Adjective-Noun Agreement in French


Here are some common adjectives to describe people in French:

Feminine
Masculine
Translation
Petite
Petit
Small
Mariée
Marié
Married
Timide
Timide
Shy
Nerveuse
Nerveux
Nervous
Bonne
Bon
Good
Veuve
Veuf
Widowed
Étrangère
Étranger
Stranger
Belle
Beau
Beautiful

You may have noticed changes at the end of some of these adjectives. This means that the adjective can change to match the noun it is modifying. In French, all adjectives must agree with the nouns that they modify in terms of gender and number.

Gender means masculine or feminine. If you are describing people, this (usually) matches up to the gender of the person you are describing, so it is easy to know if you should use the masculine or feminine forms. For other nouns, you need to memorize the gender of the word just like you need to learn the meaning and the spelling. This is something that is difficult in French.

Number means singular (one item or person) or plural (more than one). English grammar makes the same distinction for nouns. In French, you have to change adjectives by adding a –s at the end to make them plural, as well, except those that are already ended with a –s or a –x at the singular form; in this case the end doesn't change.

In general, you can make feminine adjectives agree with the nouns they modify by adding a –e at the masculine adjective but there is any exceptions depending on the ending of the adjective:

Adjective endingMasculineFeminineTranslation
Adjectives ending
with –e ➜ No change
ÉgoïsteÉgoïsteEgoist
-eux ➜ -euseChanceuxChanceuseLucky
-en ➜ -enne
-on ➜ -onne
Autrichien
Bon
Autrichienne
Bonne
Austrian
Good
-er ➜ -èrePremierPremièreFirst
-f ➜ -veNeufNeuveNew
Other casesGros
Gentil
Nouveau
Long
Blanc
Vieux
Grosse
Gentille
Nouvelle
Longue
Blanche
Vieille
Fat
Kind
New
Long
White
Old

Examples:
Robert est beau. [Robert is handsome.]
Marie est belle. [Marie is handsome.]
Marc est roux. [Marc is red-headed.]
Hélène est rousse.[ Hélène is red-headed.]
Pierre et Hélène sont sympatiques. [Pierre and Hélène are nice.]
Ces garçons sont bons. [These boys are good.]
Les maisons sont blanches. [The houses are white.]

Be careful with the pronunciation ! When the masculine adjective is ended with a consonant, you don't have to pronounce it but the feminine form of the adjective you do.

Examples:
Grand ➜ Grande (Tall)
Petit ➜ Petite (Small)
Related Links:
French
Demonstrative Adjectives in French
How to Conjugate Verbs in French: Present Tense


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