is the colours agree with the material, (papier= unaccountable, singular noun in this context), not with the "sheets".

Is there a general rule I can apply , perhaps about en/de + a material ?

I'm guessing it's something like this:

When describing what an object is made of, it is always treated as a singular noun ?

Thanks, Paul.


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