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Well, my whole understanding of matching gender of nouns and adjectives just got shaken.

I read today, "un jupe vert clair".  "Jupe" is feminine, but "un", "vert", and "clair" are masculine.  Can someone straighten me out, please?


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If I saw that ,like you I would be seeing it for the first time.

I don't think it is a mistake though and this is how I would interpret it.

It can't mean a pale green skirt so I would hazard a guess that it means a skirt in the category "pale green"

Do you see what I mean?

If you went into a  clothes shop there would be the same skirt in may be 4 or 5 different colours  and those colours would be used to apply to anything in the catalogue .So they might not have to agree with a particular article of clothing.

A generic usage might be how I would describe it (If I am right)

Edit: Maybe it is simpler than that.Maybe "combination adjectives" like "vert clair" just don't take a feminine form (or even a plural form)

I wonder if Chantal still frequents this forum as she is our resident native French speaker.

oh, this is the color matching special rules .... 

if a color is only an adjective and is used alone =>  agreement between the adjective and the noun

un pantalon vert. Des pantalons verts. Une jupe verte. Des jupes vertes.

from Foreign words adjectives : no agreement. Des pantalons kaki.

if a "color" word exists as an adjective and as a noun  like "orange" or "marron" => no agreement

un pantalon orange. Des pantalons orange. Une jupe orange. Des jupes orange.

there are other colors (and nouns) like that : abricot, argent, brique, chocolat.... (and other) : des labradors chocolat

exceptions (adjective and noun and agreement) : rose, mauve, pourpre, écarlate, fauve, vermeil and incarnat : des robes roses.

becareful orange = no agreement, orangé = agreement.  the same for argent/argenté

des tâches orange, des taches orangées.

But if you add an "S" as "des jupes oranges", it's not a disaster....  even in France this rule is not always respected.

If the color is described with two words without connection : no agreement

la jupe vert clair (2 adjectives), les pantalons bleu ciel (an adjective + a noun)

If these 2 words are colors, add a "-" : les yeux bleu-gris

if an object is described with two colors with a connection word and theses 2 colors are in the same objet : no agreement

des chaussures vert et jaune = each shoe is green and yellow.

if the objet is described with two colors with a connection word and each object is only with one colour :  agreement

des pommes vertes et jaunes  = there are yellow apples and green apples.

so :

Il y a des taches jaunes, roses, orange, vert clair et violettes 

Thank you so very much.  I had no clue.  This is a little complicated, so it'll take some time before I'll remember this, I'm sure.

In any case, the article matches the noun.  La jupe vert clair, not Le jupe vert clair.  I must have misremembered the source of my confusion.  I've been unsuccessful searching for it again.

  • Indeed ,quite complicated (and surprising)
  • I will never remember all that.
  • I  will be happy enough if I recognize it -if and when I encounter the various  examples.

yes, even in France, for a lot of native french speakers these rules are complicated. not in a conversation, in speech, or talking.

But writing colors without errors means to think and be concentrating. 

I had to confess, I read again rules before writing them. (the part with orange, and rose is especially hard)

Like a minefield :)


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