French Adjective Placement

Understanding where to place adjectives in French sentences can be challenging for learners. In this article, we will look into the rules and patterns governing the placement of adjectives in French.


Position of Adjectives

French adjectives can be placed either before or after the nouns they modify. The position depends on the type of adjective and sometimes on the specific adjective itself.


Adjectives That Precede the Noun

Some adjectives in French typically come before the noun. These adjectives are often related to:

  • Beauty
  • Age
  • Goodness
  • Size

Examples of adjectives that usually precede the noun include:

  • beau (beautiful)
  • jeune (young)
  • bon (good)
  • grand (big)


Adjectives That Follow the Noun

Most French adjectives follow the noun they modify. This includes adjectives that describe:

  • Color
  • Shape
  • Nationality
  • Other specific qualities

Examples of adjectives that typically follow the noun include:

  • bleu (blue)
  • rond (round)
  • français (French)
  • intéressant (interesting)


Special Cases

There are some adjectives that can be placed either before or after the noun, but their meaning changes depending on their position. For example:

  • ancien (former/ancient): “un ancien professeur” (a former teacher) vs. “un professeur ancien” (an ancient teacher)
  • propre (own/clean): “ma propre chambre” (my own room) vs. “une chambre propre” (a clean room)


Multiple Adjectives

When a noun is modified by multiple adjectives, the placement can vary. Generally, the adjective that would normally precede the noun comes first, followed by the noun, and then the adjective that follows the noun. For example:

  • “une grande maison blanche” (a big white house)


Adjective Agreement

Regardless of their position, French adjectives must agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. This means that the ending of the adjective changes to match the noun. For example:

  • “un homme intelligent” (a smart man)
  • “une femme intelligente” (a smart woman)
  • “des hommes intelligents” (smart men)
  • “des femmes intelligentes” (smart women)


Common Exceptions

There are some common exceptions to these rules that learners should be aware of. These include:

  • “tout” (all), which precedes the noun: “toute la journée” (all day)
  • “autre” (other), which also precedes the noun: “un autre exemple” (another example)
  • Numbers, which generally precede the noun: “trois livres” (three books)

Understanding these rules and exceptions is crucial for mastering French adjective placement. By practicing and familiarizing yourself with these patterns, you can improve your fluency and accuracy in French grammar.


French Adjective Placement Exercises

Here are some exercises to help you practice the placement of adjectives in French sentences.

Exercise 1: Place the Adjective

Place the adjective in the correct position (before or after the noun). Translate the sentences to English as well.

  1. Un (belle) maison.
  2. Une voiture (rouge).
  3. Un (jeune) homme.
  4. Une fille (intelligent).
  5. Un (ancien) bâtiment.
  6. Une journée (long).
  7. Un chat (noir).
  8. Une (petite) fenêtre.
  9. Un (grand) arbre.
  10. Un livre (intéressant).

Exercise 2: Adjective Agreement

Rewrite the sentences with the correct adjective agreement based on the gender and number of the noun.

  1. Un homme (intelligent).
  2. Une femme (heureux).
  3. Des enfants (curieux).
  4. Une fille (joli).
  5. Des voitures (rapide).
  6. Un chat (gris).
  7. Une maison (blanc).
  8. Des fleurs (beau).
  9. Un chien (mignon).
  10. Une table (rond).

Exercise 3: Multiple Adjectives

Rewrite the sentences placing multiple adjectives in the correct order and making necessary agreements.

  1. Un homme (grand) (vieux).
  2. Une voiture (nouveau) (bleu).
  3. Des maisons (petit) (blanc).
  4. Un livre (intéressant) (ancien).
  5. Une fille (joli) (jeune).
  6. Des arbres (grand) (vert).
  7. Un chat (petit) (noir).
  8. Des amis (nouveau) (sympathique).
  9. Un bâtiment (ancien) (énorme).
  10. Une table (rond) (grand).

Exercise 4: Meaning Change

Identify how the meaning of the sentence changes based on the position of the adjective.

  1. Un ancien professeur vs. Un professeur ancien
  2. Une propre chambre vs. Une chambre propre
  3. Un grand homme vs. Un homme grand
  4. Une pauvre femme vs. Une femme pauvre
  5. Un cher ami vs. Un ami cher



Here are the answers to the exercises:

Exercise 1

  1. Une belle maison. (A beautiful house)
  2. Une voiture rouge. (A red car)
  3. Un jeune homme. (A young man)
  4. Une fille intelligente. (An intelligent girl)
  5. Un ancien bâtiment. (An ancient building)
  6. Une journée longue. (A long day)
  7. Un chat noir. (A black cat)
  8. Une petite fenêtre. (A small window)
  9. Un grand arbre. (A big tree)
  10. Un livre intéressant. (An interesting book)

Exercise 2

  1. Un homme intelligent. (An intelligent man)
  2. Une femme heureuse. (A happy woman)
  3. Des enfants curieux. (Curious children)
  4. Une jolie fille. (A pretty girl)
  5. Des voitures rapides. (Fast cars)
  6. Un chat gris. (A gray cat)
  7. Une maison blanche. (A white house)
  8. Des belles fleurs. (Beautiful flowers)
  9. Un chien mignon. (A cute dog)
  10. Une table ronde. (A round table)

Exercise 3

  1. Un grand vieil homme. (A big old man)
  2. Une nouvelle voiture bleue. (A new blue car)
  3. Des petites maisons blanches. (Small white houses)
  4. Un ancien livre intéressant. (An old interesting book)
  5. Une jolie jeune fille. (A pretty young girl)
  6. Des grands arbres verts. (Big green trees)
  7. Un petit chat noir. (A small black cat)
  8. Des nouveaux amis sympathiques. (New nice friends)
  9. Un énorme ancien bâtiment. (An enormous old building)
  10. Une grande table ronde. (A big round table)

Exercise 4

  1. Un ancien professeur (A former teacher) vs. Un professeur ancien (An ancient teacher)
  2. Une propre chambre (My own room) vs. Une chambre propre (A clean room)
  3. Un grand homme (A great man) vs. Un homme grand (A tall man)
  4. Une pauvre femme (A pitiful woman) vs. Une femme pauvre (A poor woman)
  5. Un cher ami (A dear friend) vs. Un ami cher (An expensive friend)