Vrai = real / true (adjectives that change meaning according to position)

Note that certain adjectives change their meanings depending if they appear before or after the noun.

Look at these uses of vrai:

Une histoire vraie.
A true story.

Une vraie histoire.
Quite a story.

Before the noun, vrai means quite a / elaborate / interesting.

After the noun, vrai means true/real.

Note that generally adjectives appear after the noun, but some very common adjectives go before.

 

See also: 

Ancien = former / old (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Cher= dear / expensive (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Certain = specific / sure (adjectives that change meaning according to position) 

Dernier = final / previous (adjectives that change meaning according to position)

Propre = own / clean (adjectives that change meaning according to position)

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Une vraie histoire.
Quite a story.


Une histoire vraie.
A true story.



Q&A Forum 6 questions, 18 answers

LorieB1Kwiziq community member

Une vraie histoire

In the expression "une vraie histoire," is there any implication that the elaborate story is untrue? In English, "quite a story" can suggest that the audience might doubt the truth of the story. Is there any of that implied in French?

Asked 1 month ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Sorry I missed this interesting discussion...

In French it is simpler I think -

Un vraie histoire means a story worth telling for its merits, not for the fact that it is true. 

Une histoire vraie emphasizes the fact of its veracity, maybe it's so outlandish that it is hard to believe and you want to insist on the fact that you are not lying.

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

une vraie histoire -- a real story (quite a story)
une histoire vraie -- a true story

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

But that doesn't answer the question. Or are we supposed to assume the answer is "no"?

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The question whether the story is actually true or not is not a language question. I don't really know. I tried to clarify what I thought pertained to learning French. Maybe you can answer it?

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

As a native English speaker, I can say that "quite a story" is sometimes used to imply that a story is false. That is a language question. Probably only a native French speaker can say whether that is also true for "une vraie histoire"

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Yes, "quite a story" can mean that it is either not true or that it is an unexpected or really remarkable story. So it is still ambiguous, even in English.

The native speaker I polled on this (Alsacienne) said that une vraie histoire can be both, just like in English. To her, it could mean either that it was a remarkable story or a spun tale.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I wouldn't say it's ambiguous, exactly. It always means a remarkable story, but in certain situations it clearly implies that you thought it was untrue. But is this also the case in French? Maybe it's never used in this sarcastic sense. We don't know, which is why Lorie asked the question. What does your friend mean by "a spun tale"? Of course "une vraie histoire" can be fictional, but that's not the question. We're talking specifically about the case where someone presents a story as true, and the listener uses the phrase to cast doubt on it. Is that what she means?

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

In English it is ambiguous. Depending on your tone of voice and context it can mean either. And that seems to be born out in French as well. That's why I gave the English translation in my first response the way I did.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

If that's really what you meant by your first response, a few more words would have been helpful.

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Well, thanks to you, now there are a lot of words in this response and the answer made clear. :)

Une vraie histoire

In the expression "une vraie histoire," is there any implication that the elaborate story is untrue? In English, "quite a story" can suggest that the audience might doubt the truth of the story. Is there any of that implied in French?

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FriendC1Kwiziq community member

I thought the plural of "un" and "une" was " des", but the video link example says it is "de". Is that correct?

Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Friend, 

If you mean in 'de beaux arbres'  -

Take a look at the following Kwiziq lesson which will illustrate this little rule -

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/use-de-d-instead-of-des-in-front-of-adjectives-preceding-nouns-partitive-article

Hope this helps!

FriendC1Kwiziq community member

Merci! Wow, I've been using "des" in front of adjectives for years. Very embarrassing.

I thought the plural of "un" and "une" was " des", but the video link example says it is "de". Is that correct?

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BlixC1Kwiziq community member

Un vrai plaisir

Asked 1 year ago
BlixC1Kwiziq community member
I retract my question.

Un vrai plaisir

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MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Vrai vs. faux

I think it would be helpful to point out in this lesson that vrai vs. faux do not behave (placement) in the same was as other opposites such as grand/petit, bon/mauvais etc.
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Melody ! Could you please clarify what you mean here ? Merci :)
MelodyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I was also referencing the lesson Short and common adjectives that go BEFORE nouns (adjective position) It's easy to miss the fact while faux obeys the usual rules, vrai does not. Other opposites do. I made the wrong assumption about vrai/ faux. All I was suggesting was adding this as a link to the current lesson, or noting in the lesson linked above, that vrai and faux to not behave in the same way as other opposites.

Vrai vs. faux

I think it would be helpful to point out in this lesson that vrai vs. faux do not behave (placement) in the same was as other opposites such as grand/petit, bon/mauvais etc.

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JoakimC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Translation

I'm reading "seul sur Mars" (originally in English). The protagonist is testing that his equipment can clean air properly: "D’accord, ce n’est pas un vrai test, car je ne suis pas à l’intérieur à consommer de l’oxygène et produire du CO2". If understand this lesson properly, a better translation would be "ce n'est pas un test vrai" ?
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Joakim ! First of all, well done! That's quite a challenge! As for "vrai", the nuance of position is more complicated than this. As I told you before, generally speaking, a lot of adjectives can be used either before or after the noun. Used "after", adjectives' meaning is more literal, objective or based on neutral observation (thus "vrai" meaning "true/real" in an objective manner there), whereas used "before", adjectives take on more of a subjective, figurative or based on opinion meaning ("vrai" expressing more of an opinion of something = "a real man"). So while "un test vrai" would sound very neutral, using "un vrai test" here is also perfectly acceptable, and brings a extra "value" layer to the expression: "a test worthy of that name".

Translation

I'm reading "seul sur Mars" (originally in English). The protagonist is testing that his equipment can clean air properly: "D’accord, ce n’est pas un vrai test, car je ne suis pas à l’intérieur à consommer de l’oxygène et produire du CO2". If understand this lesson properly, a better translation would be "ce n'est pas un test vrai" ?

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JohnB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

true story = real story?

This one is a bit hard to distinguish since isn't a real story a true story? When we say it's quite a story, it means it's an elaborate, interesting story, right?
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour John ! We completely agreed with$your suggestions, and edited the lesson accordingly! Merci et à bientôt !
KatieC1Kwiziq community member
Following your comments here, shouldn't the title of the lesson also be changed to reflect your edits? As such: Adjectives That Change Meaning According to Position - vrai (quite, elaborate, interesting / real, true)

true story = real story?

This one is a bit hard to distinguish since isn't a real story a true story? When we say it's quite a story, it means it's an elaborate, interesting story, right?

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