Forming the feminine of adjectives ending in -u

Look at these adjectives:

Il pousse un cri aigu à cause d'une douleur aigüe.
He gives a sharp scream because of a sharp pain.

Cet homme ambigu a eu une fin ambigüe.
This ambiguous man had an ambiguous end.

C'est un espace contigu dans une maison contigüe.
This is a contiguous space in a contiguous house.

Note that adjectives ending in -u (and NOT derived from verbs) become -üe in the written form, but are pronounced in exactly the same way as the masculine form. 

(The diaresis, ü, indicates here that the u is pronounced as a separate vowel, otherwise, for example, aigue would be pronounced rather like 'egg' in English.) 

Note that before the 1990s, the alternative -uë was the accepted spelling, and is still deemed acceptable now.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

C'est un espace contigu dans une maison contigüe.
This is a contiguous space in a contiguous house.


Cet homme ambigu a eu une fin ambigüe.
This ambiguous man had an ambiguous end.


Il pousse un cri aigu à cause d'une douleur aigüe.
He gives a sharp scream because of a sharp pain.


Q&A

Marnie

Kwiziq community member

31 August 2018

1 reply

Aigü and aigüe

The example uses masculine and feminine endings but in your "instruction" there is no mention feminine v s masculine...only the NOT derived from verbs... become -üe in the written form, but are pronounced in exactly the same way as the masculine form."  Could you clarify this?   

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

3 September 2018

3/09/18

Hi Marnie,

Sorry but I don't understand your query, could explain the problem further?

William

Kwiziq community member

21 February 2017

1 reply

Is there a difference between aiguë and aigüe?

In Larousse I can only find aiguë for the English "Shrill" or "Acute"

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 March 2017

10/03/17

Bonjour William ! The difference between the two is simply a change of spelling rule. As the lesson states, "Note that before the 1990's, the alternative " -uë " was the accepted spelling, and is still deemed acceptable now." Therefore, both "aigüe" and "aiguë" are correct, and they're pronounced the same :) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Almut

Kwiziq community member

1 September 2016

2 replies

Other adjectives?

You write "Note that THESE adjectives ending in -u become -üe". So does this only concern exactly these three adjectives or are there others? Is it a general rule for adjectives on -u or are these exeptions?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

15 September 2016

15/09/16

Bonjour Almut ! Thank you for this very useful question! Indeed, the lesson should actually say "adjectives ending in -u (and NOT derived from verbs)" - I've now updated it - meaning that there can be others (none pop to my head right now), but for example "déçu" (disappointed) WON'T follow that rule, coming from the verb "décevoir" (-> déçue). I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

D

Kwiziq community member

10 February 2017

10/02/17

I think what's relevant here is that the u comes after a g. The letter u is often placed after g to indicate that it's a "hard" g (like in "vague") rather than a "soft" g (like in "âge"). In that case the u is silent. Here the diaresis is needed to tell us that it's not a silent u.
Thinking...