Tag Archive | Adjectives

Position of Adverbs

Going back to basics this week in terms of grammar.

Adverbs Qualifying Verbs

An adverb qualifying a verb in one of the simple tenses, ex.: the present, future, imperfect, or present conditional, should follow the verb.

  • Ils s’arrêtèrent brièvement. | They stopped briefly.
  • Ils arriveront inévitablement en retard. | They will inevitably arrive late.

Adverbs of place and other longer adverbs qualifying a verb in one of the compound tenses, ex.: the perfect, pluperfect, future perfect, or conditional perfect, follow the past participle.

  • Nous sommes restés ailleurs. | We stayed elsewhere.
  • Mon frère l’aurait écrit lisiblement. | My brother would have written it legibly.

Other, shorter adverbs usually come immediately before the past participle in compound tenses.

  • Je n’aurais jamais bien compris. | I should never have understood properly.
  • L’avait-elle déjà oublié ? | Hd she already forgotten it?

In all these cases, the adverb must not separate the subject and verb/auxiliary verb.

  • Nous avons demandé l’addition aussitôt. | We immediately asked for the bill.

Adverbs such as apparemment, assurément, heureusement, malheureusement, naturellement, peut-être, probablement may occur either in the regular position in relation to the verb, or (for emphasis) at the beginning of the sentence + que.

  • Il ne m’a rien dit, naturellement. | He said nothing to me, naturally.
  • Naturellement qu’il ne m’a dit rien.

Adverbs Qualifying Adjectives, Other Adverbs or Adverbial Phrases

Adverbs usually immediately precede the adjectives, other adverbs or adverbial phrases which they qualify.

  • Vous êtes parfaitement conscient de ce que vous faites ? | Are you perfectly well aware of what you are doing?
  • La voiture démarra très lentement. | The car started up very slowly.
  • Il faut revoir les chiffres, surtout à court terme. | We must review the figures, especially in the short term.

Adverbs Introducing or Qualifying a Whole Sentence

An adverb usually stands at the beginning of a sentence if it introduces or qualifies the whole sentence. This position adds emphasis to the adverb.

  • Malheureusement, je n’avais pas vérifié son adresse. | Unfortunately, I hadn’t checked his/her address.
  • Surtout, il faut se garder de réagir trop vite. | Above all, we must take care not to react too hastily.

Similarly, an adverb which provides a link with the previous statement will normally occur at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Le nouveau curé était très apprécié. Pourtant, il y avait des détracteurs. | The new priest was very well thought of. However, there were those who criticized him.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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The Subjunctive in Adjective Clauses

There is even more to the subjunctive than we have already tapped into. I’ve discussed this not too long ago here, here, and here.

An adjective clause is a subordinate clause that describes a noun much as an adjective does. Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses.

Most adjective clauses appear in the indicative:

Il a un travail qui lui plait. | He has a job that he likes.


Nous avons un bureau qui est confortable. | We have an office that’s comfortable.


Je me sers d’un ordinateur qui a beaucoup de mémoire. | I use a computer that has a lot of memory.


Il y a des entreprises ici qui font du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are firms here that trade with Mexico.

However, if the noun of the main clause in not identified or is negated, then the verb of the adjective clause appears in the subjunctive:

Il veut un travail qui lui plaise. | He wants a job that he will like.


On a besoin d’un bureau qui soit confortable. | We need an office that’s comfortable.


Je cherche un ordinateur qui ait beaucoup de mémoire. | I’m looking for a computer that has a lot of memory.


Il n’y a pas d’enterprises ici qui fassent du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are no firms here that trade with Mexico.

The subjunctive is therefore used after il n’y a rien qui/que, il n’y a personne qui/que, and il n’y a aucun/aucune X qui/que:

Il n’y a rien qui me plaise. | There’s nothing that appeals to me.


Il n’y a personne ici qui sache programmer. | There’s no one here who knows how to program.


Il n’y a aucune banque qui soit ouverte. | There’s no bank that’s open.

The indicative is used when there is no negative:

Il y a quelque chose qui me plaît. | There’s something that appeals to me.


Il y a quelqu’un ici qui sait programmer. | There’s someone here who knows how to program.


Il y a une banque qui est ouverte. | There’s a bank that’s open.


There’s even more on this subject, so be sure to come back next week for more! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Omitting the Possessive Adjective

In an imperative or command:

In French, possessive adjectives are used to modify the noun they precede.

Voici ma mère. | This is my mother.


Regarde ma nouvelle voiture ! | Look at my new car!

A common construction is one where the possessive adjective is dropped in an imperative or command (and replaced with a definite article along with a personal pronoun) only if an action is being taken on a physical attribute (head, back, arm etc.). In the following examples, action is not being taken on the physical attribute, therefore the possessive adjective remains.

Regarde mon dos. | Look at my back.


Remarque mes cheveux. | Notice my hair.

In the following examples, an action is being taken on the physical attribute.

Masse-moi le dos. | Massage my back.


Coupe-moi les cheveux. | Cut my hair.


Tiens-moi la main. | Hold my hand.

Verb

Possessive Adjective

Noun

masse

mon

dos

coupe

mes

cheveux

↙↘

Verb

Personal Pronoun

Definite Article

Noun

masse

moi

le

dos

coupe

moi

les

cheveux


In a statement:

The possessive adjective may also be dropped in a statement only if an action is being taken on the physical attribute. In the following examples, an action is not being taken.

Je regarde son dos. | I’m looking at his/her back.


Elle remarque ses cheveux. | She’s noticing his/her hair.

In the following examples, an action is being taken on the physical attribute.

