Short and common adjectives that go BEFORE nouns (adjective position)

In French, the main rule regarding the position of adjectives is that they usually come AFTER the noun, [see Adjectives usually go AFTER nouns (adjective position)], but as always in French, there are exceptions

Here is a list of short and very common adjectives that go BEFORE the noun:

Masculine and feminine forms English
bon / bonne
good
mauvais / mauvaise
bad
beau / belle
beautiful, handsome
joli / jolie
pretty
vilain / vilaine
ugly, nasty/naughty
jeune
young
vieux / vieille
old
grand / grande
big, tall
petit / petite
small, little
gros / grosse
big, fat
faux / fausse
false
bref / brève
brief, short
long / longue
long
haut / haute
high
vaste
vast
nouveau / nouvelle
new

Here are some examples with these adjectives:

la belle fille
the beautiful girl

le petit chien
the small dog

la grande maison
the big house

la nouvelle voiture
the new car

une bonne idée
a good idea

un vieux pull
an old jumper

le long chemin
the long road

une brève réunion
a brief meeting

un joli chapeau
a pretty hat

une mauvaise blague
a bad joke

ATTENTION

As stated in Adjectives usually go AFTER nouns (adjective position), these adjectives will be AFTER the noun if :

- used with a long adverb (2 or more syllables) :

un bon vin, mais un vin extrêmement bon
a good wine, but an extremely good wine

- followed by a "complementary" group introduced by a preposition (à, de, pour, comme,...):

une bonne voiture, mais une voiture bonne pour la casse
a good car, but a car only good for scrap

 

These are not the only exceptions placed BEFORE the noun they refer to - see the more advanced lesson: Other adjectives that go BEFORE nouns 

 

See also how beau, vieux and nouveau are different: Beau, nouveau, vieux, fou, mou have two masculine forms and one feminine form and Beau, nouveau, vieux have different plural forms for masculine and feminine (adjectives)

See also Adjectives usually go AFTER nouns (adjective position)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

"French Grammar: Adjective Positions" by Transparent French


un bon vin, mais un vin extrêmement bon
a good wine, but an extremely good wine


une haute barrière
a high fence


le long chemin
the long road


une brève réunion
a brief meeting


Sur le long chemin,
Tout blanc de neige blanche, 
Un vieux monsieur s'avance, 

On the long path,
All white with white snow, 
An old man advances,


un vaste territoire
a vast land


une mauvaise blague
a bad joke


une bonne voiture, mais une voiture bonne pour la casse
a good car, but a car only good for scrap


un joli chapeau
a pretty hat


beau/belle (beautiful)


la belle fille
the beautiful girl


bon/bonne (good)


une bonne idée
a good idea


grand/grande (big)


la grande maison
the big house


nouveau/nouvelle (new)


la nouvelle voiture
the new car


petit/petite (small)


le petit chien
the small dog


vieux/vieille (old)


un vieux pull
an old jumper


Q&A Forum 17 questions, 26 answers

Using "grand(e)" to describe people

Note that when "grand(e)" is used to describe people, different rules apply:

– un grand homme = a great man

– un homme grand = a tall man

– https://www.linguee.com/french-english/translation/grand+homme.html

– https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/french-english/un-grand-homme

I haven't yet found this distinction set out on Kwiziq, but on lawlessfrench.com we can compare the different treatment as between things and people on these two pages:

– https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/adjectives/

– https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/movable-adjectives/

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Thank you for these useful links Aaron...

Using "grand(e)" to describe people

Note that when "grand(e)" is used to describe people, different rules apply:

– un grand homme = a great man

– un homme grand = a tall man

– https://www.linguee.com/french-english/translation/grand+homme.html

– https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/french-english/un-grand-homme

I haven't yet found this distinction set out on Kwiziq, but on lawlessfrench.com we can compare the different treatment as between things and people on these two pages:

– https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/adjectives/

– https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/movable-adjectives/

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

When is joli rather than beau the right word to use?

I was taught that a bâtiment is 'joli' not 'beau'.  Is there a reason or rule that explains which adjective to use for different things?

Asked 3 months ago
MarieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Grant,

Great question! "Beau/belle" and "joli/jolie" have different meanings, the same way "beautiful" and "pretty" do in English.

 

"Beau/belle" = "beautiful", so you would use it for describing something that possesses gracious, elegant, qualities of undeniable beauty.

Here are a few examples:

"Le Louvre est un beau bâtiment" (The Louvre is a beautiful building)

"La belle plage de Sète" (The beautiful beach in Sète)

"Les belles roses dans le jardin" (The beautiful roses in the garden)

 

"Joli/jolie" = "pretty", so you would use it for describing something that possesses visually pleasant, attractive and delicate qualities. 

