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Here is an example of the use of "de" preceding the complement of the verb être (a copular verb):

"Elle est quelqu'un de très passionné."

The interjected "de" and the ungendered "passionné" suggest that "passionné" is not really an adjective attached to "elle". But what is it? Would "Elle est quelqu'un très passionnée" be correct, or would one need to say "Elle est très passionnée"? And do the same rules apply irrespective of the verb (for example, "devenir", "sembler", "trouver" and other copular verbs)?

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  • Here is an example of the use of "de" preceding the complement of the verb être

    De is not preceding the complement of the verb but is in the middle of it.

    ...quelqu'un de très passionné. (someone very passionate)

  • The interjected "de" and the ungendered "passionné" suggest that "passionné" is not really an adjective attached to "elle". But what is it?

    Correct, passionné is an adjective attached to quelqu'un.

  • Would "Elle est quelqu'un très passionnée" be correct, or would one need to say "Elle est très passionnée"?

    Quelqu'un très passionné doesn't work, the preposition de is mandatory after quelqu'un if something qualifying it follows. This is true for other indefinite pronouns like quelque chose, rien, and personne. e.g.

    Je cherche quelque chose de reposant pour les vacances.

    Je ne trouve rien de bon dans ce restaurant.

    Il n'y a personne de disponible aujourd'hui.

    If a verb follows, you use qui:

    Je cherche quelqu'un qui pourrais me conduire à la gare.

    C'est quelque chose qui fait envie.

    Il n'y a rien ni personne qui m'inspire.

    Your alternate proposition is fine: ,

    Elle est très passionnée

  • And do the same rules apply irrespective of the verb (for example, "devenir", "sembler", "trouver" and other copular verbs)?

    Yes. It's unrelated to the verb. Quelqu'un is masculine, regardless of who it refers to, so the adjective must agree with it.

    J'ai découvert dans cette femme quelqu'un de très passionné.

    However, if you use qui, this constraint is relaxed:

    J'ai découvert dans cette femme quelqu'un qui sait ce qu'elle veut.

    See A la fortune du mot - 14/12/2013 - Bruno Dewaele

    Note that quelqu'une is very rare but does exist so you might venture Elle est quelqu'une de très passionnée as a potential still very risky alternative.

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  • Thanks for your explanation. I suppose it would be useless to ask why de is needed with quelqu'un. – Harry Audus Jan 19 at 23:07
  • I used the word "interjected" not in its grammatical sense but in its more general meaning of "put [thrown] between". – Harry Audus Jan 19 at 23:10
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    Answer edited to provide some information about this de. – jlliagre Jan 20 at 2:37
  • Thank you! Is there some strange (historical?) reason why de has to be used with quelqu'un? – Harry Audus Jan 21 at 3:46
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    It must be an ancient thing. Italian has the same de in qualcuno di stupido (quelqu'un de stupide / "someone stupid") and qualcosa di buono (quelque chose de bon / "something good"). There is no such de in Spanish though (alguien stupido/algo bueno) – jlliagre Jan 21 at 11:00

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