I have read the following sentence in a French language learning tool:

Elle vend un ancien chapeau.

According to https://about-france.com/french/adjectives.htm, the adjective "ancien" means "former" when it precedes a noun and "ancient" / "old" when it comes after it. Larousse examples in the definition of the adjective "ancien" seem to confirm it. As "a former hat" makes no sense, is the sentence above incorrect?


"Former hat" is not idiomatic but "hat she used to wear" is, and that is what "ancien chapeau" means. It remains to find a word or at least a shorter combination of English words to express that, if possible. I know of none that should be unambiguous. "Previous hat" is not better than "former hat".

You can say "old" in English though, as in "my old school"; it means "former" as you'll probably recall, but if "former" is not idiomatic for "hat", I think that "old" is (OALD, number 5).

  • She is selling an old hat of hers.

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