FR: combles - singulier / pluriel

Language Hound

Senior Member
American English
While watching a report on energy-conserving renovations, I heard: Il a isolé ses combles.
From the context, I understood that the person had insulated his attic.
Both the WR dictionary and Collins confirmed my understanding.
However, as I had not ever come across this meaning of "comble" before, I have a couple questions, one of which I'll post here.

--When referring to an attic, is "comble" always used in the plural?

The WR dictionary lists it in the singular but uses it in the plural in the sample sentence:
comble nm(espace sous les toits)attic, loft n
Il a installé un appartement sous les combles.
He's put in an apartment in the attic (or: loft).
Collins lists it as plural:
combles
nmpl (CONSTRUCTION) attic (sg), loft (sg)
sous les combles in the attic
Thank you for setting me straight on this.:)
 
  • Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    In that meaning the word is always plural in modern French (les combles) but you can find older texts where the word is used in the singular. According to TLFi:
    2. P. ext., usuel
    a) Le comble ou plus fréquemment les combles. Partie du bâtiment située sous le toit. Aménager les combles en appartements; loger dans/sous les combles; chambre, mansarde située dans/sous les combles:
    1. Les ateliers occupaient les combles, une suite de salles basses et mansardées, éclairées de larges baies taillées dans le zinc, ... Zola, Au Bonheur des dames,1883, p. 716.
     
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