Il n'y a que des habits jaunes et vert foncé.

I’m not sure why the plurality applies only to the colour "jaunes", and not to the "vert". Shouldn’t the sentence be constructed more like:

Il n'y a que des habits jaunes et verts foncé.


Il n'y a que des habits jaunes et verts foncés.

An additional question: Does the adjective "foncé" refer only to the word "vert", or does its meaning extend to the "jaunes"?

2 Answers 2


A rule says that compound color adjectives are invariable.

Des chandails bleu marine.

J'ai vu des robes jaune citron.

Les feuilles de cet arbre sont rouge pâle.

Here are an exercise and some theory about color adjectives (in French only): http://www.ccdmd.qc.ca/media/ffiches_a_14Couleurs.pdf. Also, a French Wiktionary page about it.

As for your second question, I think foncé applies to vert only, because

  1. Jaune is plural, so it is a simple color adjective.
  2. Otherwise I think the sentence would be Il n'y a que des habits jaune foncé et vert foncé or something.
  • 2
    So am I right in thinking that we should turn "une robe verte" into "une robe vert foncé"? And on the same note, is "une robe rouge vermeil" the correct phrase to use instead of "une robe rouge vermeille"? Merci. Jun 26, 2016 at 2:06
  • 2
    You're right on both phrases. In addition to Archa's answer : when an item has several colors, they also become invariable. So if you have some items that are yellow and some that are green, you'd write "des vêtements jaunes et verts", but if your clothes are both colors (e.g. striped) you'd write "des vêtements jaune et vert". Jun 26, 2016 at 12:39
  • Merci. So does the original sentence "Il n'y a que des habits jaunes et vert foncé" mean that there are some yellow clothes and some dark green ones, instead of there being only some clothes with the mixed colours? Jun 26, 2016 at 13:28
  • That's quite plausible.
    – Archa
    Jun 26, 2016 at 21:12

In french, color adjectives are variables.

You can say

"Des pulls verts."

But ! If the color is also a noun, for example 'orange', it will be invariable.

"Des pulls orange."

But ! If the color is in two parts, it will be variable only if there is no dash between them, and only one the first word.

"Des pulls bleu-vert (no s)."

"Des pulls bleuS ciel (no s)."

So in your example, you should say :

"Il n'y a que des habits jaunes et verts foncé."

So in the first sentence, "foncé" can refer to "jaunes" or "verts" (but "vert foncé" is way more usual than "jaune foncé" so it is probably refering to "verts").

Sources : http://www.projet-voltaire.fr/blog/regle-orthographe/des-maillots-%C2%AB-orange-%C2%BB-ou-%C2%AB-oranges-%C2%BB


  • 1
    Des pulls bleus ciel is incorrect, bleu should have no s too.
    – jlliagre
    Nov 15, 2016 at 15:52

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