As a French Learner, I am always very afraid of using adjectives in French. Instead of saying "The tall building", I will always instead choose to say "The building that is tall".

One reason for my fear of adjectives is that there seems to be so many ways to form them in French, and I never know which way is proper.

  • Some words by themselves are very clearly adjectives, and when we first learn these words, we are explicitly told to remember these words as adjectives. These words are somewhat easy to use. (e.g. "vert", "sympa", etc)

  • However, sometimes a past participle seems to be used as an adjective. For example, when I put "Spoken French is very difficult to understand" into Google Translate, it translated "Spoken French" as "le français parlé". I had no idea that the verb "parler" could be transformed like this into the adjective "spoken".

  • And at other times, i think i have seen "de [noun]" or "à [noun]" used as adjectives, but I cannot remember any examples.

So, can anyone tell me all the ways that an adjective (or adjective clause) might be created in French?

  • A good start from this other question How do French people turn nouns into adjectives (of a sort)?
    – None
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 7:40
  • @Laure: that posts seems to be about how to form adjective words (ie just one word), by making a noun into an adjective. The words that that post talks about seems to be in the first category I thought of, in my post. I'm more wondering about all the different ways a person can create adjectives / adjective-clauses, that are in other categories; e.g. perhaps starting from a verb, or using à or de, or doing something else I have not thought of.
    – silph
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 4:13
  • 3
    I don't get your "spoken" example. In your English sentence "spoken" is also a past participle turned into and adjective....
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


From what I have seen, you can use the French past participle, in addition to the present participle, as an adjective.

Par exemple:

En allant au boulot, j'ai vu votre voiture arrêtée au carrefour.

Ce sont des films amusants.

NOTE: The verbs must agree in gender and quantity

Il y avait des voitures arrêtées...

As I am not a native speaker, I can not say with certainty; however, I believe that your example (Le français parlé) would be acceptable. If you were to use it like you say you had been using it with the construnction qui est parlé then you would be using the passive voice.

According to the first example, that is appropriate: here

I think you can also say à l'oral

À l'oral, le français risque d'être difficile à comprendre.

  • 3
    Past and Present Participles are indeed adjectives. I'd characterise "à l'oral" as an adverbial phrase, and it can't really be used as you did in your sentence but rather as an adjunct: À l'oral, le français risque d'être difficile à comprendre Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 11:52
  • 1
    The present participle cannot in general be used as an adjective in French. The corresponding adjective does not always exist. Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 12:57

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