Tag Archive | French Adjectives

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

Advertisements

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

The Superlative

In English, the superlative is expressed by adding -est to an adjective or adverb (ex: small → smallest; slow → slowest), or by adding the words “most” or “least” in front of the adjective or adverb (ex: beautiful → most beautiful; happy → least happy).

The superlative in French is expressed by placing the definite article and the words plus or moins in front of the adjective or adverb.

  • Je crois que c’est la région la plus pittoresque du pays.
  • I think that this is the most picturesque region in the country.
  • Eric est le plus grand élève de la classe.
  • Eric is the tallest student in the class.
  • Aurélie lit le plus vite.
  • Aurélie reads the fastest.

The form of the definite article (le, la, les) used depends upon the noun which follows, to which the adjective refers and with which it agrees in gender and number. However, the article is always le in adverbial superlative expressions.


Irregular Comparative and Superlative Forms

The comparative and superlative forms of the adjective bon (good) and the comparative of the adverb bien (well) are irregular in both French and English.

Positive

Comparative

Superlative

Adjective

Bon (good)

Meilleur (better, masculine)

Le meilleur (the best, masculine)

Meilleure (better, feminine)

La meilleure (the best, feminine)

Adverb

Bien (well)

Mieux (better)

Le mieux (the best)

  • Si nous allions à un meilleur restaurant, nous mangerions mieux.
  • If we went to a better restaurant, we would eat better.
  • Félicitations, je te souhaite le mieux !
  • Congratulations, I wish you the best!

Happy first day of December! As we get closer to wrapping up this year, I’d like to hear from you guys – what you like, what you don’t like, what you’d like to see more of. I want to make this blog work for everyone and their needs.

Merci à vous !

Courtney