FR: différent - place de l'adjectif

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by jjjbec, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. jjjbec Senior Member

    England/ English

    I understand that the adjective 'différent' can be used before and after the noun in French. Can somebody explain to me what the difference in meaning is?


    Moderator note: Multiple threads have been merged to create this one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2012
  2. itka Senior Member

    Nice, France
    I would say before the noun, it means "various", "diverse" and after the noun, it properly means "different".

    J'ai vu différents modèles de jupes.
    I saw various kinds of shirts.

    J'ai choisi un modèle différent.
    I choose a different model.

    I'm afraid that's not always true, but more or less, (let's say 90 %) it is right.
  3. jjjbec Senior Member

    England/ English
    Thanks, that makes sense.

    SO what would be the difference between saying

    de differents enfants

    and des enfants differents?

  4. itka Senior Member

    Nice, France
    You need context to understand.

    So, I take some examples :

    J'ai besoin de l'avis de différents enfants pour savoir si ce livre leur plaira.
    I need the opinion of several children ... (more than one or two...)

    J'ai besoin de l'avis d'enfants différents...
    I need the opinion of different childrent...(children coming from different contries, different social level, etc...)
  5. nettothenetizen Senior Member

    Hi! I was wondering when the word "différent" is placed before or after nouns? I've seen different things in different cases, like ces différents besoins, les différentes raisons, but les cultures différentes. Is there a way to tell?

  6. Micia93

    Micia93 Senior Member

    in the center of France
    "il y a des raisons / besoins / cultures / différents (es) dans le monde"
    "les différents (es) raisons / besoins / cultures qui expliquent cela ..."

    is it clearer ?
  7. nettothenetizen Senior Member

    Thanks! Hmmm.. but is there a more general rule? I'm still not very clear about this...
  8. Micia93

    Micia93 Senior Member

    in the center of France
    of course, an example is not a rule, but let's say that if a sentence begins with
    "il y a" the adjective is after the noun, if the noun starts the sentence, the adjective is then before the word
    I had never thought of that, and can only explain it this way
    wait for an expert in grammar ! :=)
  9. ledders Senior Member

    English - England
    Could it be that it's:

    un/une/des + noun + différent


    le/la/les + différent + noun

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
  10. Micia93

    Micia93 Senior Member

    in the center of France
    I quite don't understand your question :(
  11. TitTornade

    TitTornade Senior Member

    To me, the meaning is not exactly the same when you change the position of "différent".
    "Dans ce pays cohabitent des personnes de différentes cultures." the meaning is close to: "plusieurs cultures" ; "différent" could mean something as "several".

    "Ces pays ont des cultures différentes." the meaning of "différent" is close to: "not the same".

    But these differences between the two positions are quite small and certainly not always true...

    I hope it helps...
  12. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    TitTornade explains it as I've always understood it. I find that différents before the noun often translates as various.
  13. ledders Senior Member

    English - England
    I was just wondering if différent went after the noun when the indefinite article is used, and before the noun when the definite article is used, as that's what your examples seem to show :)

    But the other responses are probably more helpful :eek:
  14. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Différent(e)s is less likely to mean various/plusieurs after the indefinite article. Some various/several cultures? Quelques différentes/plusieurs cultures?

    If you mean "different"/"not the same", I imagine you could say "les cultures différentes qu'on a mentionnées" (the [very] different cultures we were talking about).

    N'est-ce pas?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
  15. TitTornade

    TitTornade Senior Member

    I don't think the article plays a role :
    "les différentes cultures que nous avons mentionnées..." = "the various cultures we were talking about..."
    "les cultures différentes que nous avons mentionnées..." = "the (very) different cultures we were talking about..."

    But the differences are really narrow, I guess... ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
  16. CapnPrep Senior Member

    That's right. In fact, in such cases, différents functions as a determiner and the indefinite article is impossible:
    De(s) différentes cultures ont été mentionnées.
    Différentes cultures ont été mentionnées.
    See also the following thread:
    de différents X / différents X
  17. LorenD Member

    I am writing a french oral and would like to know if you would say "bâtiments de différentes époques" or "bâtiments de époques différentes". Google translate says "bâtiments de différentes époques" but I don't trust this.
  18. Tochka Senior Member

    Les francophones peuvent me corriger, mais il me paraît que...
    If you want to stress the fact that the periods in question all differ from each other, you would place différentes behind the noun, but if you just mean various ages, then it would probably go before it.
  19. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    If you mean various, the adjective should precede the noun; if you mean different, it should follow it.

    différentes époques = various eras
    époques différentes = different eras
  20. Bluelady

    Bluelady Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French - France
    Bâtiments de différentes époques, but anyway bâtiments d'époques différentes is also possible, provided you don't forget the elision of e in de before a word (here, époques) beginning with a vowel.
  21. bcd85 Member

    I'm so confused. I always thought the word "different" went after the noun. But I just saw this sentence:

    "Ces sont les different parties de mon avion"

    Is it before or after the noun?
  22. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member


    In this case, différentes is a determiner. It means various or different (These are the various/different parts of...)
    When it comes after the noun, it means "dissimilar".
  23. CapnPrep Senior Member

    It has the meaning you explained, but it can't be a determiner in this specific example (since it is preceded by les). Différent(e)s can only be used as an indefinite determiner, as in the examples given earlier in this thread.
  24. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    You're right, my bad!
  25. saltsway Member


    Est-ce que l'adjectif "différent" change de sens lorsqu'il est placé avant le verbe? Je crois avoir appris cela dans un cour il y a quelques ans, mais je ne réussis pas à le confirmer dans mon dictionnaire.

    Par exemple: pour de différentes raisons/ pour des raisons différentes

    Dans le premier cas, je croyais qu'il s'agissait de plusieurs raisons, lorsque dans le second, je croyais que l'emphase était sur la différence entre elles.

    Mille fois merci.
  26. mehoul Senior Member

    Tu as raison, dans le premier cas ça signifie "several reasons" et dans le deuxième cas "other reasons" (qui suppose qu'on a déjà parlé d'une certaine raison potentielle).
  27. saltsway Member

    Merci mehoul! Il fallait en être certain. Vous m'avez empêchée de faire d'importantes fautes/des fautes importantes dans un document à rendre toute à l'heure :)

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