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TNs, U38: Adjectives 3(Determiners, Indefinite Adjectives, Comp. & Superlatives, Bon/Bien/Mauvais)

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Determiners

You learned in "Basics 1" that almost all nouns must be preceded by an article. This isn't entirely accurate. Rather, almost all nouns must be preceded by a determiner, which is a word that puts a noun in context. As of this unit, you will have encountered every type of determiner.

  • Articles, as in le pantalon ("the pants").
  • Possessive adjectives, as in ton cochon ("your pig").
  • Demonstrative adjectives, as in cette personne (“this person”).
  • Cardinal numbers, as in deux chevaux ("two horses").
  • Interrogative adjectives, as in quel chat ? ("which cat?").
  • Exclamation adjectives, as in quelle chance ! ("what luck!").
  • Negative adjectives, as in aucune chance ("no chance!").
  • Indefinite adjectives, as in plusieurs jouets ("several toys").

There are very few exceptions to the rule that nouns must have a determiner. A few are verb-based. For instance: a few nouns expressing a status with être; names of languages with parler; and most nouns with devenir.

  • Il est bon élève. — He is a good student.
  • Elle est victime de son succès. — She is a victim of her own success.
  • Paul a été témoin à mon mariage. — Paul was a witness at my wedding.
  • Je parle anglais. — I speak English.
  • Il est devenu champion du monde. — He became a world champion.

Determiners are also omitted after some prepositions.

  • Je ne peux pas vivre sans eau. — I cannot live without water.
  • Nous le transportons par avion — We transport it by aircraft.
  • Je suis en vacances — I am on vacation.

Indefinite Adjectives

Indefinite adjectives like plusieurs, certains, quelques, and chaque reference nouns in a non-specific sense, akin to the way indefinite articles reference nouns.

  • L'enfant a plusieurs jouets. — The child has several toys.
  • Certains hommes sont mauvais.Some (or "certain") men are bad.
  • J'ai quelques livres. — I have a few (or "some") books.
  • L’automne est un deuxième printemps où chaque feuille est une fleur. (Albert Camus) — Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.

Comparatives and Superlatives

In "Adverbs 1", you learned that you can use plus as a comparative and le/la/les plus as a superlative.

  • C'est une plus jolie robe. — That's a prettier dress.
  • C'est la plus jolie robe. — That's the prettiest dress.

Bon ("good"), bien ("well"), and mauvais ("bad") also have comparative and superlative forms, but they're irregular, just like their English counterparts.

Bon

To say "better" when referring to a noun, you can't just say plus bon. Instead, use meilleur, which is a BANGS adjective with four inflections.

masc fem
singular meilleur meilleure
plural meilleurs meilleures
  • Elle cherche un meilleur emploi. — She is looking for a better job.
  • Je veux de meilleures robes. — I want better dresses. (Remember that des becomes de when immediately followed by an adjective.)

For the superlative, just add a definite article before the adjective that agrees with it.

  • Paul est le meilleur. — Paul is the best.
  • Ses filles sont les meilleures. — Her daughters are the best.

Bien

When "better" modifies an action, state of being or an adjective, you must use mieux.

  • Il parle mieux japonais. — He speaks better Japanese.
  • Ça va mieux. — It is going better.
  • L’hôtel est mieux situé. — The hotel is better located.

Add a definite article to create a superlative.

  • C'est Paul qui cuisine le mieux. — It's Paul who cooks the best.
  • Il les connaît le mieux. — He knows them the best.
  • Voici l’hôtel le mieux situé. — Here is the best located hotel.

Mauvais

Unlike bon and bien, comparative and superlative forms of mauvais can either be regular (with plus) or irregular (with pire).

  • C'est une plus mauvaise situation. — That's a worse situation.
  • Ça peut être pire. — That might be worse.
  • Ce sont les pires choix. — Those are the worst choices.

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