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I know vous is used for plural but also for being polite. I also know that the adjective should agree with the subject. So, if I'm saying to two or more people that they're sympathetic, then I would write:

Vous êtes sympathiques!

And then sympatiques is written with an extra s because I'm talking to more persons. But if I'm talking to one person, and use vous to be polite, is the sentence below correct?

Vous êtes sympathiques!

In this case, sympathiques agrees with the subject, but sympathiques is plural, and I'm talking to one person.

So, should I use sympathiques or sympathique when I'm talking to one person but use vous to be polite?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The agreement for adjectives is dependant on the real number:

  • to a single person:

    Vous êtes sympathique.

  • to several persons:

    Vous êtes sympathiques.

As an aside, verb inflexions are the same in both cases (plural vous, or singular formal vous).

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This answer is based on this one: french.stackexchange.com/questions/2374/…. I've just changed the focus to the part that address this particular question. –  Stéphane Gimenez Jul 30 '13 at 11:53
    
What if you are talking to a married or non single person? :) –  Shlublu Jul 30 '13 at 11:55
    
@Shlublu: I changed it to “persons”. With “sympathique” instead of “belle”, no reason to mention women. But I don't really understand what you mean. Are you implying that saying vous êtes sympathique to a married woman is inappropriate?? Anyway grammatically it makes no difference :-) –  Stéphane Gimenez Jul 30 '13 at 12:01
    
No, I'm absolutely not suggesting that. This was only a pun with "single person" actually. –  Shlublu Jul 30 '13 at 12:07
2  
@Shlublu: Ahah. Shame on me. This substitution was naughty, it created a pun without my knowing. –  Stéphane Gimenez Jul 30 '13 at 12:11

Should you be talking to one person, the verb agrees with vous as if it was a singular subject. This because this is actually a singular subject, despite the polite use of a plural person.

So the correct sentence is, in this case:

Vous êtes sympathique !

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J'accorde logiquement. Donc au singulier pour un vous de politesse ou un nous de modestie, au pluriel pour un on utilisé comme première personne du pluriel, au féminin pour un on ironique utilisé comme deuxième personne du singulier en m'adressant à une femme — On a du remord et on est venue demander pardon ? (en fait comme on peut avoir toutes les valeurs, tous les cas d'accord sont possibles).

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