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

Un masque vert
A green mask


une fille vraiment gentille
a really nice girl


un sonnet shakespearien
a Shakespearian sonnet


le câble électrique
the electric cable


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


la maison bleue 
the blue house


une rumeur complètement fausse
a completely false rumor


un chapeau texan
a Texan hat


un chapeau pointu
a pointy hat


le brouillard londonien
the London fog


un cauchemar orwellien
an Orwellian nightmare


la balle rouge
The red ball


un insecte amphibien
an amphibian insect


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


une situation kafkaïenne
a Kafkaesque situation


un très joli manteau
a very pretty coat


un pays musulman
a Muslim country


la boîte ronde
the round box


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


Le disque jaune.
The amber light.


un paysage incroyablement beau
an incredibly beautiful landscape


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


Q&A Forum 16 questions, 30 answers

AudreyA2Kwiziq community member

un extrêmement vieux parchemin

From what i gather "Un vieux parchemin" would be correct. Why is "Un extrêmement vieux parchemin" incorrect? Thank you.

Asked 3 months ago
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Audrey,

This is a special case where adjectives modified by multi-sylable adverbs always follow the noun even if, normally, the adjective goes before the the noun: In your case:

Un très vieux parchemin BUT Un parchemin extrêmement vieux.

Hope this helps,

Tom

un extrêmement vieux parchemin

From what i gather "Un vieux parchemin" would be correct. Why is "Un extrêmement vieux parchemin" incorrect? Thank you.

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LizC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

What about BANGS adjectives? Un vraiment beau monument would be correct using BANGS, no?

Asked 4 months ago

What about BANGS adjectives? Un vraiment beau monument would be correct using BANGS, no?

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MteteA0Kwiziq community member

Bonjour

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour!

Bonjour

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KarlB2Kwiziq community member

Ok, I’ll try again... Un bon pour les cheveux shampooing.

To me this reads as “a voucher for hair shampoo” and I don’t see how the syntax is incorrect... unless “Bon” is supposed to be an adjective and not a noun.

I’m very confused!?

Asked 8 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I guess you have to parse it differently: it is actually un bon shampooing pour les cheveux.

KarlB2Kwiziq community member

Ahh, I see...thanks

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi karl, 

I cannot find the context but if it was a voucher (un bon) it would be :

Un bon pour un shampooing...

Hope this helps!

 

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I think the point that is being taught here is that adjectives, even short adjectives like bon, are placed after the noun if they have a complement, i.e. "bon pour les cheveux". So it should be:

un shampooing bon pour les cheveux

HeyesC1Kwiziq community member

I think it is a very odd question about adjective position since there isn’t actually an adjective as it stands and to make sense of the sentence you have to move a noun, and understand that bon is supposed to be an adjective.

CécileKwiziq team member

Just to add -

'Un bon shampooing pour les cheveux' , indicates that the shampoo is a good quality one 

You would say - 

'Un shampooing bon pour les cheveux secs / gras/ abimés' 

for a specific shampoo good for dry, greasy or damaged hair.

Hope this helps!

Ok, I’ll try again... Un bon pour les cheveux shampooing.

To me this reads as “a voucher for hair shampoo” and I don’t see how the syntax is incorrect... unless “Bon” is supposed to be an adjective and not a noun.

I’m very confused!?

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ÅbA2Kwiziq community member

Le disque jaune - The amber light?

I don't understand how the example "Le disque jaune" can mean "The amber light". Jaune=yellow, so I accept it can also mean amber. But how can disque mean light, doesn't it normally mean disc? This can however be a thing i haven't learned in English, as neither English nor French is my native language.

Asked 9 months ago
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Hi Åb,

I believe this terminology has its origins in French railway signaling. Originally the French system had a system of solid coloured disks, red, yellow etc. I guess when the signalisation evolved to use a system of couloured lights the "disque jaune" actually became a yellow light but the terminology was not updated to reflect this, so "yellow light"  = "disque jaune".

