gris perle

The Plural of Colour Adjectives in French

French plurals are a pain, and some of the hardest plural rules apply to colour adjectives. Here’s a quick overview of the rules:

1. Simple adjectives

If the colour adjective is composed of only one word, it will agree with the noun it qualifies.

e.g.:

Une robe bleueDes robes bleues

Un œil vert – Des yeux verts

Une porte blanche – Des portes blanches

NOTE: Simple colour adjectives also agree with their noun in gender (masculine/feminine).

e.g:

Un ordinateur gris – Une souris grise

2. Compound adjectives

If the colour adjective is composed of two or more words, it will always remain invariable.

e.g.:

Un cheveu jaune pâle – Des cheveux jaune pâle

Un chandail gris perle – Des chandails gris perle

Un parapluie rouge vif – Des parapluies rouge vif

3. Nouns used as adjectives

Nouns can in some cases be used as adjectives to describe a particular colour (olive, orange, cherry, etc.) and they can be both simple and compound adjectives. In both cases, these adjectives remain invariable.

e.g.:

Un pantalon olive – Des pantalons olive

Une maison orange – Des maisons orange

Un bol cerise – Des bols cerise

EXCEPTIONS: The colours rose, mauve, pourpre, violet, écarlat, fauve, and incarnat do not follow this rule and agree in gender and number with the noun they qualify.

4. Adjectives derived from nouns and other adjectives

Colour adjectives come from other adjectives/nouns agree in both gender and number with their noun. These adjectives typically end in -asse, -eux, -i, -é, and -âtre.

e.g.:

Une cape argentée – Des capes argentées

Un pneu blanchâtre – Des pneus blanchâtres

Une joue rougie – Des joues rougies