The instruction to an exercise in a grammar textbook tells us to complete the sentence

Ils habitent dans cette maison de retraite : ce sont des .... .

with "un participe présent ou un adjectif verbal du verbe résider". But don't we need a noun here?

  • On peut avoir les deux, adjectif et substantif ... cnrtl.fr/definition/r%C3%A9sidant
    – None
    Jun 23, 2023 at 11:23
  • There is an error; it should be "un participe présent, un adjectif verbal, ou nom (substantif), dérivé du verbe résider".
    – LPH
    Jun 23, 2023 at 11:33
  • We do need a noun, there's a flaw in the instructions. Jun 23, 2023 at 11:33
  • Those who say résidants is wrong / is not a noun could ponder on why résidants de la maison de retraite is so widespread. Also I find this explanation : Résident ou résidant ? clear. As often it comes down to what point of view we want to convey.
    – None
    Jun 23, 2023 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


I think the expected solution is résidents.

Here "résident" is used as a common noun. It's important to note that you can also write "résidant" as explained here, but that the Académie Française advises against this spelling.

With a present participle value, it would be used in this way instead:

Ma cousine, résidant au 56 rue Diderot, va bientôt déménager.

My cousin, living at 56 rue Diderot, will soon be moving.

And as a qualifying adjective:

C'est l'appartement où elle était résidante.

This is the apartment where she used to live.

To come back to the question in the exercise, as you've already noticed, after the indefinite article des we mostly place a noun, but sometimes an adjective, as in the sentence Ils sont des sympathiques résidents.

If you could add an image of the exercise in question, perhaps we could be sure that it's an error.

  • « but sometimes an adjective » : ce n'est pas exact, le mot « résident » a atteint la qualité de véritable nom ; certains adjectifs, comme « heureux » ou « invincible » ont la nature d'adjectif employé comme substantif, et d'autres adjectifs ne peuvent avoir qu'un moindre caractère nominal (usage elliptique en contexte restreint, pas dans les dictionnaires) (« les secs sont brulés les premiers, les verts sont mis à sécher (des rondins de bois, par exemple)). Il y a donc une erreur dans « un participe présent ou un adjectif verbal du verbe résider ».
    – LPH
    Jun 23, 2023 at 14:40
  • 2
    @LPH The part of the answer you quote only states that the word that immediately follows the indefinite article des is usually a noun, occasionally an adjective, which is completely correct – there is no doubt that sympathiques in the example given is an adjective. The quote doesn’t deal with whether résident is a noun or an adjective. Jun 23, 2023 at 18:53
  • @JanusBahsJacquet There is probably a confusion in your mind. "Sympathique" is an adjective, but that is not what "des" determines; "des" can only determine a noun, and that noun is "résidents". However the sentence should be "Ce sont de sympathiques voisins.", or, as usual, "Ce sont des résidents sympathiques." (The normal place of this adjective is after the noun.). Whether you add "sympathique" in the OP's text makes no difference: "résidents" has to be the noun, not the adjective (cnrtl.fr/definition/r%C3%A9sident). "Un participe présent ou un adjectif verbal" is not enough.
    – LPH
    Jun 23, 2023 at 21:11
  • 4
    @LPH No, no confusion. The part of the answer that you quoted doesn’t say anything about what the article modifies but what comes after the article – viz., the word immediately following it. That will most frequently be a noun, but it can sometimes be an adjective modifying a noun. I agree that the exercise is clearly looking for a noun, not a participle or adjective, and that the instructions are wrong; but that is completely irrelevant to the quote. I’m only saying that, “after the indefinite article des we mostly place a noun, but sometimes an adjective” is not an incorrect statement. Jun 23, 2023 at 22:47
  • @JanusBahsJacquet The fact that the adjective comes between the head and the determiner (des)—which amounts to "right after the determiner— has nothing to do with the question. Then user Hippo goes on with "perhaps we could be sure "; the fact is that we are sure: "résident" is a noun and cannot be called an adjective. That is what I am saying.
    – LPH
    Jun 24, 2023 at 4:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.