Certain = specific / sure (adjectives that change meaning according to position)

Note that certain adjectives change their meanings depending if they appear before or after the noun.

Look at these uses of certain/certaine:

Un certain homme
a particular man

C'est une opportunité certaine.
It's a sure opportunity.

Une femme d'un certain âge.
A woman of a certain age.

Certains projets sont faciles.
Certain projects are easy.

Before the noun, certain/certaine means some or particular: it retains a vagueness here.

After the noun, the meaning of certain is similar to the English one of being sure, certain, unquestionable

Note: generally adjectives appear after the noun, but some very common adjectives go before.

 See also: 

Ancien = former / old (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Cher= dear / expensive (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Propre = own / clean (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Dernier = final / previous (adjectives that change meaning according to position)

Vrai = real / true (adjectives that change meaning according to position)  

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Certains projets sont faciles.
Certain projects are easy.


Un homme certain.
A sure man.


C'est une opportunité certaine.
It's a sure opportunity.



Une femme d'un certain âge.
A woman of a certain age.


Un certain homme
a particular man


Q&A

Lanny

Kwiziq community member

2 April 2018

1 reply

certain -vs- (un) peu de

So I overlooked answering with "certain" for the question : Il y a un ___.  (There is some risk.)  As risk is uncountable I went with : Il y a un peu de risque.  (There is a bit of risk.)  In English I can think of instances where those differ (your example of full stress on "some" being one of them.) but they seem mostly interchangable.  Any hints on when to use "certain" and when to use "(un) peu de" in French?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

16 April 2018

16/04/18

Hi Lanny,


'Certain' is a indeterminate quantity and 'un peu' is a small amount so I don't feel they are interchangeable.


Hope this helps!


 


 


 

Catherine

Kwiziq community member

22 March 2017

1 reply

Why is it "Certain" rather than "Some"?

I'm a little confused. In the lesson above it said "Before the noun, certain/certaine means 'some' or 'particular': it retains a vagueness here. After the noun, the meaning of certain is similar to the English one of being 'sure, certain, unquestionable'." Yet in the example "Certain projets sont faciles" means "Certain projects are easy." Why is it "Certain" and not "Some"? Many thanks Catherine

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

22 March 2017

22/03/17

Hi Catherine - because in this context "certain" has the same meaning as "some", so either word is appropriate. It's not about which word to use, but which *meaning* we are conveying: certainty versus a vague quantity/specificity. Does that make sense?

Ann

Kwiziq community member

10 January 2017

1 reply

Why does "There is some risk" translate to "Il y a un certain risque"

instead of "Il y a un risque" ? It seems like saying there is some risk implies more that the risk is certain/sure/definite more than what the particular risk is.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

16 January 2017

16/01/17

Bonjour Ann !

"Il y a un risque" would simply mean "There is a risk", whereas "Il y a un certain risk" brings a vagueness to the statement: "There is *some* risk".
Here the difficulty lies in that in English you would vocally emphasise the *some* to insist on it. In French, you use "certain" :)

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

11 November 2016

4 replies

Stuart asked: "Could we not also say "une valeur sûre" as well as "une valeur certaine"? "

Sa collection de tableaux a une ___ . (His painting collection has sure value.)

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

11 November 2016

11/11/16

Bonjour Stuart !

That's an interesting case!
Indeed, "une valeur sûre" could seem to be a possible synonym here for "une valeur certaine", however they don't actually mean the same thing in French.

​Look at this sentence:
"Fais-moi confiance, c'est une valeur sûre !" (Trust me, it's a safe bet / a sure thing / a valued asset!)
​Note that you use it with "être", and would never say "avoir une valeur sûre".

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Phillip

Kwiziq community member

31 December 2017

31/12/17

Hi Aurélie,
That's a tricky point; I think most anglophones would use the two (certain , sure) interchangeably. You might consider integrating it in a quiz or placing a note in one of the lessons.
Keep up the good work !

David

Kwiziq community member

22 July 2018

22/07/18

Here are examples of French speakers using "une valeur sûre" with avoir:


https://www.public.fr/Public-TV/Scoop-Public-TV/Exclu-Video-Stephane-Bern-Eurovision-2015-On-a-une-valeur-sure-avec-Lisa-Angell-730072



http://www.alterinfo.net/L-arnaque-de-la-recuperation-des-bijoux-en-or-par-des-operateurs-financiers-prives_a55634.html


(Comment #29)



https://vancouver.consulfrance.org/Notariat-et-legalisations-de-signature-Procedure



Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 August 2018

10/08/18

Bonjour David !


I looked at the examples you provided and:


On a une valeur sûre avec Lisa Angeli.  
-> Here it's the same case I mentioned, where it means she is a reliable talent for these people. This sentence means that "they have a reliable winner in her."


As for the other examples, I must admit that they seem valid, though I've never used this expression like this myself.


I will therefore amend the question to accept both answers :)


Merci et bonne journée !


 

Clever stuff underway!