I was confused about the usage of beau/bel/belle and other similarly formed words. I thought I'd share my findings for others who were also a little perplexed by this:
masc. + consonant: beau, fou, mou, nouveau, vieux
masc. + vowel or h+vowel: bel, fol, mol, nouvel, vieil
fem. + consonant/vowel: belle, folle, molle, nouvelle, vieille
eg. un beau monsieur est un bel homme, dit la belle femme
Correct me if I'm mistaken! :)
To clarify, it's the sound at the beginning of the word that matters with the masculine nouns, not the letter. Homme obviously starts with a consonant, but because it's a vowel sound "beau homme" would be awkward to say, so bel is used.
Yes. The H muet is considered as a vowel sound and the H aspiré is considered as a consonant sound.