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Just wondering why the chaud isn't gender specific. Is it because it's a noun in this case?

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    In a word, yup. Same for j'ai froid, etc. – Luke Sawczak Apr 25 '18 at 16:12
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Yes, in that sentence "chaud" is a noun that means "heat", and as such its gender does not depend on who is feeling hot.

Notice that the verb is avoir (to have), not être (to be). We don't say "I am hot"; literally, "j'ai chaud" means "I have heat", but more accurately it means "I am feeling heat". The same construction appears often: "j'ai froid" = "I am feeling the cold", "j'ai faim" = "I am feeling hunger", "j'ai soif" = "I am feeling thirst", "j'ai envie de [...]" = "I am feeling envy for" (= "I would like") and so on.

Note that the more common translation of "heat" is "chaleur", a feminine noun. The two are not interchangeable, though. "Chaud" as a noun is almost always used in the expression "avoir chaud" (to feel heat) or "être au chaud" (to be in a warm place). Other than in these two expressions, it's safe to assume that you need to translate "heat" as "chaleur".

  • Some more usages with le chaud as a noun: avoir un coup de chaud (to become sick because of the heat), souffler le chaud et le froid (to give positive and negative feedback at the same time), or it can be used as an ellision to designate something hot in opposition a to a cold alternative (ex: "j'amène d'abord le chaud" for "j'amène d'abord les plats chauds"). – Greg Apr 26 '18 at 7:49
  • Do you have on-line references supporting chaud is still considered a substantive in j'ai chaud? All the ones I've found are describing it as an adverb outside one stating it is an adjective. I have read the Grand Robert does it, but it's not available on-line. – jlliagre Apr 28 '18 at 9:54
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Simply, no number or gender matching with "avoir" unless a direct object exists and comes before avoir, but this is a topic that is off this question.

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Avoir chaud is a set expression where chaud is used, depending of the grammarians, as a noun (Robert), an adverb (wikipedia, cordial, Larousse, TLFi), or an adjective (adjectif adverbal: Gabriel Wyler) ...

The noun chaud is masculine so can't agree with anything. (J'ai grand chaud)
The adverb chaud is invariable.
The adjective chaud can agree in French, but there is no example of agreement with "avoir + adjective".

The nominal status of chaud can be challenged when we see it commonly used with an adverb like très:

Elle a très chaud.

Elle a très faim.

In any case, set expressions (locutions) should be considered as a whole and it can be pointless not to do it.

Here are some references where chaud is considered to be an adverb:

TLFi

A.− Emplois adv.
1. Loc. verbales
...
c) Avoir chaud. Une rose, qui a trop chaud, se dévêt de ses feuilles, une à une (Renard, Journal, 1902, p. 762). − Domaine de la personnalité hum. Autrefois son âme avait froid, maintenant elle avait chaud (Hugo, Les Misérables, t. 1, 1862, p. 506).

Larousse

chaud, adverbe
....
Avoir chaud, avoir une sensation de chaleur.

Cordial

chaud, adverbe
Dans les locutions "boire chaud", "tenir chaud", "manger chaud", "avoir chaud", "à chaud", "au chaud", etc.

Wikipedia

chaud, Adverbe Invariable
...
Se tenir chaud. Boire chaud. Manger chaud.
Dérivés
avoir chaud
...

The agreement wouldn't have been wrong with the verb être though, but beware of the different meanings:

Je suis chaude / Je suis chaud...

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    I am not sure it is used as an adverb: the adverb would be "chaudement". You would say "je m'habille chaudement", not "je m'habille chaud". It is rather a noun, just like in "j'ai faim"/"j'ai soif". – Greg Apr 26 '18 at 7:52
  • @Greg The TLFi lists chaud as an adverb in the set expression avoir chaud. It seems there is a lot of controversy about the nature of chaud it it. Grammarians do not all agrees, some state it is a noun, other an adjective. I will update my answer to report that. – jlliagre Apr 27 '18 at 12:02
  • As a teenager would say: ah ouais, c'est chaud !. – Greg Apr 27 '18 at 12:14
  • @jlliagre Should it not easier to just consider avoir chaud, prendre congé, avoir faim, etc. as set expressions (locutions) in which avoir and chaud loose their original grammatical function and class and a new object is made by them expressing a new idea? – Dimitris Apr 27 '18 at 13:07
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    @Greg Answering to your first point: chaudement isn't necessarily the only/right adverb. You wouldn't say il faut boire chaudement but il faut boire chaud. In that specific case there is no ambiguity: chaud is definitely an adverb. – jlliagre Apr 27 '18 at 14:21
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Avoir chaud, avoir faim, avoir soif, prendre congé, perdre patience, avoir peur, etc., sont des locutions verbales. Une locution verbale est une action représentée par un verbe additionné d'un autre mot. (cf. wiki) Chaud peut être à la fois nom et adjectif :

Ce plat est trop chaud (adjectif). Je crains le chaud (nom).

Les locutions verbales font partie intégrante du verbe en lui donnant son sens; les deux mots "avoir" et "chaud" exprimant une seule idée.

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