French The Order of Adjectives


What is the word order with French adjectives? In French, the main rule regarding the position of adjectives is that they usually come AFTER the noun, but as always in French, there are exceptions! For example, there is a small group of common adjectives whose meaning changes depending on whether they come before the noun or go after it.


As we learned in Module 10, most French adjectives are placed after the word being described in the sentence. However, there are several exceptions to this rule. These adjectives, understood by the acronym BANGS, are placed before the word being described (as one would do in English).

BANGSAdjective Examples Masc. / Fem.Example SentenceTranslation
Beautybeau/belle joli/jolieLa jolie fille s’appelle Ana.The pretty girl is named Ana.
Agenouveau/nouvelle vieux/vieille jeuneLa vieille voiture est rouge.The old car is red.
Numberun, deux, trois…. premier/première plusieursIl y a plusieurs problèmes au bureau.There are several problems in the office.
Goodnessbon/bonne mauvais/mauvaiseIl donne de l’argent aux pauvres – il est un bon homme.He gives money to the poor – he is a good man.
Sizegrand/grande petit/petite long/longueLe grand homme joue au basket.The tall man plays basketball.

BANGS adjectives before a vowel

There are some adjectives that change to either the masculine or feminine forms when it is placed before a word that begins with a vowel. In these instances, these adjectives have a unique spelling. Examples of these adjectives are beau, nouveau, and vieux.

                                    Un bel appartement    A beautiful apartment

                                    Un novel hôpital         A new hospital

                                    Un vieil homme           An old man

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.