French Grammar Guide for non-francophones

ADJECTIVES (e.g.: bon, grande, petit, intelligent, excellente)

Questions about adjectives

Q: Why is it une belle maison and NOT un beau maison?

In French, we try to indicate words that go together by having them "match" in some way. Grammatical gender marking is the way French indicates that an adjective goes with a noun. For example, the word maison is feminine, so we would write une belle maison since belle is the feminine form. In this example, the adjective comes before the noun, but most adjective in fact come after. Regardless, the adjective still reflects the gender category of the noun, e.g.: une histoire intéressante, un garçon intelligent.

Q: Why is it un livre intéressant and NOT un intéressant livre?

Most adjectives (e.g.: important, gentil) follow the noun in French (e.g.: C'est un film intéressant, un travail difficile, un touriste anglais). This is of course different from what occurs in English where all adjectives precede nouns (e.g.: an interesting movie).

Q: Why is it les belles maisons NOT les belle maison?

Determiners (les), adjectives (belles) and nouns (maisons) must agree in terms of number (i.e.: singular or plural). If the noun is in the plural, e.g. maisons, the adjective and determiner must reflect this by ending in -s: les belles maisons.

Q: Why is it mon livre préféré and NOT mon préféré livre?

Most adjectives (e.g.: important, gentil) follow the noun in French (e.g.: C'est un film intéressant, un travail difficile, un touriste anglais). This is of course different from what occurs in English where all adjectives precede nouns (e.g.: an interesting movie).

Q: Why is it les quatre prochains jours and NOT les prochains quatre jours?

French differs from English in terms of this structure. In English, the word "next" comes before numbers; in French, the word prochain comes after numbers.

 
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