You can go directly to the exercises if you are already familiar with the grammar.
After the noun.
A majority of the adjectives are placed after the noun.
Let us go through a couple of examples:
- Un sac (noun) jaune (adjective) – A yellow bag.
- C’était une soirée sympa – It was a nice evening.
- J’aime la musique relaxante – I like relaxing music.
You have probably noticed that the placement is quite the opposite of what we are used to in English.
However, there are always exceptions in French , and there are instances when we place the adjectives before the noun.
Before the noun – BANGS
So, what is Bangs? It is an abbreviation that can help you to remember the adjectives that are placed before the noun.
It is actually a good idea to remember BANGS and their different meanings.
It can definitely help you when you have a conversation in French or when you are doing an exam.
Let us go through every member of BANGS with some easy examples.
1. We will begin with B – Beauty.
- C’est une belle (adjective) robe (noun) – It is a beautiful dress.
- C’est un beau pays – It is a beautiful country.
As you can see, this allows us to translate the sentences in the same order as in English.
It is also worth mentioning that you can use other adjectives that relate to beauty (joli/jolie).
2. Let us continue with A that stands for Age.
- La vieille (adjective) voiture (noun) est tombée en panne – The old car broke down.
- Le jeune monsieur est parti – The young man has left.
3. Let us continue with N=Number.
- La troisième (adjective) robe (noun) que j’ai achetée – The third dress that I bought.
- C’est la première solution qu’on a choisie – It is the first solution that we choose.
4. Now it is time for G, which stands for Goodness.
We usually refer to ”bon” and ”gentil” when we talk about Goodness.
This group also include bad things (mauvais).
- Une bonne (adjective) soirée (noun) avec mes amis – A good evening with my friends.
- Un mauvais patron – A bad boss.
5. So, this leaves us with the S left, which stands for Size.
- Un petit (adjective) garçon (noun) – A small boy.
- C’est une grande piscine – It is a large pool.
Exceptions within Bangs
It should be noted that there are some exceptions within Brags. However, this should not stop you from learning this easy rule of thumb.
I have used Brags since I started learning French, and it has really helped me .
I will mention some of the exceptions later in this article.
You should not worry about them for now, as it will make it harder for you to understand the concept behind the exercises.
Many adjectives have a feminine and a masculine version. These adjectives are spelled differently, and sometimes (often) there’s also a difference in the pronunciation.
Grand(e): Big, tall
- Il est grand: He is tall
- Elle est grande: She is tall
- Il est petit: He is small
- Elle est petite: She is small
So, for these adjectives we only have to add an e to ceate the feminine form, très facile :-).
In addition, you only need to add an s in order to create the plural form. For instance:
- Ils sont petits: They are small
- Elle sont petites: They are small
Let’s look at other common adjectives where we only have to add an e:
- Il est fatigué: He is tired
- Elle est fatiguée: She is tired
- Il est méchant : He is mean
- Elle est méchante: She is mean
- Il est fort: He is strong
- Elle est forte: She is strong
Let’s look at another group of adjectives, where we have to remove x from the masculine form and add se to create the feminine form.
- Il est heureux : He is happy
- Elle est heureuse : She is happy
(I’ve just removed x and added se)
- Il est ennuyeux: He is boring
- Elle est ennuyeuse: She is boring
Ambitieux(se) : Ambitious
- Il est ambitieux: He is ambitious
- Elle est ambitieuse: She is ambitious
- Il est malheureux : He is unhappy
- Elle est malheureuse: She is unhappy
The masculine form does not change in the plural form. However, you need to add an s for the feminine plural form. For instance:
- Ils sont malheureux: They are unhappy.
- Elles sont malheureuses: They are unhappy.
Let’s look at another group, where we have to remove an f from the masculine form and add ve in order to create the feminine form.
- Il est émotif: He is emotional
- Elle est émotive: She is emotional
- Il est sportif : He is an athlete
- Elle est sportive: She is an athlete
- Il est créatif: He is creative
- Elle est créative : She is creative
You need to add an s to both the masculine- and feminine form in order to create the plural form. For instance:
- Il sont créatifs: They are creative
- Elles sont créatives: They are creative
2 French adjectives with specific rules
Let’s wrap up this chapter by looking at 2 irregular adjectives:
- Il est beau: He is beautiful
- Elle est belle: She is beautiful
- Ils sont beaux: They are beautiful
- Elles sont belles: They are beautiful
- Il est vieux: He is old
- Elle vieille: She is old
- Ils sont vieux: They are old
- Elles sont vieilles: They are old.
There is actually on more grammatical aspect to cover for these 2 adjectives. We’ll look at that in the chapter after the exercises :-).
Gender and number
Easy examples with different placements
C’est une belle (adjective) personne et il a un esprit brillant (adjective).
He is a beautiful (adjective) person and he has a brilliant (adjective) mind.
Are you able to see the difference in these two phrases?
- Brilliant is placed after the noun in French.
- Brilliant is placed before the noun in English.
Thus, we can conclude that brilliant is not included in Bangs. We can also conclude that belle (beautiful) is included in Bangs.
I think you are ready to identify the placement on your own now J.
