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

Grant

Kwiziq community member

20 April 2019

0 replies

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?

Kai

Kwiziq community member

6 March 2019

0 replies

Why is faux included?

Sagar

Kwiziq community member

20 December 2018

1 reply

No quiz loading on this page

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Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

21 December 2018

21/12/18

HISagar, 

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

Cindy

Kwiziq community member

21 November 2018

2 replies

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

21 November 2018

21/11/18

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/

Cindy

Kwiziq community member

22 November 2018

22/11/18

thank you Chris for your assistance.

steven

Kwiziq community member

8 April 2018

2 replies

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. 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

9 April 2018

9/04/18

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

-- Chris. 

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

14 April 2018

14/04/18

Nice! Thanks for sharing that Steven!

Inderpreet

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2018

1 reply

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2018

24/02/18

What problem?

Alison

Kwiziq community member

10 January 2018

2 replies

"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."

Chris

Kwiziq community member

11 January 2018

11/01/18

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.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

5 September 2018

5/09/18

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!

Stevenson

Kwiziq community member

18 November 2017

2 replies

"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

Ron

Kwiziq community member

19 November 2017

19/11/17

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: https://french.kwiziq.com/my-languages/french/view/2989 Bonne chance.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 November 2017

19/11/17

Bonjour Stevenson ! I agree with you, and have now updated the lesson accordingly :) Bonne journée !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

15 February 2017

1 reply

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 March 2017

13/03/17

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 !

Cameron

Kwiziq community member

15 December 2016

3 replies

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

16 December 2016

16/12/16

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!

Cameron

Kwiziq community member

16 December 2016

16/12/16

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.

Andre

Kwiziq community member

29 December 2016

29/12/16

not appearing for me either
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