Je lui masse le dos. | I’m massaging his/her back.


Elle me coupe les cheveux. | She’s cutting my hair.

The possessive adjective takes the form of the appropriate personal pronoun and is placed before the verb, and a definite article is placed before the object. The same applies to pronominal verbs (when the action is being done to oneself).

  • I wash my hands. = Je me lave les mains.
  • She brushes her hair. = Elle se brosse les cheveux.

Subject

Verb

Possessive Adjective

Object

je

masse

son

dos

elle

coupe

mes

cheveux

↙↘

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Verb

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

masse

le

dos

elle

me

coupe

les

cheveux


In the past tense (passé composé):

In the past tense as well, the personal pronoun is placed after the subject (just as it is in the present tense).

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Verb

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

masse

le

dos

elle

me

coupe

les

cheveux

↙↘

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Avoir

Past Participle

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

ai

massé

le

dos

elle

m’

a

coupé

les

cheveux


In the past tense using pronominal verbs:

The construction for using pronominal verbs is much like using passé composé with the exception that, as with all reflexive verbs, the past participle is conjugated with être.

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Être

Past Participle

Definite Article

Object

je

me

suis

lavé

les

mains

elle

s’

est

cassé

la

jambe


I hope everyone is doing well and having a wonderful week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

The Superlative Form of Adjectives

The superlative form of adjectives is made by introducing the definite article (le/la/les) – or if appropriate, the possessive adjective – before the comparative form of the adjective.

  • C’est ma plus belle peinture.
  • It’s my finest painting.
  • Ce sont les garçons les plus travailleurs de la classe.
  • They are the most hardworking boys in the class.

The adjective bon has as its superlative form le meilleur.

  • C’est le meilleur choix.
  • It’s the best choice.

The adjectives mauvais and petit each have two superlative forms:

Le plus mauvais is used more frequently than le pire.

  • C’est le plus mauvais acteur que j’aie vu.
  • He’s the worst actor I’ve seen.

Le plus petit is used to refer to physical size, while le moindre is common with abstract nouns:

  • C’est la plus petite salle.
  • It’s the smallest room.
  • Vous pouvez me consulter si vous avez la moindre difficulté.
  • You can consult me if you have the least difficulty.

It’s a new month! What do we want to see next on the blog?

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Comparative Forms of Adjectives

In French, the comparative form of adjectives requires plus/moins before the regular form.

  • Cette rue est plus longue que l’autre.
  • This road is longer than the other.
  • Cette ville est moins propre que la nôtre.
  • This city is less clean/not as clean as ours.

If the comparison uses “so much more/less (adjective)… than”, use tellement plus/moins (adjective)… que.

  • Ce nouveau bâtiment est tellement plus joli que l’ancien.
  • This new building is so much prettier than the old one.
  • Mon jardin est tellement moins bien organisé que le tien.
  • My garden is so much less well organised than yours.

There are several adjectives that have irregular comparatives.

The comparative form of bon is irregular: meilleur.

  • Ce vin est meilleur que celui de l’année dernière.
  • This wine is better than last year’s.

The adjective mauvais has the regular comparative form plus mauvais, and also an irregular form: pire.

  • Cet album est plus mauvais que le dernier.
  • This album is worse than the last.
  • Le comportement du nouvel élève était encore pire.
  • The new student’s behaviour was even worse.
  • Vous avez entendu la dernière nouvelle ? C’est pire.
  • Did you hear the latest news? It’s worse.

Petit has the regular comparative form plus petit, which is always used for references to physical size.

  • Anne est plus petite qu’Estelle.
  • Anne is smaller than Estelle.

There is also the irregular comparative form moindre, which is rarely used, used normally  in literary style.

  • Ce détail est d’un moindre intérêt.
  • This detail is of less interest.

I hope everyone is well. Stay safe!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Negation of Adjectives

For adjectives occurring after the noun they qualify, there may exist an antonym, or a negative form.

  • les cheveux courts/longs – short/long hair
  • une réponse admissible/inadmissible – an acceptable/unacceptable reply
  • une personne contente/mécontente – a happy/unhappy person

If such a form doesn’t exist, the adjective can be negated by peu, especially in formal usage:

  • une proposition peu rentable (formal) – an unprofitable proposal
  • un employé peu disposé à s’adapter (formal) – an employee unwilling to adapt

In a less formal usage, it would be more common to negate the verb:

  • Cette proposition n’est pas rentable. – This proposal isn’t profitable.

I hope everyone is doing well this week. As always, feel free to ask questions or request a lesson. Have a great week!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Bon vs. Bien

A new versus! This one even stumps advanced French students. Hopefully this will help clear up any confusion you may have.

Bon

With a noun:

  • J’ai mangé dans un bon restaurant. – I ate at a good restaurant.
  • J’ai regardé une bonne émission. – I watched a good episode/programme.

With ‘être’:

  • To say something is delicious:
    • Cette pomme est bonne. – This apple is good.
  • To say something is ready or ok:
    • C’est bon ? On y va ? – Are you ready? Shall we go?
  • To say something is correct or is of good quality:
    • Ta dissertation est bonne. – Your essay is good.

Bien

With a verb:

  • Elle chante bien. – She sings well.
  • Je patine bien. – I skate well.

With ‘être’:

  • To say something is cool, nice, or interesting:
    • Ce film est bon. – This movie is good.
    • Cette peinture est bien. – This painting is cool.
    • Ton appartement est bien. – Your apartment is nice.

Hopefully this short but sweet versus post was at least helpful for everyone. Whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you a happy one! Happy solstice as well!

A la prochaine !

Courtney