Here are a few examples:

"Une jolie ferme à la campagne" (A pretty farmhouse in the countryside)

"Regarde mes jolies chaussures" (Look at my pretty shoes)

"C'est un joli service à thé" (This is a pretty tea set)

 

I hope this helps!

When is joli rather than beau the right word to use?

I was taught that a bâtiment is 'joli' not 'beau'.  Is there a reason or rule that explains which adjective to use for different things?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

KaiA0

Why is faux included?

Asked 5 months ago

Why is faux included?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

No quiz loading on this page

<>

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super star

HISagar, 

Can you report it via the Help and Support section as this is for language questions...

No quiz loading on this page

<>

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Hallo, I understood that the noun should be put before the adjective so why is Un Chat Petite is incorrect

Asked 8 months ago

The situation where adjectives are placed with respect to the noun is not clearcut in French. Some adjectives even change meaning depending on where they stand.

You can check here, for example: https://www.dummies.com/languages/french/how-to-place-of-french-adjectives-correctly/

thank you Chris for your assistance.

Hallo, I understood that the noun should be put before the adjective so why is Un Chat Petite is incorrect

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

A useful acronym

An acronym that I like to use is BANGS, which stands for beauty, age, numbers, good/bad, and size.

Adjective relating to these categories usually come before the noun. If you compare this to the list of adjective in the lesson above, you'll see a lot of them fit. 

Asked 1 year ago

Hi Steven, that's a great idea. Gives you a good handle on adjective placement. 

-- Chris. 

GruffKwiziq language super star
Nice! Thanks for sharing that Steven!

A useful acronym

An acronym that I like to use is BANGS, which stands for beauty, age, numbers, good/bad, and size.

Adjective relating to these categories usually come before the noun. If you compare this to the list of adjective in the lesson above, you'll see a lot of them fit. 

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

At times i also face this problem so i am repeatinf this again and again

Asked 1 year ago
What problem?

At times i also face this problem so i am repeatinf this again and again

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

"long/longue" coming before nouns --

This is tough to remember as an English speaker, since I am so familiar with a "chaise longue" -- is this the major exception to the rule that "long" generally comes before a noun? I see Aurelie's distinction that adjectives before nouns can be figurative and those after descriptive... but calling a chair "long" doesn't seem any more descriptive than calling a path "long," and yet from the lesson the long path is "le long chemin."
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Alison,

That's a very good point but 'chaise longue' refers to a particular type of chair (between a chair and a bed) and is taken as meaning this particular item.

Normally long/longue would precede the noun as in:

C'était un long discours = It was a long speech 

C'était un ami de longue date = It/He was a long standing friend

If you look at Steven's contribution at the end of the lesson, He suggests a useful acronym to remember the adjectives that normally come before the noun.

Hope this helps!

I guess what Aurélie means with descriptive is what in English one would write with a hyphen. A "chaise-longue" would be a "long-chair" whereas a "longue chaise" would be a "long chair". Greetings, -- Chris.

"long/longue" coming before nouns --

This is tough to remember as an English speaker, since I am so familiar with a "chaise longue" -- is this the major exception to the rule that "long" generally comes before a noun? I see Aurelie's distinction that adjectives before nouns can be figurative and those after descriptive... but calling a chair "long" doesn't seem any more descriptive than calling a path "long," and yet from the lesson the long path is "le long chemin."

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

"long adverb" VS "adverb with 2 or more syllables"

Suggestion: If "long adverb" means one with 2 or more syllables, then this should be clearly stated in the explantion. Thx
Asked 1 year ago
RonC1
Bonjour Stevenson, There is a «grammar rule» that says for adjectives that are longer words, they can be placed before the word without changing the sense of the adjective; however, I don't find a lesson that addresses this issue. I also have not heard it defined about having 2 or more syllables, but that quantification certainly fits. There is; however, a mention about other adjectives that precede the noun: Other adjectives that go BEFORE nouns Bonne chance.
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Stevenson ! I agree with you, and have now updated the lesson accordingly :) Bonne journée !

"long adverb" VS "adverb with 2 or more syllables"

Suggestion: If "long adverb" means one with 2 or more syllables, then this should be clearly stated in the explantion. Thx

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Could you explain what a 'complement' is in this context?

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Susan ! Thank you for this question: the term "complement" is indeed a bit vague here! What we meant here was "a complementary group introduced by a preposition (à, pour, comme, ...)". I've now updated the lesson accordingly. Merci et à bientôt !

Could you explain what a 'complement' is in this context?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

I don't have a Kwiz on this subject. Why is that?

