Placement of Adjectives

Unlike in the English language, in French, most adjectives come after the noun. Major exceptions like "beau", "jeune", "bon" and "petit" are often taught as the "BAGS" adjectives because they fit into the following categories: Beauty, Age, Goodness, Size. Words like this go before the noun they describe. Example: "Un chat noir" (a black cat) BUT "Un petit chat" (a small cat) has more information and exceptions to this rule

May 1, 2012


Similar to BRAGS, I've heard BANGS (Beauty, Age, Numbers, Goodness, Size).

August 2, 2012

To be more extensive, should it be BRANGS?

December 31, 2013

I think "R" for rank could be included under "N" for numbers. :)

February 15, 2015

Rank can also apply to things like "senior manager", etc.

October 6, 2018

This is what Duolingo teaches in the lessons.

September 12, 2013

Yee! Me too!

May 29, 2013

This is the one I've heard as well.

January 15, 2013

You can also put these words after the noun, but only if you want to sound like a poet.

May 4, 2012

So I'm a poet if I say "une femme petite"?

February 17, 2013

                                                                      will do

May 6, 2013

No, it just sounds like poet speech, but we're not poets, we're Duolingo (And possibly Memrise) learners, it's "une petite femme"

September 24, 2018

A poet...or Yoda ;-)

February 1, 2019

[deactivated user]

    True, in protuguese and spanish is the same.

    January 26, 2013

    Lets just combine it all:

    Beauty Rank Age Number, Goodness, Size!


    May 29, 2013

    I like BANGS and will consider "rank" as a "number". Still makes sense to me.

    June 3, 2013

    Rank is not only number - consider "the senior manager", for example.

    October 6, 2018

    LOL! I like what you "BRANGS" to the discussion!

    February 13, 2014

    What about "grande", as in, "C'est une femme grande"? Wouldn't that fall under the size category?

    June 3, 2012

    le son doux de ta voix, c'est grammaticalement correct, mais pour la beauté de la langue on dit: le DOUX son de ta voix! ça y est!

    December 26, 2012

    BAGS should actually be BRAGS. When describing rank (such as using the word "premier") you also put it before the noun. Thus it's Beauty, Rank, Age, Goodness, and Size.

    May 4, 2012

    Or BANGS which would include numbers

    December 20, 2014

      Numbers also come before the noun. And if you want to get really detailed, when adjectives have a literal and a figurative meaning, the figurative meanings appear before the noun.

      September 5, 2013

      And so now we have BRANGS! Anything else?

      May 27, 2015

      One of my favorite examples: Le grand requin blanc :)

      May 29, 2013

      Very helpful. Shows the figurative (before) and the literal (after).

      December 10, 2013

      How is "grand" figurative here? I think it is literally a "big white whale." I would have thought that "grand" preceded the noun not because it was figurative, but because it was describing size.

      May 31, 2014

      "Grand" is figurative in this case, because it means "great", this sentence translates to "The great white shark". If it were describing size it would come after the noun. This link is very helpful to understand about adjectives with figurative meanings:

      July 26, 2014

      That resource doesn't tell the whole story about "grand(e)".

      In describing a person, grand is "great" when it comes before the noun, and "tall" after, but otherwise, it means "large" or "tall" when it comes before the noun. So "grand requin blanc" can indeed be interpreted as just "large white shark".

      The issue with the English "great white shark" is that "great" is not (necessarily or technically) expressing a figurative or subjective judgement in this particular expression. As with many animal and place names, it can actually be considered to be describing simply the relative size of the entity compared to others of its kind, and not necessarily its perceived magnificence. "Great", "greater", "lesser", "least", etc. are often used this way. Some animal examples:


      • Great cormorant
      • Great egret
      • Great horned owl
      • Great kiskadee
      • Great skua
      • Great white pelican


      • Greater adjutant stork
      • Greater blue-eared starling
      • Greater flamingo
      • Greater kudu
      • Greater rhea
      • Greater roadrunner
      • Greater sage grouse


      • Lesser double-collared sunbird
      • Lesser flamingo
      • Lesser masked weaver
      • Lesser mouse lemur


      • Least chipmunk

      (An interesting question to consider is which meaning of "grand(e)" is its "usual" meaning, "magnificent" or "large"?)