This has nothing to do the traffic light system wher the yellow (amber) light is referred to as "feu jaune (orange)"

I am no expert on railway signaling but I trust this expanation is accurate.

Tom

Le disque jaune - The amber light?

I don't understand how the example "Le disque jaune" can mean "The amber light". Jaune=yellow, so I accept it can also mean amber. But how can disque mean light, doesn't it normally mean disc? This can however be a thing i haven't learned in English, as neither English nor French is my native language.

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WendyB1Kwiziq community member

Comment Allan’s votre journee

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
I don't understand your question.

Comment Allan’s votre journee

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TilenA1Kwiziq community member

If you use an adjective that's not on the BEFORE list with a short adverb, does it stay BEHIND the noun or not? "Une très gentille fille."

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Tilen,

You can say both,

Une très gentille fille  and    Une fille très gentille.

Un bien meilleur élève  or   Un élève bien meilleur

Une maison très confortable   or    Une très confortable maison ...

Hope this helps!

If you use an adjective that's not on the BEFORE list with a short adverb, does it stay BEHIND the noun or not? "Une très gentille fille."

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SundasA1Kwiziq community member

Bonsoir

I have done the test several times still have mistakes in adjectives. 

One of the sentence does not make sense for me or let us say could not understand what does it mean,

un orge grand comme une maison,

if I consider grand irregular adjective and commes before maison but the answer was wrong ! Can you help me understand why it is wrong and what does this sentence mean in English.

merci beaucoup

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Sundas,

Un ogre grand comme une maison. -- An ogre big as a house.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Sundas asked:View original

Bonsoir

I have done the test several times still have mistakes in adjectives. 

One of the sentence does not make sense for me or let us say could not understand what does it mean,

un orge grand comme une maison,

if I consider grand irregular adjective and commes before maison but the answer was wrong ! Can you help me understand why it is wrong and what does this sentence mean in English.

merci beaucoup

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MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Is there an order of adjective placement.

For instance the dark salty aromatic romanian truffles made in the Lyonnaise style.
Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member

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!

MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks Gruff , I thought it might be more complicated than in English. Your answer helps clarify it for me.

Is there an order of adjective placement.

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

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JimmyA0Kwiziq community member

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?
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Jimmy, Yes, the usual grammar rule is that the adjective follows the noun it modifies. And yes there are exceptions to this: Short and common adjectives that go BEFORE nouns (adjective position) Other adjectives that go BEFORE nouns 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.
JimmyA0Kwiziq community member
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.
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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).
VioletA2Kwiziq community member
it's "n'est-ce pas"
DianeA1Kwiziq community member
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. 
JimmyA0Kwiziq community member

Merci

JimmyA0Kwiziq community member
Merci
JimmyA0Kwiziq community member
You outa see me spell englase.

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?

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PatrickA0Kwiziq community member

Would this be correct, as well?

Asked 2 years ago
PatrickA0Kwiziq community member
Je trembler en peur.

Would this be correct, as well?

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PatrickA0Kwiziq community member

Does this mean that these examples are correct:

Un lingot rouge. Un très rouge lingot. Un lingot incroyablement très rouge.
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Patrick, Bon entraînement. Vos exemples me paraissent exactes. Bonne chance.

Does this mean that these examples are correct:

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

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WilliamC1Kwiziq community member

Please explain why this is not correct.

un gros comme un camion éléphant
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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.

Please explain why this is not correct.

un gros comme un camion éléphant

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ChrisB2Kwiziq community member

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
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !

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

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ZsuzsannaA1Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 2 years ago
ZsuzsannaA1Kwiziq community member
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!
MatthewC1Kwiziq community member

I'm bumping this one up as I don't understand this part of the rule either - hopefully someone will be able to explain.

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

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MerveA1Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !
MerveA1Kwiziq community member
Merci beaucoup!

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

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