The lexicon (vocabulary) of colours is very important in French, since it is very much used by French speakers. At the beginner level (level A1), it is one of the first things to learn and master. The video below will teach you the vocabulary of colours in French:
Thanks to this video, you will learn the most common colours in French. In order to understand the vocabulary of colours and to pronounce them well, watch the video several times by repeating aloud after the teacher.
When the teacher says “rouge”, say “rouge”. When the teacher says “vert”, say “vert”. When he says “bleu”, say “bleu”, etc.
To understand the vocabulary of colours in writing and to write it well, copy the list below several times. Use the images in the video to help you understand the meaning of each colour. Here is the list of colours presented in the video (in chronological order).
How To Say Colours Name in French
While colours in French are masculine when used as a noun, some colours’ names match the subject when used as an adjective:
These pants are white. = Ce pantalon est blanc.
That cap is white. = Cette casquette est blanche.
Since pants (pantalon) is masculine, the colour is also masculine. On the other hand, cap (casquette) is feminine, which is why the colour matches it. It’s not that complicated but this is an important rule that you need to remember.
The table above lists the colours that are invariable.
The Agreement of colour adjectives in French
The agreement of colour adjectives in French often poses problems. Indeed, is it necessary to write “des pulls rose” or “des pulls roses” (pink sweaters)?
“Yeux marron” or “Yeux marron” (brown eyes)? “Des volets bleu clair” or “Des volets bleus clairs” (light blue shutters)?
Does that sound complicated? The video below might help. 🙂
To understand it better, let’s look together at how to make the colour adjectives agree. To designate a colour, there are several possibilities:
- A colour adjective: a blue car = une voiture bleue
- A noun used as a colour adjective: an orange shirt = un t-shirt orange
- Two juxtaposed adjectives: blue-green pants = un pantalon bleu-vert
- Two coordinated adjectives: a blue and red sweater = un pull bleu et rouge
For each of these possibilities, the rules of agreement will be different. Now let’s see how to make a colour adjective agree depending on its form.
For a simple adjective
If it is a simple adjective, the adjective matches the noun in gender and number.
- Green coats = manteaux verts
- Red blouses = chemisiers rouges
- Blue bikes = vélos bleus
For a noun used as a colour adjective
If it is a noun used as an adjective, representing a fruit, a flower, a vegetable, a precious stone, a metal, etc., the adjective does not agree with it.
- Brown eyes = Yeux marron
- Orange bags = Sacs orange
- Turquoise skirts = Jupes turquoises
The words châtain, fauve, écarlate, mauve, incarnat, rose, vermeil, pourpre, violet are exceptions and must agree.
Pink fabrics = Tissus roses
Scarlet cheeks = Joues écarlates
Purple curtains = Rideaux violets
For two juxtaposed adjectives
Two adjectives can also be used next to each other to designate the colour. In this case the two adjectives are invariable.
A colour adjective and an adjective that shades the colour
If there is a colour adjective and an adjective that shades the colour (light, dark, etc.), the two elements are invariable and no hyphen is put between the two elements.
- Dark blue cars = Voitures bleu foncé
- Light yellow dresses = Robes jaune clair
- Metallic grey bikes = Vélos gris métallisé
A colour adjective and a colour adjective
If there is a colour adjective modified by another colour adjective, the two elements are also invariable but are usually linked by a hyphen.
- Blue-green oceans = Océans bleu-vert
- Yellow-green fields = Champs jaune-vert
- Blue-gray eyes = Yeux bleu-gris
For two coordinate adjectives
When there is the conjunction “and” between two adjectives, we speak of coordinate adjectives. In this case, one must pay attention to the meaning.
When we talk about things or objects that contain several colours, we do not match the two elements:
- Red and yellow flags. (Flags contain two colours: red and yellow) = Drapeaux rouge et jaune
When we talk about things that are one colour and another colour, the adjectives match:
- Red and yellow flags. (There are red flags and yellow flags) = Drapeaux rouges et jaunes
Did you know?
You can also use a compound noun to speak of the colour of something. In this case, all the words in the expression are invariable.
Jean set a rainbow wallpaper on his computer. = Jean a mis un fond d’écran arc-en-ciel sur son ordinateur.
You now know all the rules of adjective agreement. As you have seen, French adjectives are not always very easy to use, and I hope that the examples above will help you in your learning journey! 🙂
And for a bit of fun, check out these popular French swear words!