I recently read a news article which used the phrase:

"un important carambolage"

Which I took to mean "A significant pileup"

"important" is before the noun here, so my thinking was, that because it's a reference to size it falls into the "bangs" category of adjectives, however my dictionary uses the phrase:

"une somme importante"

To mean "a significant sum" as an example usage of "important", so why isn't it before the noun in this instance? I feel there may be some nuance I'm missing here.

2 Answers 2


I think there is again a little bit of "feeling" for this specific example.

Indeed, both "un carambolage important" and "une importante somme" would be correct, but according to the context, the language register, one may sound more "clumsy" than the other one (in particular, "une importante somme" would sound formal in every day talking, but would perfectly fit tv news or in a novel).

For general rules on adjective position, you can check this link.

You'll see that there are general rules (that you may already know if you can read articles), and also, like for everything in french, tons of exceptions, specific cases...


For me, here we have two different meanings : - "un important carambolage" --> a huge crash - "une somme importante" --> a significant sum

It sounds like the two famous meanings about : - "un grand homme" --> a great man - "un homme grand" --> a tall man

But on your example, it does not depend on the position, better on the noun and on what it can be evaluated (like many/much meanings in english).

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