French Word of the Day

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011



La campagne irlandaise est toute verte.
The Irish countryside is all green.

If you’re new to French, you might wonder why adjectives must sometimes change their spellings to add an e, an s, or both. It is because, in French, all nouns have a gender and number. They are either masculine or feminine, and either singular or plural. The adjectives that describe them must, in turn, agree with the nouns. In general, adjectives add an e to become feminine and an s to become plural — although there are notable exceptions that you will learn along the way. Using today’s word, you can see the many forms:

  • le stylo vert (the green pen) – masculine singular
  • les stylos verts (the green pens) – masculine plural
  • la maison verte (the green house) – feminine singular
  • les maisons vertes (the green houses) – feminine plural

Did you happen to notice in today’s example sentence above that the adverb toute is feminine to agree with the adjective that follows it? Why is this remarkable? Tout as an adverb is usually invariable,  meaning that it does not change gender or number. (Don’t confuse this with tout as an adjective, which must always be made to agree.) But there is an exception! When tout precedes a feminine adjective beginning with a consonant or aspirate h, it must then be made to agree with adjective it’s modifying.

Our word is from a topic that’s perfect for beginning French students — colors, or les couleurs
. If you’ll be studying French for the first time next school year or if you just need a refresher, these French words for colors are for you.

See if you remember how to say green in French and more with our Colors Quiz.

Vocabulary Section: Adjectives, Colors, Word of the Day