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The following is a sentence in a grammar textbook1 :

Il s’agit maintenant de faire très attention.
We/You should be very careful now.

It surprised me that "très" could be used to modify a noun ("attention")! I had thought that "très" could only modify an adjective or another adverb.


This website says that:

"You can use très in front of adjectives, adverbs, and even certain nouns, such as those that refer to feelings but use avoir—"to be."

and it gives a single example of très modifying a noun:

J'ai très faim. > I am very hungry.

But I note that this explanation doesn't apply to the first sentence I quoted in this question ("Il s'agit maintenant de faire très attention"); that sentence isn't referring to a feeling, and doesn't use avoir.


Looking at the WordReference page for "très", I see three expressions where "très" seems to modify a noun:

  • avoir très envie de faire [qch]
  • être très famille
  • être très femme

But, I don't see "avoir très faim" or "faire très attention" in this list.


So, I'm wondering, when is "très" allowed to modify a noun? Can it actually modify any noun? Or does it basically modify a noun only in fixed expressions (and that I should consider "faire très attention" and "avoir très faim" as fixed expressions)?

Can you give some example sentences where "très" is used to modify a noun?


1. Monique L'Huiller, "Advanced French Grammar", p. 255

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  • Wordreference does not give systematic explanations. It's just a little bit of everything. So it should not be surprising.
    – Lambie
    Apr 21 at 15:01

1 Answer 1

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Très can modify any noun as long as this noun represent something with some characteristics that allow it to be used adjectivally.

eg.

Si on prend une région très Macron - la Bretagne -, en réalité, c'est très Macron à Rennes et un peu moins dans les zones rurales. Europe 1

Je trouve que Baker fait très chauffeur de maître., Roger Borniche, Le Gringo, 2014.

However, the fact très can modify any noun doesn't mean it can be used anywhere arbitrarily.

For example this pop-corn label from @Luke's comment doesn't make sense in French:

enter image description here

At least, it should have read Saveur très beurre to stay grammatical but even that phrasing is unlikely to have been retained by the marketing department.

Proper translations might be:

Maïs à éclater au bon goût de beurre

or

Maïs à éclater (goût) extra-beurre.

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    I suspect any noun can be used adjectivally, provided you find a suitable context. e.g. Ce vélo fait très moto.
    – jlliagre
    Apr 21 at 7:37
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    Can you articulate why this is wrong (as it seems to me)?
    – Luke Sawczak
    Apr 21 at 21:37
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    In English, extra butter is what you ask for at the movies or from a popcorn stand. The choices are: no butter, butter and extra butter. Extra butter flavor means: It tastes like it has extra butter. Au beurre, sans beurre, et?? Je ne sais pas. Au goût très beurré?
    – Lambie
    Apr 22 at 15:45
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    Je trouverais usuel à saveur intense de beurre au Québec, la pub est vraiment genre perle du mois de la traduction loufoque, même si très beurre/é a peut-être été employé sans aucun lien avec une traduction ailleurs, ce qui donne comme une impression de coller? Apr 22 at 22:51
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    @JohnJiang At best a failed attempt: à saveur de très belle would be equally wrong.
    – jlliagre
    Apr 24 at 8:17

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