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 Forum 3 questions, 5 answers

Aigü and aigüe

The example uses masculine and feminine endings but in your "instruction" there is no mention feminine v s masculine...only the NOT derived from verbs... become -üe in the written form, but are pronounced in exactly the same way as the masculine form."  Could you clarify this?   
Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super star

Hi Marnie,

Sorry but I don't understand your query, could explain the problem further?

Aigü and aigüe

The example uses masculine and feminine endings but in your "instruction" there is no mention feminine v s masculine...only the NOT derived from verbs... become -üe in the written form, but are pronounced in exactly the same way as the masculine form."  Could you clarify this?   

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Is there a difference between aiguë and aigüe?

In Larousse I can only find aiguë for the English "Shrill" or "Acute"
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
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 !

Is there a difference between aiguë and aigüe?

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

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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?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
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 !
DC1
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.

Thank you, most helpful

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?

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