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Cameron ! Could you be more specific as to what your issue is here? Are you talking about the microKwizzes not appearing on the page? Please let me know and I'd be happy to help!
Yes, that is what the problem is. One lesson's microKwizz did show up but not the other one I was having a problem with. It is the lesson, Short and common adjectives that go BEFORE the noun. Where the quiz should be it says 1 of 0 and the rest is a blank box.
not appearing for me either

I don't have a Kwiz on this subject. Why is that?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

SueC1

video

Thankyou for the video. There were some errors of English on the video. for example twards the end it is written before the noon, rather than noun.Also the pronunciation of good in English was unrecognisable
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Sue ! Thanks for letting us know, we've decided to remove that not-so-great video from this lesson. Merci et à bientôt !
SueC1
thank you I think your site is fantastic, but is let down by some of the video quality on the following lesson it had içi for ici, is this a spelling error or an alternative spelling?

video

Thankyou for the video. There were some errors of English on the video. for example twards the end it is written before the noon, rather than noun.Also the pronunciation of good in English was unrecognisable

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

SueC1

Grand

Again grand before or after the noun. Le grande homme I am told means the great man, one who is respected etc, whereas l' homme grand is the tall man. If we want to speficy that a person is tall do we have to place grand after the noun. thank you
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Sue ! You are correct as for the use of "grand" with "homme" or "femme", but this disctinction doesn't apply to objects or animals, for which you will always place "grand" before to indicate a physical characteristic: un grand ours une grande chaise I hope that's helpful!
SueC1
Salut Aurélie again a great answer
MaxC1
Somehow I missed that in 1963!

Grand

Again grand before or after the noun. Le grande homme I am told means the great man, one who is respected etc, whereas l' homme grand is the tall man. If we want to speficy that a person is tall do we have to place grand after the noun. thank you

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

SueC1

Jeune

Hi Laura You have Jeune before the noun, but it can be placed before or afterwards. The example i was given is un jeune professeur and a professeur jeune. The first meaning he was not long a professeur and the second that he was a professeur who was young in age. If this is the case can we always assume that jeune before the noun means young in age?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Sue, This lesson at an earlier level gives you the main rule for positions of adjectives in French, but of course (and as always with French!), there are further subtleties. Generally speaking, a lot of adjectives can be used either before or after the noun and here the nuance: "after" adjectives' meaning is more literal, objective or based on neutral observation (un prof jeune is a statement on his age) whereas "before" adjectives take on more of a subjective, figurative or based on opinion meaning (un jeune prof can be as much about an evaluation of his age as of his inexperience). I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
SueC1
Yes thankyou very much it really helps

Jeune

Hi Laura You have Jeune before the noun, but it can be placed before or afterwards. The example i was given is un jeune professeur and a professeur jeune. The first meaning he was not long a professeur and the second that he was a professeur who was young in age. If this is the case can we always assume that jeune before the noun means young in age?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Placement of "long"

"long" is listed here and elsewhere as an adjective that goes before the noun, so how come there are approximately the same number of hits on google for "longs cheveux" and "cheveux longs" (including quotation marks to preserve order) ?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Joakim, This lesson at an earlier level gives you the main rule for positions of adjectives in French, but of course (and as always with French!), there are further subtleties. Generally speaking, a lot of adjectives can be used either before or after the noun and here the nuance: "after" adjectives' meaning is more literal, objective or based on neutral observation ("des cheveux longs" is a basic statement on a physical characteristic) whereas "before" adjectives take on more of a subjective, figurative or based on opinion meaning ("de longs cheveux" contains already a positive (or negative) appreciation, and personal opinion). Obviously, in that specific case, these nuances are very subtle ;) I hope that's helpful!

Placement of "long"

"long" is listed here and elsewhere as an adjective that goes before the noun, so how come there are approximately the same number of hits on google for "longs cheveux" and "cheveux longs" (including quotation marks to preserve order) ?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

joil / jolie are listed in two lessons

Note that joil / jolie are listed here (good, they are short and common) and also in the lesson "Some less common adjectives go BEFORE the noun". Seems like there is no reason to list it again in the other lesson.
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Marc, Thanks for pointing this out, we'll get it fixed soon.

joil / jolie are listed in two lessons

Note that joil / jolie are listed here (good, they are short and common) and also in the lesson "Some less common adjectives go BEFORE the noun". Seems like there is no reason to list it again in the other lesson.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Position of adjectives

You have given us the general rule and exceptions. This is good. But scrolling down further I find a mind boggling array of existent exceptions. Can I choose to ignore and not worry about those for the short and mid term progress with the language?
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour David, Yes. The exceptions are a question of style rather than French grammar, so you can just ignore those until you're at B2 or so.

Position of adjectives

You have given us the general rule and exceptions. This is good. But scrolling down further I find a mind boggling array of existent exceptions. Can I choose to ignore and not worry about those for the short and mid term progress with the language?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Thinking...