French Lessons

Topics

Adjectives from Names and Verbs

Adjectives derived from verbs 

Cet astronaute expérimenté a passé des heures à observer la Terre.

This experienced astronaut spent hours observing Earth.

Caption 10, Le Journal: La Grande Muraille vue de l'espace?

If you have watched our video "The Great Wall Visible from Space?" you may have noticed that French astronaut Jean-François Clervoy is described as expérimenté (experienced). This adjective is formed by the past participle of the verb expérimenter (to experience). Adjectives derived from verbs are almost always placed after the noun, as we see here: astronaute expérimenté.

Native English speakers might be tempted to say that Jean-François is expériencé, but this word does not exist, nor does any such verb expériencer. Of course the noun expérience does mean "experience" and one could say, l'astronaute a de l'expérience, which would translate as "the astronaut is experienced." Note also that expérimenter can also mean "to experiment," as an English speaker might surmise.

Heading back into space, in Part 3 of our thriller La Conspiration d'Orion, we hear another type of verb-derived adjective:

La NASA a dû faire face à une avalanche de données et de preuves embarrassantes.

NASA had to face an avalanche of data and embarrassing evidence.

Caption 7, La Conspiration d'Orion: Conspiration 3/4 – Part 3

The verb embarrasser means "to embarrass," just as an English speaker might guess, and from its present participle is formed the adjective embarrassant (embarrassing). In this case we are modifying preuves ("evidence," or more literally, "proofs"), which is feminine (so we add an e) and which is also plural (so we add an s), giving us the feminine plural form: embarrassantes

As you continue to dive into authentic French with Yabla and other sources, keep your eyes open for more verb-derived adjectives. Verify that in most cases they are found after the noun they modify. You will want to keep this in mind when you set out to speak or write du français correct (correct French) yourself!

Adjectives derived from proper names

Have you had a look at the fascinating Le Journal piece about World War I we recently added, "Life in the Trenches"? Listening in, we hear:

Ces soldats ressemblent plus aux combattants du Premier Empire, des guerres napoléoniennes...

These soldiers are more like the fighters of the First French Empire, of the Napoleonic wars...

Captions 5-6, Le Journal: La vie dans les tranchées

The adjective napoléonien (Napoleonic) is derived from the proper noun Napoléon, the famous Emperor of early 19th-century France. Guerre (war) is a feminine noun, so we must use the feminine version, napoléonienne, and guerres (wars) is plural, so it requires the feminine plural form, napoléoniennes. As is typical with adjectives derived from proper nouns, and like most adjectives, it is placed after the noun being modified.

Other examples are la théorie cartésienne (Cartesian theory) or la France chiraquienne (the France of Chirac/Chirac's France). Adjectives derived from proper names of places, such as regions, cities, and countries, behave similarly, as we already discussed in our lesson Adjectives of Color, Shape, and Origin.

Grammar

You May Also Like