The suitable choice of answers in this exercise for translating "new people" was either de nouvelles personnes, or des gens nouveaux. Can nouveau/nouvelle therefore go both before and after the noun? And in every case? I have learnt that gens is an extraordinary "hermaphroditic" word where I believe that adjectives that precede it are generally feminine and adjectives that succeed it are masculine (les bonnes gens, les gens courageux), but I thought that nouveau/nouvelle was an adjective that standardly goes before the noun, so I thought that in this case de nouvelles gens would be the option instead of des gens nouveaux? Thanks.
Freeform Writing Exercise B1
Gens indeed is a fascinating word as it behaves differently from most words in French which have a masculine or feminine status. Others that spring to mind are 'amour' and 'délice' which are feminine in the plural, and masculine in the singular. Most odd!
Anyway, 'revenons à nos moutons'
or 'gens' ...
'Gens' synonym of 'personnes' is always plural and masculine but the rules of agreements of adjectives are complicated whether they precede or follow it and I will try and simplify them -
1. When 'gens' is followed by adjectives which normally have a gender it will be masculine -
Les gens patients, les gens étrangers, les gens cultivés, etc...
2. If 'gens' is preceded by an adjective or word which can be either masculine or feminine, you will choose the feminine form of this word-
Certaines gens sont malheureux de nature = Certain people are miserable by nature
Les bonnes gens sont toujours récompensés = Good people are always recompensed
( But in this case, you would probably avoid the use of 'gens' and use 'personnes' as it sounds very precious which is also the reason why you would avoid saying, 'de nouvelles gens' in the above challenge)
Things get even more strange when the word that precedes 'gens' is epicene, meaning it doesn't change spelling whether it is masculine and feminine like 'honnête', 'propre' but I think I will leave it at this for the time being.
Hope this helps!
Neuf/neuve usually goes after the noun, whereas nouveau/nouvelle comes before it. About the other idiosyncracies you mention, the input of Cécile would be greatly appreciated.
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