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Position of adjectives


Al Rogers

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I'm battling to improve my French ahead (as they say in newspapers) of moving to France and was surprised by the title of the book Le Club des Incorrigibles Optimistes. I would have expected "Incorrigibles" to follow "Optimistes". Thanks in advance to anyone who can shed some light on this.
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When you put an adjective in front of a noun, that would usually follow the noun, the effect is to emphasise the adjective. So the club is specifically for INCORRIGIBLE optimists. It's the incorrigibleness of them that's interesting, not their optimism.

It's a subtlety that you have to get used to really, by seeing it done. An "affreux événement" is somehow more shockingly awful than an "événement affreux".

IMHO.
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[quote user="EuroTrash"]When you put an adjective in front of a noun, that would usually follow the noun, the effect is to emphasise the adjective. So the club is specifically for INCORRIGIBLE optimists. It's the incorrigibleness of them that's interesting, not their optimism.

It's a subtlety that you have to get used to really, by seeing it done. An "affreux événement" is somehow more shockingly awful than an "événement affreux".

IMHO.[/quote]

Not only that, ET, there is also the fact that incorigibles is a long word.  Usually, the adjectives that are placed in front of nouns are short; bon, vieux, neuf, etc.  The "long" ones, with several syllables, intelligent, international, etc tend to be the ones put behind the nouns.

So, your explanation seems to be excellent.  The adjective here takes centre place[I]  Thank you, ET, and thank you Al for asking the question.

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This is quite a good article:

http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_4.htm

Placement after the noun

Most descriptive adjectives

are placed after the noun they modify. These normally have an

analytical meaning, in that they classify the noun into a certain

category. These types of adjectives include shape, color, taste, nationality, religion, social class, and other adjectives that describe things like personality and mood.

Placement before the noun

Certain adjectives are placed before the noun, some which you can memorize with the acronym "BAGS":

   Beauty

   Age

   Good and bad

   Size (except for grand with people - see 3, below)

These descriptors - and a few others - are considered inherent qualities of the noun:

   une jolie fille - pretty girl

   un jeune homme - young man

   une nouvelle maison - new house

   un bon enfant - good child

   un petit problème - small problem

   les sincères condoléances - sincere condolences

   les vagues promesses - vague promises

. Placement depends on meaning

Some

adjectives have both a figurative and an analytic (literal) sense and

can thus be placed on either side of the noun. When the adjective is

figurative, it goes before the noun, and when it's analytic, it goes

after the noun.

Figurative:  mes vertes années   my green (fruitful) years

Literal:  des légumes verts   green vegetables

Figurative:  un grand homme   a great man

Literal:  un homme grand   a tall man

Figurative:  un triste individu   a sad (mean or bad) person

Literal:  un individu triste   a sad (crying) person

Figurative:  mon ancienne école   my old (former) school

Literal:  mon école ancienne   my old (aged) school

Figurative:  un certain regard   a certain (type of) look

Literal:  une victoire certaine   a certain (assured) victory

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Yes, I remember particularly the grand homme one.

I used to say Charles de Gaulle est un grand homme qui est aussi un homme grand to make my French teacher smile.

I am mostly OK with adjectives but adverbs I do find a bit tricky sometimes:  to place before or after the verb?

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No most certainly Bargain Lil.......... although I use Lidl, quite like some of their products, but not all. What I am not is someone who likes shopping  at Aldi, even though they seem to have more choice, too much of their stuff has been disappointing for me.

AND Aldi won an award for mince pies a couple of years ago........ well, all I can say is that who so ever voted for them, had NOT tasted proper baking, they were absolutely awful.

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