French Grammar: Adjective Placement – Basics

French Grammar: Adjective Placement

French Grammar: Adjective Placement


French Grammar: Adjective Placement – Basics
la grammaire française: la disposition des adjectifs – une introduction

In French, the position of adjectives (adjective placement) is very important.  French adjectives usually go AFTER most nouns.  But some adjectives go before nouns.  If you don’t arrange your nouns and adjectives correctly, French-speaking people won’t understand what you are saying!


In English, adjectives usually go BEFORE the nouns they are describing. This is what is meant by adjective placement – that is, the adjective needs to go in the right place next to the noun it describes.

I have a red car.

You live in a big house.

We have three difficult classes.

They are funny and intelligent people.

In French, adjectives usually go AFTER the nouns they are describing.

Michel est un homme intelligent.

Michael is a smart guy.

Où est la voiture rouge?

Where is the red car?

Le français est une classe facile.

French is an easy class.

J’ai une amie heureuseintelligente, et amusante.
I have a happy, intelligent, and funny friend (female).

Just like in English, when using more that one adjective to describe something, use commas in between adjectives and “et” before the last adjective.

Je porte des chaussures bleues, blanches, et noirs.

I’m wearing blue, black, and white shoes.

Mon ami est intéressant, intelligent, et généreux.
My friend (maasculine) is interesting, intelligent, and generous.

Ma soeur est ennuyeuse, paresseuse, et bête.

My sister is boring, lazy, and stupid.

However, French adjectives that indicate the quantity of something are placed in front of the noun.

Je prends plusieurs cours.

I am taking several courses.

Il y a divers ordinateurs dans le labo.
There are various computers in the lab.

Le professeur a trente étudiants.
The professor has thirty students.

There are also some French adjectives other than adjectives of quantity that come BEFORE the noun they describe.  A good way to remember which adjectives these are is to remember the English phrase “MA BRAGS”.

  • The M stands for “MÊME(S)” and means ‘same’ in English.
  • The ‘A stands for “AUTRE(S)” and means ‘another’ (singular) or ‘other’ (plural) in English.
  • The ‘B’ stands for BEAUTY and includes the French adjectives beau(x) / bel* (handsome), belle(s) (beautiful), and joli(s) / jolie(s) (pretty).
  • The ‘R’ stands for RANK and includes the French adjectives premier(s) / première(s), deuxième(s), troisième(s)(first, second, third, etc.), dernier(s) / dernière(s) (last), and seul(s) / seule(s) (only).
  • The ‘A’ stands for AGE and includes the French adjectives jeune(s) (young), vieux / vieil* / vieille(s) (old), and nouveau(x) / nouvel* / nouvelle(s) (new).
  • The ‘G’ stands for GOODNESS and includes the French adjectives bon(s) / bonne(s) (good) and mauvais / mauvaise(s) (bad).
  • The ‘S’ stands for SIZE and includes the French adjectives grand(s) / grande(s) (big / tall), petit(s) / petite(s) (little / small / short), and gros / grosse(s) (fat).

* The forms bel, vieil, and nouvel are used ONLY before a masculine singular noun that begins with a vowel or a silent ‘h’.


Vous avez une voiture rouge?

Do you (formal) have a red car?

Non, je n’ai pas de voiture rouge.

No, I do not have a red car.

Tu as un nouveau camarade de chambre?

Do you (familiar) have a new (male) roommate?

Oui, j’ai deux nouveaux camarades de chambre.
Yes, I have two new roommates.

Il y a une grande télévision dans le salon?

Is there a big television in the living room?

Oui, il y a une grande télévision dans le salon.

Yes, there is a big television in the living room.

Vous avez un stylo bleu?
Do you (formal) have a blue pen.

Oui, j’ai un stylo bleu.
Yes, I have a blue pen.

Où est le jeune homme?
Where is the young man?

Le jeune homme est dans le bureau avec le vieil homme.

The young man is in the office with the old man.


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