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I know vous is used for plural but also for being polite. I also know that the adjective should agree with the subject. So, if I'm saying to two or more people that they're sympathetic, then I would write:

Vous êtes sympathiques!

And then sympathiques is written with an extra s because I'm talking to more persons. But if I'm talking to one person, and use vous to be polite, is the sentence below correct?

Vous êtes sympathiques!

In this case, sympathiques agrees with the subject, but sympathiques is plural, and I'm talking to one person.

So, should I use sympathiques or sympathique when I'm talking to one person but use vous to be polite?

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  • One person, polite vous: no s. Two people or more, with s.
    – Lambie
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:09

3 Answers 3

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The agreement for adjectives is dependant on the real number:

  • to a single person:

    Vous êtes sympathique.

  • to several persons:

    Vous êtes sympathiques.

As an aside, verb inflexions are the same in both cases (plural vous, or singular formal vous).

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  • This answer is based on this one: french.stackexchange.com/questions/2374/…. I've just changed the focus to the part that address this particular question. Jul 30, 2013 at 11:53
  • What if you are talking to a married or non single person? :)
    – Shlublu
    Jul 30, 2013 at 11:55
  • @Shlublu: I changed it to “persons”. With “sympathique” instead of “belle”, no reason to mention women. But I don't really understand what you mean. Are you implying that saying vous êtes sympathique to a married woman is inappropriate?? Anyway grammatically it makes no difference :-) Jul 30, 2013 at 12:01
  • 2
    No, I'm absolutely not suggesting that. This was only a pun with "single person" actually.
    – Shlublu
    Jul 30, 2013 at 12:07
  • 2
    @Shlublu: Ahah. Shame on me. This substitution was naughty, it created a pun without my knowing. Jul 30, 2013 at 12:11
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Should you be talking to one person, the verb agrees with vous as if it was a singular subject. This because this is actually a singular subject, despite the polite use of a plural person.

So the correct sentence is, in this case:

Vous êtes sympathique !

3

J'accorde logiquement. Donc au singulier pour un vous de politesse ou un nous de modestie, au pluriel pour un on utilisé comme première personne du pluriel, au féminin pour un on ironique utilisé comme deuxième personne du singulier en m'adressant à une femme — On a du remord et on est venue demander pardon ? (en fait comme on peut avoir toutes les valeurs, tous les cas d'accord sont possibles).

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