Very interesting. Because "mauvais" would seem to be the poster child for the whole Good/Bad BAGS rule, wouldn't it? It seems that it is an adjective that can play both ways. When an adjective has a figurative or judgmental meaning, it is placed before the noun it modifies. When it has an objective or analytical meaning, it is placed after the noun it modifies. So by placing it after the noun (homme mauvais), it's like saying "this guy really is a BAD man (by some objective standard)," it's not just my opinion of him. So the fact is that you could say it either way, "C'est un homme mauvais" or "C'est un mauvais homme". http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_4.htm Incidentally, "c'est" is used (not "il est") because être is followed by a modified noun.
Just curious: is the word mauvais has any link to the colour mauve by any chance?
And to quote you, "When an adjective has a figurative or judgmental meaning, it is placed before the noun it modifies. When it has an objective or analytical meaning, it is placed after the noun it modifies.", can you give 2 separate examples of those?
First, I doubt that "mauve" has anything to do with "mauvais". Second, as you learn more about French (and English), you will find there are layers of meaning which will become known to you. Here are two examples of how adjective position affects meaning taken from the link above. Take a look there to see more:
- 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