Adjectives before or after the noun

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by <(:] SuPeRgIrL, Oct 1, 2005.

  1. <(:] SuPeRgIrL

    <(:] SuPeRgIrL Member

    Geordie land, Newcastle
    UK- English, Chinese

    i understand how some french adjectives come before the noun, like 'la grande maison', but how can you tell for others?? i'm a bit :confused:
    e.g. bien, bon, les couleurs, or more complex ones etc...

    thanks for help :)
  2. ILT

    ILT Senior Member

    México - Español/Castellano
    Hi supergirl:

    Welcome to the forums. I'm transferring this thread to the English/French forum.

  3. <(:] SuPeRgIrL

    <(:] SuPeRgIrL Member

    Geordie land, Newcastle
    UK- English, Chinese
    thanks :) i'll maybe get a reply now
  4. Benjy

    Benjy Senior Member

    Milton Keynes, UK
    English - English
    general rule of thumb: if its short or common you stick it in front. otherwise it goes afterwards. apart from the colours. they always go afterwards. sometimes people but longer ones infront, but its usually in a more litterary context.
  5. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    You just have to learn them by heart. Colors, languages, and "complicated" or rarely used adjectives usually follow all nouns. You have to learn these ones:

    mauvais, -e
    bon, bonne
    vieux, vieil, vielle
    prochain, -e
    beau, belle
    joli, -e
    nouveau, nouvelle

    and just a few others, because those are the adjectives that usually preceed nouns:

    une mauvaise/bonne/vieille/belle/jolie/nouvelle... maison
    une maison verte/française/nouvelle/peinte/...

    Adjectives in italics can be before a noun or follow it. A matter by feel, I think.
  6. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    What is long and what is short? français is as short as mauvais, but français is usually put afterward and mauvais should preceed nouns. ;)
  7. Benjy

    Benjy Senior Member

    Milton Keynes, UK
    English - English
    i think i was confusing my general rules of thumb there. i was thinking about adverbs long/short and where they go in relation to the past participle.

    oops :eek:
  8. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Usually, adjectives go after the noun in French. Exceptions are of the following types:

    1) The adjective may be put before the noun for styllistic effect, in literature. In this case, it's also possible to put the adjective after the noun, without changing its meaning.

    2) Some adjectives have different meanings, according to whether they are placed before or after the noun, or they can only be placed before the noun. In this case, the two positions for the adjective are not interchangeable. Only a small number of adjectives fall under this category. Hopefully, the natives will be able to tell you more about them.

    P.S. "Bien" is an adverb, not an adjective. The corresponding adjective is "bon/bonne".
  9. Gil Senior Member

    Français, Canada
  10. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    What about "la semaine prochaine" and "la prochaine semaine"? Same goes for "l'ordinateur nouveau" and "le nouvel ordinateur" ...
  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    homme grand (tall/big man) <> grand homme (great man)
  12. mec_américain Senior Member

    US, English
    I was taught BANGS...Beauty, Age, Number, Goodness, Size. Beauty: beau, joli... Age: jeune, vieux... Number: autre Goodness: bon, mauvais Size: grand, petit, long. There are about a zillion exceptions, however: énorme seems like a size, but doesn't go before. And as pointed out, many change meanings when placed before or after. When in doubt, place the adjective after the noun.
  13. johnL Senior Member

    NC USA
    USA, English
    What's the difference between "un homme jeune" and "un jeune homme"?

  14. goldmundt New Member

    Ethiopia, amharic
    Un homme jeune is a young man. It is strictly related to his physical age. But when you say un jeune homme it is rather related to his state of mind, his behavior etc.
  15. nbellah Member

    United States; English
    I am really surprised that it took several several replies before anybody actually came up with the correct response.
    Le monsieur from Texas l'a très bien dit.
    Adjectives are placed after the noun in French except for BANGS. This, and the small list of adjectives that change meaning when they come before the noun, is all you really need to know. Someone has previously made you a list of the meaning changing adjectives.

    Good luck
  16. johnL Senior Member

    NC USA
    USA, English
    Bags? Like a sack? That's a very peculiar thing to have a rule for!

    So would you not say, "un petit oiseau" as Pierre Capretz does in his French in Action course?
  17. nbellah Member

    United States; English
    What are you talking about? The guy from Texas explained what BAGS stands for. Beauty Age Goodness Size some people include an "N" and that stands for Number and then you would have the acronym BANGS. So, if an adjective has to do with Beauty Age Goodness Number or Size it is located before the noun and all others should be placed after the noun...except for the adjectives that change meanings when placed before, for example: un ancien ami; un ami ancien.
    So, of course Monsieur Pierre Capretz is absolutely correct in putting petit before oiseau because petit means small or short and this has to do with size and lookey there Size is included in our acronym and we know that when we are dealing with adjectives that have to do with Beauty, Age, Goodness, Number or Size...we place them before the noun.
    So what exactly is your point?
  18. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    No, he wrote baNgs. Plus he used all-caps, whereas you didn't.
  19. nbellah Member

    United States; English
    Je suis désolée.
  20. johnL Senior Member

    NC USA
    USA, English
    Thank you, Outsider.
  21. me82 Senior Member

    Makes me think...

    Un certain talent and un talent certain mean 2 different things! Poor French learner...
  22. rampmg New Member

    Le Poem d'Adjectifs: (A little thing I learned in High School lo these many years ago.)

    Petit, grand, gros,
    Villain, jolie, beau,
    Autre, longue,
    Mauvais, bon,
    Vieu, nouvelle, (and two others that I cannot remember)

  23. pheelineerie

    pheelineerie Senior Member

    Lawrence, Kansas, USA
    American English
    For adjectives that change meaning according to whether they're before or after the noun, the most logical explanation (for me) is this: When the adjective is placed before the noun, the meaning is figurative. When it is placed after the noun, the meaning is literal.

    Un pauvre homme = a poor, pathetic man (figurative)
    Un homme pauvre = a man that is poor financially (literal)

    L'ancienne maison = the house we had before (figurative)
    La maison ancienne = the house is old (literal)

    Un grand homme = an important man (figurative)
    Un homme grand = a tall man (literal)

    Sometimes you just have to memorize, though:
    La dernière semaine = the last week (it's the last week of classes, for example)
    La semaine dernière = last week, the preceding week
  24. grantja Senior Member

    Do the adjectives 'gros/grosse' and 'mince' fall under the category of size?

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