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Adjectives usually go AFTER nouns (adjective position)

Adjectives, or 'describing words', are usually placed in French AFTER the noun they qualify, unlike in English:
   

un sac rouge    vs    a red bag

Here is a list of categories of adjectives that follow that rule:

1. Colours

Un masque vert
A green mask

la maison bleue 
the blue house

la balle rouge
The red ball

 

2. Classification adjectives that put objects in a distinctive category (shape, component...)

la boîte ronde
the round box

un insecte amphibien
an amphibian insect

un animal sauvage contre un animal apprivoisé
a wild animal against a domesticated animal

le câble électrique
the electric cable

 

3. Adjectives derived from a proper noun (Person, Country, City, Religion...) 

un sonnet shakespearien
a Shakespearian sonnet

une chanteuse russe
a Russian singer

un pays musulman
a Muslim country

le brouillard londonien
the London fog

un chapeau texan
a Texan hat

Note that these adjectives are not capitalised in French.

 

4. Adjectives followed by a complement (à, de, pour, comme...)

un exercice facile à faire
an easy-to-do exercise

une fille jolie comme un cœur
a pretty girl (lit. a girl pretty like a heart)

une barrière haute de deux mètres
a 2-metre-high fence

une casserole bonne pour la poubelle
a saucepan fit for the bin

 

5. Adjectives modified by adverbs with 2 or more syllables

une rumeur complètement fausse
a completely false rumor

une fille vraiment gentille
a really nice girl

un paysage incroyablement beau
an incredibly beautiful landscape

-> Compare these examples with the following counter-example containing a one-syllable adverb:

un très joli manteau
a very pretty coat

 

As always, there are exceptions to this rule, some adjectives are placed BEFORE the noun:

Short and common adjectives that go BEFORE nouns (adjective position)

Other adjectives that go BEFORE nouns

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Le disque jaune.
The amber light.


une chanteuse russe
a Russian singer


un animal sauvage contre un animal apprivoisé
a wild animal against a domesticated animal


une barrière haute de deux mètres
a 2-metre-high fence


une rumeur complètement fausse
a completely false rumor


Un masque vert
A green mask


un sonnet shakespearien
a Shakespearian sonnet


un cauchemar orwellien
an Orwellian nightmare


le câble électrique
the electric cable


un exercice facile à faire
an easy-to-do exercise


une casserole bonne pour la poubelle
a saucepan fit for the bin


la maison bleue 
the blue house


un chapeau texan
a Texan hat


un très joli manteau
a very pretty coat


un chapeau pointu
a pointy hat


une fille jolie comme un cœur
a pretty girl (lit. a girl pretty like a heart)


le brouillard londonien
the London fog


la balle rouge
The red ball


un insecte amphibien
an amphibian insect


un paysage incroyablement beau
an incredibly beautiful landscape


une situation kafkaïenne
a Kafkaesque situation


un pays musulman
a Muslim country


la boîte ronde
the round box


une fille vraiment gentille
a really nice girl


Q&A

Michael

Kwiziq community member

2 February 2018

2 replies

Is there an order of adjective placement.

For instance the dark salty aromatic romanian truffles made in the Lyonnaise style.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

14 April 2018

14/04/18

Hi Michael


Yes, there's an order but it's rather more complicated in French than English since some adjectives only go before or after a noun, some can be either but change meaning with position etc. Also, you can't generally just keep tacking them together like in English and after two they tend to be introduced with 'et' or some other connecting word, or the idea is expressed with something more idiomatic.


A broad rule of thumb is to place the adjectives that 'most modify' the noun closest to it, so as they become more nuanced they come later but French is just idiomatically quite different in the treatment of sequences of modifiers and I suspect it would take years of living in France or reading a great deal in French to embed it.


I saw great example on a stackexchange thread:


One of the most popular traditional Japanese recipes.


The original poster suggested une des plus populaires recettes de plats traditionnels japonais but a native French speaker corrected them with the more idiomatic:


(L')une des recettes de plats traditionnels japonais les plus populaires.



Hope that helps!

Michael

Kwiziq community member

14 April 2018

14/04/18

Thanks Gruff , I thought it might be more complicated than in English. Your answer helps clarify it for me.

Jimmy

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2017

8 replies

I understand that the adjective goes after the noun, ne est pa?

