Cecilee Linke

I can write you a story, teach you French, sing you a song.

Colors

Now for some basic color words in French!

You might even recognize a few of these colors:

Bleu

Rouge

Noir

Blanc

Gris

Vert

Rose

Violet

Marron

Jaune

 

Now we can use these color words as adjectives to describe things!

 

In English, when describing the colors of objects, the color goes before the noun that it modifies.

 

The black cat

The red horses

 

Same with any adjectives in English

 

The cute dog

The tall man

 

However, when describing the color of something in French, the color word goes after the noun it modifies.

 

Le chat noir

Le cheval blanc

Le chien jaune

 


Something else also changes when colors are expressed in French.

 

In French, nouns are divided into genders. This means that the article that goes before each noun changes depending on whether the noun is masculine or feminine. This concept of grammatical gender does not exist in English, though it did a VERY long time ago when our language was first evolving.

English has one definite article: the

 

The chair, the catthe bed

 

French, on the other hand, has two: le and la

 

Le  is used for masculine singular nouns.

 

Le chat

Le cheval

Le chien

Le mouton

 

La  is used for feminine singular nouns.

 

La chèvre

La poule

 

Because of this concept of grammatical gender for each nouns, this means that any adjectives that interact with these nouns change their endings depending on the gender of that noun.

 

Watch what happens to la chèvre when we add a color to describe it:

 

la chèvre blanche

 

See what happened to the end of the word blanc? Because we are describing something that is feminine and singular, we have to add an -he ending to the basic word for white.

Many colors simply add an -e ending when they are feminine and singular:

 

la vache verte (yes I know this doesn’t exist, but it’s just an example!)

la poule brune

 


When they are feminine and plural, it’s easy: just add -es to most colors:

 

les araignées vertes

les chèvres bleues

 

Masculine and plural gets a simple -s ending for most colors:

 

les oiseaux jaunes

les hamsters blancs

 

As for masculine singular, the colors don’t have a special ending:

 

le chat noir

le chien rouge (Clifford!)

 

If you want to say that a color is either light or dark, simply add clair for light and foncé for dark after the color. 

 

l’oiseau bleu foncé = the dark blue bird

le chat orange clair = the light blue cat

la vache marron clair = the light brown cow

le chien jaune foncé = the dark yellow dog

 

To help you see all of the endings for these colors, click here for a very helpful guide to color endings in French.

 

There have been several famous French songs with colors in the title and lyrics.

 

The famous French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman released an album entitled Entre gris clair et gris foncé (can you figure out what that title means based on what we’ve learned in this lesson?). Click here for the YouTube video where you can listen to the song.

A common expression in French involves the word for “pink”: voir la vie en rose. This means “to see life in pink,” literally, or we might say in English, “to see live through rose-colored glasses.” In other words, life looks great! There is a famous French song with this expression by none other than the legendary singer Edith Piaf, a song called La vie en rose. Click here to visit a YouTube video to listen to this song.

And last but not least, a more recent song uses the word noir, a mysterious sounding song by the singer Christophe Willem, called L’homme en noir (The man in black). Click here to listen to the song. 

Homework (les devoirs)

Click here to take a quiz on colors and agreements 

When you have learned these words, you can visit this site (hover over the word “site” for the link) to play a game for reviewing the colors!

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