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Forming the feminine of adjectives ending in -u

Look at these adjectives:

Il pousse un cri aigu à cause d'une douleur aigüe.
He gives a sharp scream because of a sharp pain.

Cet homme ambigu a eu une fin ambigüe.
This ambiguous man had an ambiguous end.

C'est un espace contigu dans une maison contigüe.
This is a contiguous space in a contiguous house.

Note that adjectives ending in -u (and NOT derived from verbs) become -üe in the written form, but are pronounced in exactly the same way as the masculine form. 

(The diaresis, ü, indicates here that the u is pronounced as a separate vowel, otherwise, for example, aigue would be pronounced rather like 'egg' in English.) 

Note that before the 1990s, the alternative -uë was the accepted spelling, and is still deemed acceptable now.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Cet homme ambigu a eu une fin ambigüe.
This ambiguous man had an ambiguous end.


Il pousse un cri aigu à cause d'une douleur aigüe.
He gives a sharp scream because of a sharp pain.


C'est un espace contigu dans une maison contigüe.
This is a contiguous space in a contiguous house.


Q&A

William

Kwiziq community member

21 February 2017

1 reply

Is there a difference between aiguë and aigüe?

In Larousse I can only find aiguë for the English "Shrill" or "Acute"

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 March 2017

10/03/17

Bonjour William !

The difference between the two is simply a change of spelling rule.

As the lesson states, "Note that before the 1990's, the alternative " -uë " was the accepted spelling, and is still deemed acceptable now."

Therefore, both "aigüe" and "aiguë" are correct, and they're pronounced the same :)

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Almut

Kwiziq community member

1 September 2016

2 replies

Other adjectives?

You write "Note that THESE adjectives ending in -u become -üe". So does this only concern exactly these three adjectives or are there others? Is it a general rule for adjectives on -u or are these exeptions?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

15 September 2016

15/09/16

Bonjour Almut !

Thank you for this very useful question!
Indeed, the lesson should actually say "adjectives ending in -u (and NOT derived from verbs)" - I've now updated it - meaning that there can be others (none pop to my head right now), but for example "déçu" (disappointed) WON'T follow that rule, coming from the verb "décevoir" (-> déçue).

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

D

Kwiziq community member

10 February 2017

10/02/17

I think what's relevant here is that the u comes after a g. The letter u is often placed after g to indicate that it's a "hard" g (like in "vague") rather than a "soft" g (like in "âge"). In that case the u is silent. Here the diaresis is needed to tell us that it's not a silent u.
Getting that for you now.