      Two weevils crept from the crumbs. 'You see those weevils, Stephen?' said Jack solemnly.

      'I do.'

      'Which would you choose?'

      'There is not a scrap of difference. Arcades ambo. They are the same species of curculio, and there is nothing to choose between them.'

      'But suppose you had to choose?'

      'Then I should choose the right-hand weevil; it has a perceptible advantage in both length and breadth.'

      'There I have you,' cried Jack. 'You are bit – you are completely dished. Don't you know that in the Navy you must always choose the lesser of two weevils? Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!'

      ― Patrick O'Brian

      June 16, 2019

      Merci beaucoup

      September 12, 2013

      Some adjectives change their meaning with the position. Une femme grande. – She is a tall woman. Une grande femme. – She is a great personality.

      Should be sorted under "special category".

      June 7, 2012

      That's an example of figurative versus literal meaning.

      October 6, 2018

      "C'est une femme grande" and "C'est une grande femme" mean two different things. First case: "She is a big woman", the second "she is a great woman". Also "propre" and "certain" have a different meaning when put before or after the noun.

      June 11, 2012

      Also "pauvre" - "the poor child" meaning "the child who is to be pitied" is "le pauvre enfant" while "the poor child" meaning "the child who has no money" is "l'enfant pauvre", if I remember correctly.

      March 7, 2016

      There needs to be something like this comment at the beginning of each category!

      August 28, 2012

      Est-ce qu'il y a une acronyme française pour cette règle?

      September 12, 2013

      It's important to notice that before these adjectives in the plural form the partitive article "des" becomes "de": ex. "j'ai de nouveaux amis", "il y avait de gros problèmes".

      Moreover, as my French teacher explained me, one can put an adjective who counts more than two syllables before a noun to put more emphasis to the sentence: ex. "nous avons visité un magnifique musée!"

      January 5, 2014

      Thanks for sharing! So if it's not plural but still bangs, would it stay as either du or de la? (e.g. La girafe a "du" long cou)? Or would it be de instead, or even just un?

      Thanks in advance

      June 26, 2016

      You can play with the place of adjectives in French, when the adjective can be placed either before or after the noun (as it is the case with some adjective), you can change the meaning or emphatize something by moving the adjective. Ex: une jolie fille (a pretty girl), is not exactly the same than une fille jolie. The second turn of phrase is less common, but emphatize more on "jolie" than the first one.

      March 31, 2014

      i agree

      January 17, 2015

      Don't forget temperature: "il est une chaude journée", so I guess it is TBAGS!

      June 20, 2016

      TBRANGS sounds like a kind of dinosaur.

      November 28, 2017

      Reefy, they do that very well in German as well. I wonder why they haven't got to working on the French tips yet?

      October 4, 2012

      Thank you for the BAGS hint!

      September 28, 2013

      useful, thanks myra

      November 11, 2013


      November 21, 2013

      Thanks for that

      January 26, 2014

      Thanks these really help!

      May 13, 2015


      March 9, 2016

      Thanks. This has helped me to understand better.

      June 10, 2016

      [deactivated user]

        Nice to know... this was frustrating the !?&@! out of me! Thx...

        January 19, 2017

        Thanks! I’ve been struggling with French adjectives for a while, this really helped!

        November 25, 2017

        Please note that I edited this post from the original to clarify precisely what I am asking.

        I have a puzzle...

        If I encounter an adjective that falls in one of the BRANGS+T groups, and that word has both a figurative and literal meaning, how can I be sure that I properly understand the meaning?

        For example, if I encounter "J'ai une grande cuisine", how do I know that the writer was talking about size, and not how awesome the kitchen is?

        Or the opposite? If the writer intended to imply that the kitchen is totally awesome by using the word "grande"?

        This alternative interpretation of the meaning of "grande" is implied in the earlier conversation. If it isn't applicable, please simply say so and then answer the real question.

        To be perfectly clear, don't give me examples of ways in which the phrasing could be modified to clarify - I just want to know how any reader can be certain about the author's intention when the adjective used is in this situation.

        October 6, 2018

        Merci, I was a bit confused by this as Duolingo isn't expressly clear on some grammatical rules.

        November 15, 2018
        Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.