Adjective Order

April 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

In French, the majority of the adjectives come after the noun that they describe.

There are a few exceptions, where certain adjectives are placed before the noun. The general rule of thumb is BAGS. Adjectives that describe Beauty, Age, Goodness, or Size are placed before the noun. Another way of classifying adjective placement is that adjectives that express opinion go before a noun, but adjectives that express facts go after the noun.

One pretty all-inclusive textbook has this list of adjectives that go before the noun

bon                      petit                         vaste                                 joli mauvais                        grand                               haut                    beau
long        gros                          large             vieux

There are a couple other little tweaks when it comes to word order.

1. When the adjective describes a person, the adjective comes before the noun.
l’orgueilleux Louis XIV
la brillante Elisabeth

2. There are certain adjectives, that when used in a more abstract sense, come before the noun.
une lourde atmosphère versus une boîte lourde
une triste histoire versus une personne triste
une folle passion versus un chien fou

3. When there are multiple adjectives

*before adjectives – place them before the noun
la belle vieille dame – the beautiful old lady
une longue triste histoire

*following adjectives – place them after the noun, separated by commas and an “and” – whatever is necessary
le drapeau bleu, blanc, et rouge
l’étudiant intelligent et rigolo

* combination of adjectives
la petite maison grise
un bon vin blanc

Je crois que c’est tout.

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