I also learned there are some exceptions to the rule. Do I need to just memorize the exceptions or is there a way to decipher this grammar?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2017

4/09/17

Bonjour Jimmy,
Yes, the usual grammar rule is that the adjective follows the noun it modifies. And yes there are exceptions to this:
https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/my-languages/french/view/3002
https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/my-languages/french/view/2989
The most important thing that I have learned about French grammar is this:
Learn the grammar rules, like we did in English, but always know that there will be, in all likelihood, an exception or exceptions.
If you practice online or in workbooks enough with this topic, you won't need to memorize the exceptions, you will simply learn them by using them on the exercises.
J'espère que cela vous aidera.
Bonne chance.

Jimmy

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2017

4/09/17

Mercy, I seem to be getting this wrong on the tests often. I've been fooling with this for a long time so I hope it sticks somehow.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

6 November 2017

6/11/17

Just an aside..... it is "n'est-ce pas" and not "ne est pas" if you want to say "isn't it".

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Violet

Kwiziq community member

5 December 2017

5/12/17

it's "n'est-ce pas"

Diane

Kwiziq community member

20 May 2018

20/05/18

Thank you for mentioning this, Jimm, in terms of the grammar rule, and I have seen the "exception to the rule" using a practice application that I use sometimes. In fact, the lesson that I just completed on this site is a perfect example of contradiction, where the profession examples given place the adjective immediately BEFORE the noun that identifies the profession. 

Jimmy

Kwiziq community member

22 May 2018

22/05/18

Merci



Jimmy

Kwiziq community member

22 May 2018

22/05/18

Merci

Jimmy

Kwiziq community member

22 May 2018

22/05/18

You outa see me spell englase.

Patrick

Kwiziq community member

23 July 2017

1 reply

Would this be correct, as well?

Patrick

Kwiziq community member

23 July 2017

23/07/17

Je trembler en peur.

Patrick

Kwiziq community member

23 July 2017

1 reply

Does this mean that these examples are correct:

Un lingot rouge. Un très rouge lingot. Un lingot incroyablement très rouge.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

23 July 2017

23/07/17

Bonjour Patrick,
Bon entraînement. Vos exemples me paraissent exactes.
Bonne chance.

William

Kwiziq community member

25 April 2017

1 reply

Please explain why this is not correct.

un gros comme un camion éléphant

Ron

Kwiziq community member

27 April 2017

27/04/17

Bonjour William,
The word gros is the adjective, not a noun and either the elephant is being compared to a truck or the truck compared to the elephant, the exact context of comparison is unknown. Both nouns, the elephant and the truck are masculine. So the proper phrase would be:
- un éléphant gros comme un camion or
- un camion gros comme un éléphant

The lesson part is #4:
4. Adjectives followed by a complement (à, de, pour, comme...)

un exercice facile à faire
an easy-to-do exercise

une fille jolie comme un cœur
a pretty girl (lit. a girl pretty like a heart)

une barrière haute de deux mètres
a 2-metre-high fence

une casserole bonne pour la poubelle
a saucepan fit for the bin

J'espère que ceci au-dessus vous aide.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

20 January 2017

1 reply

Not fully explained

The question was about "Un vraiment beau monument" which I obviously got wrong. I think I understand that beau should have been at the end, but it is not clear where vraiment shoul go. Please explain

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

27 January 2017

27/01/17

Bonjour Chris !

This is case 5 in the lesson: "Adjectives modified by adverbs with 2 or more syllables".
Here "beau" was nuanced by the adverb "vraiment" (really beautiful), so they go together, and because "vraiment" is a 2-syllable adverb, therefore the group adv+adj is placed after the noun.

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Zsuzsanna

Kwiziq community member

8 November 2016

1 reply

I did a test that the following sentence was right: une histoire très intéressante. I don^'

Zsuzsanna

Kwiziq community member

8 November 2016

8/11/16

I did a test where the following sentence was right: une histoire très intéressante. I don't understand why. Why not: une très intéressante histoire, because the 'trés' is an exception. Thank you for your reply!

Merve

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2016

2 replies

Why do we use un tres joli manteau but not un manteau tres joli? Merci!

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

4 November 2016

4/11/16

Bonjour Merve !

The lesson states that in cases where the adjective is used with an adverb, there are two possibilities:
- If the adverb contains two syllables or more (i.e. "vraiment gentille"), then the adverb/adjective will be AFTER the noun -> "une fille vraiment gentille"
- If the adverb contains one syllable (i.e. "très joli"), then the adverb/adjective will be BEFORE the noun -> "un très joli manteau"

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Merve

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2016

4/11/16

Merci beaucoup!
Thinking...