I'm a beginner to the French language, and I've heard about the acronym BANGS to describe adjectives that precede nouns (Beauty, Age, Number, Goodness, Size). My textbook asked to translate "the kind woman" into French, and the answer given is "la femme gentille". Since kindness falls into the 'Goodness' category, wouldn't it be "la gentille femme"? Thanks.

  • Possible duplicate of "une plus vieille femme" or "une femme plus vieille" – Toto May 5 '19 at 10:15
  • I do not think this question to be a duplicate; this problem of the place of the adjective is often specific to the particular case and the present case is different: both places are relevant in the case brought by the OP, whereas in the would-be duplicate only one is, no definite meaning being recognised for one of the two possible positions. – LPH May 5 '19 at 11:57

You've heard about the BANGS rule but it's been said also that this rule is not without exceptions.

There are two possibilities here; if you're talking about a particular case you'd place the adjective before;

  • La gentille femme que vous êtes ne sait pas qu'il y a des gens qui essaierons d'abuser d'elle.

If you speak generically, that is if for instance you have to make a statement characterising women who are kind you will place it after;

  • La femme gentille n'est pas nécessairement une femme qui fréquente l'église tous les dimanches ni même une femme religieuse.
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  • Is this some kind of general rule, or is it specific to gentil in the same way that ancien has different meanings according to placement? – David Robinson Jul 21 '19 at 19:09
  • @DavidRobinson It's a general rule but it's applicable to a class of adjectives that I couldn't specify precisely. ex. Le petit homme dans la cour allait de droite et de gauche. (a specific man) _ L'homme petit n'est pas gêné en entrant dans ces voitures de métro, c'est l'homme grand qui doit s'incliner. (generic, all tall men). However, there exists such an entanglements of general usages and particular usages that it is sometimes hard to make out what is what (except for the well read man, of course). – LPH Jul 21 '19 at 19:47
  • Both the examples you give (gentil and petit) are adjectives that go before, according to the grammar books, so they are being "moved back". Are there specific situations where adjectives that go after (according to the books) are "moved forward"? – David Robinson Jul 22 '19 at 12:56
  • @DavidRobinson I can't think of too many examples for which there should be a change of meaning, but there are lots of them for which a syntax change is the norm without change in meaning: des heures pareilles/ de pareilles heures, de lointains pays/des pays lointains, … Here is an example: des fleurs rares, des bijoux rares, des fruits rares (que l'on trouve peu souvent)/ la rare production viticole anglaise, la rare peinture préhistorique (que l'on trouve en petite quantité). – LPH Jul 22 '19 at 16:28
  • @DavidRobinson Notice that this adjective defies the bangs rule (antonym: nombreux). – LPH Jul 22 '19 at 16:36

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