Let’s look at some examples:
- C’est une personne gentille et elle a un beau sourire.
- She is a nice person and she has a beautiful smile.
Were you able to identify the difference?
- Personne gentille
- Nice person
It is a good idea to practice with different adjectives. Practice is somtimes more important than theory, especially when it comes to languages.
Thus, let’s look at another example :
- C’est une personne méchante. Je pense qu’il a eu enfance difficile.
- He is a mean person. I think he had a difficult childhood.
In this case, both adjectives are placed after the noun. We can therefore conclude that méchante and difficile are not included in Bangs.
Are you ready for the final example?
- Il a trouvé une jolie maison, et elle a trouvé un appartement confortable.
- He found a nice/beautiful house and she found a comfortable apartement.
Were you able to see the difference?
- Un appartement confortable
- A comfortable apartement
It is important to understand the basic concept of Bangs. It will help you to become more confident when speaking French.
In French, a distinction is made between what is masculine and feminine. We also add the plural form when necessary.
This mainly affects how you express yourself in writing. Sometimes you can also hear the difference in speech.
And sometimes, this sounds more difficult than it is. Let’s begin with some easy examples :
- In some cases, you add an “e” when something is in the feminine form.
- You often add an “s” to express that something is in the plural form.
Let’s put these rules into context:
- Il y a de belles femmes en France – There are beautiful women in France.
In this example, we added two ”s” to create the plural form.
Let’s see how the meaning changes if we want to say that: “there is a beautiful woman in France.”
- Il y a une belle femme en France- There is a beautiful woman in France.
As you can see, an “s” is deducted from “belle”, and an “s” is deducted from “femme”.
Unfortunately, there are several ways to describe what is feminine, masculine and plural, and we can’t simplify every rule.
This goes hand in hand with the placement of the adjectives. We, therefore, need to learn more ways to express this.
“Delicieux”, which in French means delicious, can be used to illustrate the difficulty in describing the masculine-, feminine-, masculine plural- and feminine plural form.
However, as always, we can use examples to make it more tangible .
Un gâteau délicieux (a delicious meal).
As you can see, the masculine singular version of “délicieux” ends with an “x”. We don’t need to add any additional letters for the masculine form.
Une baguette délicieuse (a delicious pizza).
In this case, the adjective changes to its feminine form, “délicieuse”. Why? Because baguette is a feminine noun in French.
Des gâteaux délicieux (delicious cakes).
In masculine plural, you don’t need to add anything – “délicieux” remains “délicieux”. However, ”gateau” changes to ”gâteaux” in the plural form.
Des pizzas délicieuses (delicious pizzas).
In the feminine plural form, we add an ”s” to pizza. We also add an ”s” to the plural form of ”délicieuse”.
I hope you have a better understanding of the different versions of the adjectives.
However, we still have some things left to cover. Let’s begin with the member of Bangs that we did not cover in the first part of this article.
This member is ”nouveau”, which translates to ”new”. It is placed before the noun, and it can take four different forms.
J’aime ton nouveau ami – I like your new friend.
Joseph a acheté une nouvelle voiture – Joseph bought a new car.
Il a balancé ses nouveaux vêtements il y a 3 jours – He thew out his new clothes 3 days ago.
Les nouvelles boites sont rouges – The new boots are red.
Sometimes a word ends with a vowel. In French, this can become a problem when the following word also begins with a vowel.
Why is this important, and how does it work?
This will change the adjective, and it represents one important exception within the French language.
Let’s look at some examples.
“Beau” becomes “bel”
- Il y a un bel ange dans le ciel – There is a beautiful angel in the sky.
“Nouveau” becomes “nouvel”
- As-tu acheté un nouvel ordinateur? – Did you buy a new computer?
“Vieux” becomes “vieil”
- C’est un vieil hélicoptère – It’s an old helicopter.
I understand if this is confusing. In fact, these examples may even make it more confusing.
I can, however, give you an easier example to make you understand why this is a logical solution.
- Try to say ” Un beau ange”.
- Now try to say ”Un bel ange”, it sounds better, doesn’t it?
You could therefore say that this construction is in place to make the language sound better.
I think that many French learners don’t understand why it’s logical because they only see these adjectives in grammatical terms.
A beginner will have a hard time identifying this rule when having a conversation. In addition, it will take time to implement the correct form in daily conversations.
The good thing is that you will eventually hear when it sounds wrong.
In this article, we have talked a lot about the placement of the noun and adjective.
We can conclude that it sometimes becomes confusing for a native English speaker.
Bangs is a simple tool that will help you remember the adjectives placed before the noun.
I have never really had a problem remembering the members of Bangs. Why? Because there are not that many members in this group. It is logical for me to put them before the noun.
The exceptions are, however, rarely logical. We had talked about these exceptions when we covered the vowels.
This article also talked about the plural form and the difference between the masculine and feminine forms. Again, this is something that you will get used to. It’s often difficult for a beginner to grasp the difference.
Do not become discouraged if you do not get it right the first time. Sometimes I had to study the same thing over and over again. Repetition is a super important key to learning grammar.
I grew up with Swedish as my mother tongue and English as my second language. However, these languages are quite similar, and I really had to change my perception of a language when I started studying French.