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Super Scary…Superlatives! Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in Grammar

For the remainder of October, we will be tackling difficult grammar in the “Super Scary” series. This week is “Super Scary…Superlatives!”

Superlatives are adverbs or adjectives that signify the greatest degree or amount of the verb or noun used. In English this would be: “She wrote the best book on the subject.” Here, “best” is the superlative, which is used as an adjective that is modifying the noun”book.” Here’s another example: “The Mediterranean diet is said to be the healthiest diet in the world.” You can also modify an adjective by adding “most,” such as: “She is the most beautiful woman in the world.”

In French, the superlative requires more words than it does in English. To form the superlative in French, simply add the definite article to either plus (more) or moins (less). “The most beautiful painting,” then, would be translated as follows: Le plus beau tableau. For example: J’étais au Louvre et j’ai vu le plus beau tableau du monde! (I was at the Louvre, and I saw the most beautiful painting in the world!) Note here that both the definite article and the adjective must agree with the noun. Here tableau is masculine, thus the definite article remains masculine (le) as does its adjective (beau). If the noun used was feminine, then the definite article and adjective would become la and belle. For example: C’est la plus belle voiture dans le parking! (It’s the most beautiful car in the lot!)

So, to make a superlative in French (it’s not scary, it’s easy!):

le/la/les + plus/moins + adjective/adverb

There are, however, one important irregular superlative form that you should be aware of:

Using bon with plus/moins is not grammatically correct. This works similarly in English, right? You wouldn’t say that something is “most good,” rather you would say something is “the best.”

Bon(ne) (g00d) in its superlative form becomes le/la meilleur(e). For example: Notre-Dame de Paris est le meilleur livre de Victor Hugo. (The Hunchback of Notre Dame is Victor Hugo’s best book.)

Keep in mind that that bon is an adjective; if you are modifying a verb and not a noun, you must use bien instead of bon. The comparative (not superlative) equivalent of bien is mieux…but that’s a lesson for another post!

Now it’s your turn. Can you use the French superlative to tell me something about yourself? Post your superlative sentence in the comments below!

 

 

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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at http://www.imaginistwriter.com. A la prochaine!


Comments:

  1. sunshine:

    Tres bonne presentation!
    Could you in another post show us/ me how to type les accents on the keyboard!
    Passez une bonne journee’

    • Elizabeth Schmermund:

      @sunshine Sure, Sunshine! That’s a great suggestion.

  2. Nancy:

    Très bonne explication, mais vous n’avez pas parlé à “bad” et “worse” and “worst.”
    Merci,

    • Elizabeth Schmermund:

      @Nancy Merci, Nancy! Je le ferais dans un autre post!

  3. Lara:

    J’etais dans Florence au Italie, Je vu le plus beau eglise.

    • Elizabeth Schmermund:

      @Lara Très bon essai, Lara. “église” est un nom feminin, alors ça serait plutôt: “J’étais à Florence en Italie quand j’ai vu la plus belle église!”

  4. Lynne:

    Je dois Le plus beau Hardin Alec les meilleures rises

  5. Lynne:

    Oh no – my predictive text has ruined my post.
    I’ll try again.

    Je dois le plus beau jardin avec les meilleures roses

    • Elizabeth Schmermund:

      @Lynne Great job, Lynne! Did you want to say that you have the most beautiful garden with the best roses? (your post is making me miss spring!) If so, it would be: J’ai le plus beau jardin avec les meilleures roses. Je dois means “I must” or “I owe.”