Première Partie: L’Identité / les questions personnelles; Explication de grammaire supplémentaire

La Grammaire

In this section:

  • definite articles
  • plus d’adjectifs – BANGS 
  • des comparaisons

Definite articles

Image of different body parts
Illustration via Open Clip Art

The definite article (le, la, l’, les) is often used with parts of the body instead of a possessive determiner (monmames, etc.). Sentences with this structure always use the verb avoir to indicate that the possessor is the subject of the sentence. The following French sentences are equivalent.

tammy olympia

Tex rêve: Ah, Tammy! Tu as les yeux brûlants, la bouche pulpeuse, les cheveux si doux … Tex is dreaming: Ah Tammy! You have fiery eyes, full lips, such soft hair …
Tex rêve: Ah Tammy! Ton regard est brûlant, ta bouche pulpeuse, tes cheveux si doux … Tex is dreaming: Ah Tammy! Your eyes are fiery, your lips full, your hair so soft …

However, an indefinite article is used if an adjective comes before the part of the body:

Tex continue: Tammy, tu as un petit nez pointu et de grandes oreilles décollées … Tex continues: Tammy, you have a little pointed nose and big ears which stick out …

The definite article is also always used when pronominal verbs refer to parts of the body.

plus d’adjectifs – BANGS 

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Photo via Pexels

The placement of most adjectives in French is after the noun: un escargot parlant, une fourmi travailleuse, des tatous intelligents, etc. There is a small group of adjectives, however, that normally precede the noun. These adjectives may be categorized as adjectives of Beauty, Age, Numbers Goodness, and Size (BANGS).

autre, other beau (belle), beautiful bon (bonne), good
grand (grande), tall, big gros (grosse), big, fat jeune, young
joli (jolie), pretty mauvais (mauvaise), bad nouveau (nouvelle), new
petit (petite), little vieux (vieille), old
ordinal numbers:
premier (première), first deuxième, second troisième, third, etc.

tammy is beautiful
Tammy est une belle Américaine. C’est aussi une bonne amie. C’est une petite tatou. Tammy is a beautiful American woman. She is also a good friend. Tammy is a little armadillo.
Trey est le jeune frère de Tex. C’est le troisième enfant de la famille. Trey is Tex’s young brother. He is the third child in the family.

beau, nouveau, vieux
Beaunouveau, and vieux have irregular forms. Note the special forms in the masculine singular when they precede a word that begins with a vowel or a silent h.

before vowel
beau bel belle beaux belles
nouveau nouvel nouvelle nouveaux nouvelles
vieux vieil vieille vieux vieilles

The adjectives which precede the noun must agree in number and gender with the noun they modify (see the regular rule for adjective formation). Be aware that changing the position of some adjectives may change their meaning. Listen to this dialogue:

Tex et Tammy regardent le nouvel album de famille de Rita. Tex and Tammy are looking at Rita’s new family album.
Tammy: Qui est cette belle femme? Tammy: Who is that beautiful woman?
Rita: C’est notre mère. Rita: That’s our mother.
Tammy: Et qui sont ces autres personnes? Tammy: And who are these other people?
Rita: Le vieil homme, c’est Paw-Paw Louis. Et puis, à côté, c’est moi. Rita: The old man, that’s Paw-Paw Louis. And then, next to him, that’s me.
Tex: Et ce petit bébé, qui est-ce? Comme il est laid! Tex: And the little baby, who is it? Boy is he ugly!
Rita: C’est toi, Tex. C’est la première photo de toi. Rita: That’s you, Tex. It’s the first picture of you.

it's you, tex

des comparaisons

Shapes on a scale
Illustration via Pixabay

comparative adjectives indicating more or less

Adjectives are frequently used to compare things, people, events, ideas etc. Plusque conveys the idea of ‘more … than’, moinsque the idea of ‘less than.’

Tex est plus intelligent que Joe-Bob. Tex is more intelligent than Joe-Bob.
Mais Joe-Bob est moins prétentieux que Tex. But Joe-Bob is less pretentious than Tex.
Bien sûr, il est plus difficile d’être poète que d’être écureuil! Of course, it is more difficult to be a poet than to be a squirrel.

comparative adjectives indicating similarity or equality

Aussique conveys the idea of ‘as … as’.

Fiona est aussi belle que Tammy. Mais elles ne sont pas aussi séduisantes que Bette. Fiona is as beautiful as Tammy. But they are not as seductive as Bette.

irregular adjectives

The adjectives bon and mauvais have irregular forms of comparison, meilleur and pire. However, the regular form plus mauvais que has become commonly accepted. Note that this irregularity is found in English too with ‘better’ (not *gooder) and ‘worse’ (not *badder).

D’après Tex, Tammy est un bon parti. Mais Bette pense qu’elle serait un meilleur parti que Tammy. According to Tex, Tammy is a good match. But Bette thinks she would be a better match than Tammy.
Mais il est évident que le caractère de Bette est plus mauvais que celui de Tammy. But it is obvious that Bette’s personality is worse than Tammy’s.

Listen to this dialogue:

Bette: Tex, as-tu jamais vu une fille aussi jolie que moi? Bette: Tex, have you ever seen a girl as pretty as I am?
Tex philosophe: Euh! La beauté physique est moins importante que la beauté de l’âme. Voyons Bette, je n’ai pas le temps de penser à des choses aussi triviales que celles-ci … Tex the philosopher: Ah! Physical beauty is less important than the beauty of the soul. Look Bette, I do not have time to think about things as trivial as that …
Bette: D’accord, d’accord, mais je suis moins bête et plus sexy que Tammy, non? Bette: Ok, ok, but I am less stupid and more sexy than Tammy, don’t you think?
Tex: Être ou ne pas être, là est la question … Tex: To be or not to be, that is the question …



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Français inclusif: An Interactive Textbook for French 101 by Department of World Languages, Boise State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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