10 french adjectives

The Top 10 Most Used Adjectives in French: A Guide for English Speakers

Introduction

Welcome to our lesson on the top 10 most used adjectives in the French language! As an English speaker, learning these adjectives will not only enhance your vocabulary but also improve your ability to describe people, places, and things in French.

French free lesson

Important Note on Adjective Placement

In French, these adjectives typically come before the noun they modify, unlike in English where adjectives usually follow the noun. This is a crucial aspect of French grammar to remember.

1. bon, bonne (Good)

  • Bon is used for masculine nouns: “un bon livre” (a good book).
  • Bonne is for feminine nouns: “une bonne idée” (a good idea).

2. grand, grande (Big, Tall)

  • Grand for masculine: “un grand arbre” (a big tree).
  • Grande for feminine: “une grande maison” (a big house).

3. petit, petite (Small, Little)

  • Petit for masculine: “un petit chien” (a small dog).
  • Petite for feminine: “une petite table” (a small table).

4. jeune (Young)

  • Used for both genders: “un jeune homme” (a young man), “une jeune femme” (a young woman).

5. vieux, vieille (Old)

  • Vieux for masculine: “un vieux livre” (an old book).
  • Vieille for feminine: “une vieille chaise” (an old chair).

6. beau, belle (Beautiful, Handsome)

  • Beau before masculine nouns: “un beau jardin” (a beautiful garden).
  • Belle for feminine: “une belle vue” (a beautiful view).

7. nouveau, nouvelle (New)

  • Nouveau for masculine: “un nouveau téléphone” (a new phone).
  • Nouvelle for feminine: “une nouvelle voiture” (a new car).

8. mauvais, mauvaise (Bad)

  • Mauvais for masculine: “un mauvais film” (a bad movie).
  • Mauvaise for feminine: “une mauvaise expérience” (a bad experience).

9. joli, jolie (Pretty)

  • Joli for masculine: “un joli tableau” (a pretty painting).
  • Jolie for feminine: “une jolie fleur” (a pretty flower).

10. long, longue (Long)

  • Long for masculine: “un long voyage” (a long journey).
  • Longue for feminine: “une longue histoire” (a long story).

Important

In French, the adjectives “nouveau,” “vieux,” and “beau” have special forms when followed by a masculine noun starting with a vowel or a mute ‘h.’ This rule is applied to facilitate pronunciation and to avoid an awkward pause between words. Here is the specific rule for each of these adjectives:

  1. Nouveau:
    • Becomes “nouvel” in front of a masculine noun starting with a vowel or a mute ‘h.’
    • Example: “un nouvel appartement” (a new apartment) instead of “un nouveau appartement.”
  2. Vieux:
    • Becomes “vieil” in the same case.
    • Example: “un vieil homme” (an old man) instead of “un vieux homme.”
  3. Beau:
    • Becomes “bel” before a masculine noun starting with a vowel or a mute ‘h.’
    • Example: “un bel arbre” (a beautiful tree) instead of “un beau arbre.”

These forms are only used in the masculine singular and before a noun starting with a vowel or a mute ‘h’ to improve the flow of pronunciation in French.

Adjective Special Form Used Before Example (Special Form)
nouveau nouvel Masculine noun starting with a vowel or mute ‘h’ un nouvel appartement
vieux vieil Masculine noun starting with a vowel or mute ‘h’ un vieil homme
beau bel Masculine noun starting with a vowel or mute ‘h’ un bel arbre

Practice

Exercise 1: Translate to French

Translate the following English sentences into French using the correct adjectives.

  1. A beautiful song.
  2. A tall tree.
  3. A small house.
  4. An old book.
  5. A good idea.
answers
  1. Une belle chanson.
  2. Un grand arbre.
  3. Une petite maison.
  4. Un vieux livre.
  5. Une bonne idée.

Exercise 2: Fill in the Blank

Fill in the blank in each French sentence with the correct adjective.

  1. “Une ______ voiture.” (a new car)
  2. “Un ______ garçon.” (a young boy)
  3. “Une ______ femme.” (an old woman)
  4. “Un ______ chat.” (a pretty cat)
  5. “Une ______ histoire.” (a long story)
answers
  1. Une nouvelle voiture.
  2. Un jeune garçon.
  3. Une vieille femme.
  4. Un joli chat.
  5. Une longue histoire.

Exercise 3: Choose the Correct Form

Choose the correct form of the adjective for each French sentence.

  1. Une (beau/belle) fleur.
  2. Un (nouveau/nouvelle) ami.
  3. Une (grand/grande) porte.
  4. Un (mauvais/mauvaise) rêve.
  5. Un (long/longue) film.
answers
  1. Une belle fleur.
  2. Un nouvel ami.
  3. Une grande porte.
  4. Un mauvais rêve.
  5. Un long film.

➡︎ Translation

  1. A beautiful flower.
  2. A new friend.
  3. A big door.
  4. A bad dream.
  5. A long movie.

Exercise 4 : Practice Using Special Forms of “Nouveau,” “Vieux,” and “Beau”

For this exercise, choose the correct special form of the adjectives “nouveau,” “vieux,” or “beau” to complete the sentences. Remember, these special forms are used before masculine nouns starting with a vowel or a mute ‘h’.

  1. Voici un (nouveau/nouvel) hôtel.
  2. Son oncle est un (vieux/vieil) ami de la famille.
  3. Tu regardes le (beau/bel) oiseau dans le jardin.
  4. C’est un (nouveau/nouvel) ordinateur.
  5. Le (vieux/vieil) arbre du jardin est toujours debout.
answers
  1. Voici un nouvel hôtel.
  2. Son oncle est un vieil ami de la famille.
  3. Tu regardes le bel oiseau dans le jardin.
  4. C’est un nouvel ordinateur.
  5. Le vieil arbre du jardin est toujours debout.

➡︎ Translation

  1. Here is a new hotel.”
  2. His/Her uncle is an old friend of the family.
  3. You are looking at the beautiful bird in the garden.
  4. It’s a new computer.
  5. The old tree in the garden is still standing.

Conclusion

Understanding and using these top 10 French adjectives will greatly aid your communication in French. Remember, adjectives in French must agree in gender and number with the nouns they describe. Happy learning and bonne chance!

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