French Phrases: Colour modifiers in French
On the previous page, we saw the names of basic colours in French. On this page we look at how more intricate colour names are formed
in French. A number of devices similar to English are used:
- A modifier, equivalent to dark, light etc in English,
may be used;
- Two basic colour names (cf blue-green, or a basic colour name plus a noun
(cf cherry red), may be combined;
- In a similar way to the English word coloured, the French word
couleur can be used with a noun to denote 'the colour of the
object denoted by that noun' (cf English coffee-coloured etc).
Colour modifiers (dark, light) in French
The following are commonly used to modify colour adjectives in French:
Why is it not yeux bleus clairs etc?
Note that when the colour adjective is modified, the convention is for the
colour adjective (and modifier) to appear in its 'bare' form1.
Compound colour names
In general, complex colour names can be formed in a similar way to English, by combining
two colour adjectives (bleu vert) or by combining an adjective plus noun
(in that order: gris ardoise = slate grey). Many colour names thus
translate literally. Here are some common combinations:
Suggest a change / proposez une modification
|bleu ciel||bløsjɛl||sky blue|
|bleu marine||blømaʁin||navy blue|
|bleu roi||bløʁwa||royal blue|
|bleu turquoise||bløtyʁkwaz||turquoise blue|
|gris ardoise||gʁiaʁdwaz||slate grey|
|gris perle||gʁipɛʁl||pearl grey|
Saying ...-colour(ed) in French
In English, many nouns can be suffixed with the word colour or coloured
as in flesh-coloured. The French equivalent is to use
the expression couleur (de) ..., as in:
1. I have not found a grammar that disagrees with this convention or indeed a descriptive
grammar denying that it occurs in practice.
However, judging by the number of instances on the Internet of expressions such as
feuilles vertes foncées, it is possible that this situation
is changing at least in informal use.
Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.