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How to Form Irregular French Adjectives

Some French adjectives have irregular feminine singular endings. To form the feminine singular form, some masculine singular adjectives require a little more than just adding -e. Here, the irregular feminine adjectives are in nine categories based on verb ending so they’re easier for you to spot.

  • Ending in vowel + consonant: For adjectives that end in a vowel + consonant, you form the FS adjective by doubling that consonant before adding the -e of the feminine singular. Some examples include ancien (old/former) to ancienne, exceptionnel (exceptional) to exceptionnelle, and net (clear) to nette.

    This rule has exceptions, and not all adjectives ending in vowel + consonant double that consonant before the -e of the feminine. Here are a few examples: féminin (feminine) to feminine, fin (fine) to fine, normal (normal) to normale, brun (dark-haired) to brune, and gris (gray) to grise.

  • Ending in -eur or -eux: For adjectives that end in -eur or -eux, replace the masculine singular ending with -euse to form the feminine singular. Some examples include fumeur (smoking) to fumeuse and luxueux (luxurious) to luxueuse.

    This rule also has exceptions, and not all adjectives in -eur turn to -euse in the feminine. For some, just add -e to the masculine -eur form: inférieur (inferior) becomes inférieure, supérieur (superior) becomes supérieure, intérieur (interior) becomes intérieure, and meilleur (better) changes to meilleure.

  • Ending in -teur: For adjectives that end in -teur, replace -teur with -trice to form the feminine singular, like protecteur (protective) to protectrice, conservateur (conservative) to conservatrice, and indicateur (indicative) to indicatrice.

  • Ending in -er: For adjectives that end in -er, replace -er with -ère to form the feminine singular, like dernier (last) to dernière, premier (first) to première, and cher (expensive) to chère.

  • Ending in -et: For adjectives that end in -et, replace -et with -ète to form the feminine singular, like discret/discrète (discreet), complet/complète (complete), and secret/secrète (secret).

  • Ending in -f: For adjectives that end in -f, replace -f with -ve to form the feminine singular, like neuf to neuve (new), naïf to naïve (naive), négatif to négative (negative), and sportif to sportive (athletic).

  • Ending in -on or -ien: For adjectives that end in -on or -ien, double the -n before adding the -e to form the feminine singular, like mignon to mignonne (cute).

    Many adjectives of nationality and regionality are in this category, like canadien/canadienne (Canadian), parisien/parisienne (Parisian), and italien/italienne (Italian). However, adjectives of nationality that end in -ain, like américain/américaine (American), mexicain/mexicaine (Mexican), and marocain/marocaine (Moroccan) don’t double the -n. (Note that English capitalizes adjectives refering to nationalities and religions, but French doesn’t.)

  • Some adjectives have a completely irregular form that doesn’t follow any pattern.

Common Adjectives That Change Completely in Feminine Singular
Masculine Singular Feminine Singular English Translation
beau belle handsome, beautiful
blanc blanche white
bref brève brief
doux douce soft
faux fausse untrue
favori favorite favorite
fou folle crazy
frais fraîche fresh
franc franche honest
grec grecque greek
long longue long
mou molle soft
nouveau nouvelle new
public publique public
rigolo rigolote funny
roux rousse red haired
sec sèche dry
vieux vieille old
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