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Consider the following sentence fragment:

les pronoms personnels sujets

I'm a beginning French student. So, my question is probably going to sound very simple to you. It's actually about super basic-level French grammar.

I'm trying to parse that phrase grammatically and here's what I've got: The first word is the definite article for plural nouns—les. Then, we have the actual noun—pronom—which is in the plural. Then comes the adjective which describes the noun. Thus far what the whole thing says is the personal pronouns. Fine. But what I don't understand is how sujets fits in with the rest of the picture grammatically. Is it a noun or adjective? Could you please give me some real basic French grammar lesson with regard to my question?

Could you please give me some kind of rule or pattern that I could follow to form phrases that involve the usage of two or more nouns? I think they're called compound nouns in English. Case in point, "personal subject pronouns" is such a phrase. We've got an adjective that describes "subject pronouns" which in turn is nothing more than two nouns strung together to form a new, more complex idea.

  • Can you give an example in french ? IT's a bit hard to know what you're asking, feels like XY problem... why do you want to know such a rule ? – Nikana Reklawyks May 25 '15 at 2:55
  • Alright, forget it. I'm actually not so sure myself about what I'm trying to ask. On the other hand, what I probably want is a grammar article reference where I could read up on the thing that I had trouble with in my question up above. – user69786 May 25 '15 at 4:50
  • This is not a sentence but only a subject, which is called in some French grammar « groupe nominal sujet » (a group, because there are several words in the subject, « nominal » because it's built upon a noun, pronoms). – Dereckson May 25 '15 at 11:26
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Sujets is a noun used as an adjective (in French), that designates the function of said pronoms personnels : they're the subjects of sentences. There are other forms for personnal pronouns when they are not subjects (e.g. "me" for "je" when it is a complement).

So basically, "les pronoms personnels sujets" means "the personnal pronouns that are subjects".

  • The concept of noun adjunct as described on the linked page isn't in use in French. The two first links should link to descriptions of French grammar. – Stéphane Gimenez May 26 '15 at 9:44
  • I didn't want to link to french pages, and didn't search enough to find english pages about French grammar. I think you're right about the noun adjunct thing, I changed it for a better link. – Nikana Reklawyks May 26 '15 at 15:15
  • The most common example of this structure would be colour adjuncts "la mer vert clair" where clair is an adjective qualifying the noun vert, "vert clair" being an adjunct to mer. – GAM PUB May 29 '15 at 5:07

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