Color adjectives are tricky.
"Noir" or "blanc" are easy, they agree with the noun.
But a number of color qualifiers refer to fruits, like "marron " (chestnut) or "orange", and never agree with the noun they qualify.
Others do not agree either, like composed qualifiers, like "bleu-vert", "bleu marine", "vert d'eau", etc.
That's what I sometimes think with the English language, which I've been learning for centuries now. It's a question of point of view. English is "easy" at the beginning: conjugation, agreements, etc. are all quite straightforward. But then come phrasal verbs for instance, you know, those get/set/take/give... + up/on/off/in/unto/into/onto, etc. Horrible to learn! :-) But hey, agreements (among other things) are also a nightmare for many native French speakers; if you tested 100 persons on this, I'm sure that more than 50% would fail. So many exceptions to rules in French... ... probably because it's an exceptional language! ;-)
It's like French was designed (or at one point modified) with the intention of making it as difficult to learn as possible. I can imagine the meetings about this topic: it's an outrage that every Tom Dick and Harry can learn French, just like that. So how about we make it a bit more difficult? You know how colour adjectives agree with the noun, right? ... let's just take a bunch, and make them not to. Wouldn't it be cool?
Hi Sitesurf. Nowadays in the UK we spell 'chestnut' as 'chestnut'. Chesnut is an archaeic form; I looked it up. It didn't say it was a US spelling. Perhaps it is, or perhaps it is a typo?
I tried to reply under your related post in this thread but DL wouldn't let me do so.
I suppose that it's not much easier to learn English either. A lot of native speakers like me could take it for granted but we have virtually no rules in our past participles.
Like 'I make' would be 'I made' in the past but 'I bake' would be 'I baked'
and there are a lot of other examples like that, of which I cannot think of off the top of my head. I think language learning is hard in general and every language has as many exceptions that are stupidly outrageous to the rules it enforces much better than other languages (very few exceptions with French past participles)
I worked with a brilliant and charming French man (I am American, and I fancy myself pretty skilled with my native tongue) who liked to share French language trivia with me. (One lesson he taught me was exactly this one about number agreement with color adjectives.) He said that in contrast to the English assertion "There is an exception to every rule," the French say, "There are seven exceptions to every rule. Including this one."
Souliers! That's the term that has been tickling my brain. in school and university, I studied Parisian French, and learned that les souliers sont bruns ou noirs. And Sitesurf, you say that des souliers is not a proper French term??
À l'école scondaire, I learned about la famille Bertillon, a family that moved to a suburb of Paris, if I remember properly.
"Un/des soulier/s" sounds a bit obsolete nowadays in France where everybody uses "une/des chaussure/s". Some use "un soulier" to refer to a specific type of men shoes, but it is rare.
"Brun(e)(s)" is mostly used for hair and skin, not to describe other brown things.
Therefore, in France's French, "brown shoes" are "des chaussures marron".
In Canada we almost ALWAYS use BRUN, unless it is a very specific colour of brown. My natural hair colour for instance, is called chestnut in English but in French here chestnut is CHATAIN (with an accent circonflexe on the a, I am at a public library computer, sorry). Nobody here says marron, nobody :)
My understanding (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that "the man has brown shoes" only describes that the man is not barefoot and his footwear is brown.
If an English person said "the man has some brown shoes", I would decipher from the addition of "some" that there is a specific purpose for it, as in "the man has brown shoes of some sort" (slightly pejorative) or "the man has some brown shoes" (rather laudatory) or "the man (shopkeeper) has a range of brown shoes for sale".
This is why I usually don't recommend to translate "des" to "some" before a plural noun.
Well Sitesurf, you are the grammarian of us two and I always learn from you. However. whilst you are not wrong there's such a thing as "not quite right." In England we would use "The man has brown shoes ON" to stratify your first interpretation but it would more usually relate that he either has a pair or more than the one pair and also the shopkeeper has either one pair or many pairs. In the case of the shopkeeper having brown shoes we would probably say that the shop has them. Your second interpretation is, for me, perfect. I'm fairly convinced that what I've posted here is relevant to all parts of England (but discounting local dialects). Lastly, much depends upon the tone of voice used when saying either. It can refer to the unfortunate man, whatever the actual colour of his shoes, he has just trodden in something a doggy left on the pavement (that being too specific for this course.) Or it can mean something rude and I'm not posting that here.
Hi Sabrina. As dear Sitesurf says (and Sitesurf really really knows) 85% of adjectives follow the noun. There is a guide to which precede the noun and it's called B.A.N.G.S. B=beauty/ugliness. A=Age/time. N=number. G=goodliness/badness and S=Size. Nowthen, beware....there are always exceptions, so BANGS is only a guide.
Horse snobs might have a problem with saying there's a brown horse, but it's absolutely fine, grammatically.
The horse issue with "brown" is not that chestnut means brown, it's that there are multiple "colorings" of horses that you could say are brown. Chestnuts also have brown manes/tails, whereas bays have black manes/tails, and there are others.
You may be thinking that "des" must be translated as "some". It's not so. It only represents the plural "un/une". This "des" is required in French, but the "some" is virtually always omitted in English. Remember, too, that there is another word "some" in English that means "a few". If that is what you mean, then you might use "certain(e)(s)" or "quelque(s)" http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais-anglais/quelque/664448 I.e.,
- Il a une chaussure marron = he has a brown shoe
- Il a la chaussure marron = he has the brown shoe
- Il a des chaussures marron = he has brown shoes
- Il a quelques chaussures marron = he has some brown shoes
Yes, there are and a few are explained on this page.
Color adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun they modify, unless they are derived from nouns referring to things. "Marron" is derived from "un marron" (chestnut) and remains invariable (no feminine, no plural). The same applies to "orange" derived from the fruit "une orange".