In general in the French language adjectives go after nouns, for example:
- La maison noire (= The black house)
- Le restaurant anglais (= The English restaurant)
As you will see this is unlike English, where the adjective normally goes before the noun.
However there are some situations when French adjectives go before nouns. This page looks at those situations.
Which adjectives go before nouns in French?
The following are some of the adjectives you will commonly come across that normally go before the noun:
- Beau(x)*/Belle(s) = Beautiful
- Bon(s)/Bonne(s) = Good
- Jeune(s) = Young
- Long(ue)(s) = Long
- Mauvais(e)(s) = Bad
- Meilleur(e)(s) = Better (or best)
- Nouveau(x)**/Nouvelle(s) = New
- Petit(e)(s) = Small
- Vieux***/Vieille(s) = Old
* ‘Bel’ is the singular masculine version if followed by a noun beginning with a vowel or h.
** ‘Nouvel’ is the singular masculine version if followed by a noun beginning with a vowel or h.
*** ‘Vieil’ is the singular masculine version if followed by a noun beginning with a vowel or h.
Other French Adjectives that go before nouns
Numbers go before the noun
‘Un/Une, deux, trois, etc.’ go before the noun.
Ordinal numbers (e.g. first, second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. i.e. premier(s)/première(s), deuxième(s), troisième(s), quatrième(s), cinquième(s), etc.) go before the noun.
The words ‘Next’ and ‘last’
‘Prochain(e)(s)’ (next) and ‘Dernier(s)/Dernière(s)’ (last) come before the noun unless not referring to a time. Examples of this are:
- L’année dernière = Last year
- Le dernière rue = The last road*
* Here in the second example ‘dernière’ is acting like an ordinal number, so it goes before the noun.
Adjectives which change meaning depending on whether placed before or after the noun
Some adjectives have a different meaning depending on whether placed before or after the noun. The most important ones are as follows:
|Meaning Before the noun||Meaning After the noun|
|propre(s)||own (e.g. my ‘own’ car)||clean|
I hope that the above has helped you to understand the main situations where French adjectives go before the noun.