3.2 Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. The major differences between adjectives in French and English are agreement and placement. In English, an adjective usually comes before the noun it modifies and it does not change. In French, an adjective is usually placed after the noun it modifies and must agree in gender and number with the noun.


Use the table below to review the vocabulary words that are examples of common adjectives. Listen to the French pronunciations using the following audio recording.

French English
ennuyeux / ennuyeuse boring
heureux / heureuse happy
intelligent / intelligente intelligent
intéressant / intéressante interesting
nerveux / nerveuse nervous
paresseux / paresseuse lazy
sérieux / sérieuse serious
sportif / sportive athletic
timide shy, timid
travailleur / travailleuse hard-working
bon / bonne good
grand / grande tall, big
gros / grosse big, fat
jeune young
mauvais / mauvaise bad
petit / petite little


In French, adjectives agree in both number (singular or plural) and gender (masculine or feminine) with the noun or pronoun they modify. For regular adjectives, the masculine form is the base form to which endings are added.

General Rules

Generally, the feminine adjective is formed by adding an e and the plural adjective is formed by adding s:

Gender Singular Plural
Masculine intelligent intelligents
Feminine intelligente intelligentes

If the masculine singular ends in e: do not change feminine, add an s for plural:

Gender Singular Plural
Masculine timide timides
Feminine timide timides

If the masculine singular adjective ends in an s, add an e for feminine and s for feminine plural, but do not add an s for masculine plural:

Gender Singular Plural
Masculine français français
Feminine française françaises

Two other common changes occur with adjectives ending in f and x. If the masculine singular adjective ends in f, then it changes to ve in the feminine:

Gender Singular Plural
Masculine actif actifs
Feminine active actives

If the masculine singular adjective ends in x, then it changes to se in the feminine (but remains x in the masculine plural):

Gender Singular Plural
Masculine heureux heureux
Feminine heureuse heureuses


In French, most adjectives come after the noun, unlike in English where the adjective precedes the noun:

Example: Un garçon intelligent / An intelligent boy

However, some adjectives are placed before the noun:

Example: Un petit garçon / A small boy

The following are adjectives commonly placed before the noun:

French english
Un beau livre. A beautiful book.
Un bon professeur. A good professor.
Un grand ordinateur. A big computer.
Un gros dictionnaire. A fat dictionary.
Une jeune fille. A young girl.
Un mauvais étudiant. A bad student
Un nouveau sac à dos. A new backpack.
Un petit garçon. A small boy.

Exercice 1 : Gender and Number in Adjectives

Follow the General Rules on adjective formation outlined above.  For each term below, provide the correct form for the four different types of form: masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural and feminine plural.

Example: intelligent, intelligente, intelligents, intelligentes
  1. grand (big)
  2. rouge (red)
  3. sportif (athletic)
  4. strict (strict)
  5. amusant (funny)
  6. nerveux (nervous)
  7. content (happy)
  8. calme (calm)

Exercice 2 : Adjective Agreement

Each of the following pairs or groups of friends have a lot in common. Use the adjective given  to complete the accompanying sentence; make sure the adjective agrees in gender and number with the people it describes.

Example: Georges est grand. Marie est grande.

Fill in the Blanks

  1. Paul est américain. Suzanne est [blank 1 – feminine].
  2. Jean est français. Clair est [blank 2 – feminine].
  3. Marc est [blank 3- masculine]. Marthe est petite.
  4. L’étudiant est [ blank 4 – masculine]. L’étudiante est contente.
  5. Le premier ministre est intelligent. Sa femme est [blank 5 – feminine].
  6. Philippe est [blank 6 – masculine]. Caroline est paresseuse.
  7. Pierre et Michel sont sérieux. Marie et Lise sont [blank 7 – feminine]
  8. Colin et Julien sont [blank 7 – masculine]. Sylvie et Nathalie sont timides.
  9. Ils sont [blank 8 – masculine]. Elles sont actives.

Exercise 3 : People

Name people who fit each of the descriptions. Don’t forget to look up any words you don’t recognize.

  1. un acteur amusant
  2. une actrice sérieuse
  3. un homme paresseux
  4. un chanteur intelligent
  5. une femme ennuyeuse
  6. un film intéressant
  7. un grand pays
  8. une voiture sportive
  9. un bon acteur
  10. une mauvaise actrice
  11. un acteur canadien
  12. une jeune chanteuse
  13. une belle femme
  14. un beau film
  15. un petit pays
  16. une grosse voiture

This section includes content derived from Francais Interactif, originally released under CC-BY, Liberté, originally released under CC BY-NC-SA, and Tex’s French Grammar, originally released under CC BY 3.0.


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