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  5. "Fille belle" or "Jolie Fille"


"Fille belle" or "Jolie Fille"

Why is "belle" after the noun but "jolie" before? I lost a heart when I put "jolie" after "fille".

October 2, 2012


  • 1559

The placement of adjectives depends on the type of adjectives, or the sentence's meaning:

Adjectives after the noun: adjectives for classification, distinction, description (nationality, colour, taste, appearance, style), adjectives with a complement (e.g. 'un livre difficile à lire' for 'a book that is hard to read'), adjectives giving a notion of time (e.g. 'l'année dernière' for 'last year'), adjectives with more than three syllables (e.g. 'un enfant extraordinaire' for 'an extraordinary child', past participles used as adjectives (e.g. 'un arbre mort' for 'a dead tree'), adjectives qualified with an adverb with multiple syllables (e.g. 'une voiture vraiment belle' for 'a really beautiful car').

Adjectives before the noun: short adjectives and frequently used (e.g. 'une jolie fille' for 'a pretty girl'), affective and appreciation adjectives (e.g. 'un beau garçon' for 'a handsome boy'), numerical adjectives ('le dernier étage' for 'the last floor'), adjectives that are part of a nominal group (e.g. 'un jeune homme' for 'a young man'), adjectives referring to a proper name (e.g. 'la grande tour Eiffel' for 'the big Eiffel tower').

Some adjectives are placed either after or before the noun, modifying the meaning of the sentence:

Examples: "propre": Ma propre robe = my personal dress / Ma robe propre = my clean "grand": Un grand homme = a man who achieved great things in his life / Un homme grand = a tall man

Be cautious with the meaning of the sentence with the following adjectives: "bon" (= good), "nouveau/nouvelle" (= new), "même" (= same), "brave" (= brave/decent), "prochain/prochaine" (= next), "pauvre" (= poor), "sale" (= dirty), "seul/seule" (= alone),"ancien" (= ancient), "vieux/vieille" (= old), ...


That was also my problem! So, thanks for all of the explanations, especially for "BANGS"! :-D I hope, I´ll remember it the next time ! ;-)


I would never say "fille belle". It feels way more natural to say "belle fille"


Actually, 'une belle fille' is as correct as 'une fille belle'. It very much depends on the context and whether these words are inserted in a full sentence, like : "une belle fille est passée devant moi" or "une fille belle à tomber par terre". The trouble may be that a "belle-fille" is a stepdaughter so there might be confusions in conversations. However, I am not quite sure there is a rule for that, because you may find : "une fille moche" (ugly), "une fille laide" - but not with the adjective switched with the noun.

  • 1559

@Sitesurf: in your example, "une fille belle à tomber par terre", this case is in the following category: Adjectives after the noun => adjectives with a complement (e.g. 'un livre difficile à lire' for 'a book that is hard to read'). In your example, the adjective "belle" has for complement "à tomber par terre". In your examples "une fille moche/laide", these cases are in the following category: Adjectives after the noun => adjectives for description (taste, appearance).


I was told a mnemonic for determining when an adjective goes before the noun. It is "BAGS: beauty, age, goodness, size". Generally speaking, adjectives relating to these features go before the noun. and all others go after, though there are exceptions.

  • 1559

You are right, and you can also add the adjectives of numbers in this list:

  • BANGS: Beauty - Age - Numbers - Good/bad - Size
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