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Learn how to say colors in French and pronounce them
Learning how to say colors in French can seem very basic and you may think that there is not a lot to tell about it, but you will be wrong to think that way.
Colors are used in everyday life: to speak about people's origins, describe their eyes color, hair color, types of wine, in some idiomatic expressions, ...
So if you learn the names of colors and how to pronounce them, you'll master one big component of French language.
List of common colors in French
Before diving in, it's important to note that the word for color in French is Couleur.
We say "une couleur", which means it's a female word. But When talking about individual colors like red or blue, those are all masculine. We say le bleu, le jaune, le rouge, ...
Below is the list of the most commonly used colors in French with their pronounciation and their translation in English.
The agreement of colors in French
In French, colors can be used as names. Example : Le bleu est ma couleur préférée. (Blue is my favorite color).
They can also be used as adjectives. In that case, it's important to make agreements. This means that you need to pay attention to their gender and number. You should find wether the word it describes is female, male, singular or plural.
Une robe bleue => a blue dress
un pantalon bleu => a blue pants
des pantalons bleus =>blue pants
You can see that the noun robe and pantalon determine which agreement to make.
To form the feminine of color adjectives, the general rule is adding an extra "e". For example :
Un sac noir / une jupe noire,
Un habit bleu /une écharpe bleue.
⚠ Colors who already end with e stay unchanged. Rouge => Rouge.
Some colors who refer to the color of something, are invariable. For example: Orange, marron, cerise, noisette, ... Une robe marron/ un pantalon marron.
The color Blanc becomes Blanche. Example : Un verre blanc/ Une tasse blanche.
Here is a table of the most common colors and their feminine.
To form the plural of colors, we add a S to the adjective. Example: Une robe bleue => des robes bleues. The adjectives of colors like marron, orange as said previously remain unchanged.
Un cahier marron/des cahiers marron.
Un cahier gris/des cahiers gris.
The colors mauve, écarlate, pourpre and fauve are exceptions. They vary depending on the noun they describe.
Example : Des robes roses.
The same applies to the color Gris which already ends with a S. Then no need to add an extra S.
Nuances or shades of colors
What we have seen above are the French basic colors. If we want to go deeper inside, we might want to talk about shades (les nuances de couleur). To speak about shades, we use combined colors. For example
une jupe bleu clair => a light blue skirt
un pantalon bleu clair => a light blue plants..
Did you notice that wether the word described is feminine or masculine, there is no change to the colors? The compound adjectives of colors are invariable.
The following expressions are often used to speak about shades.
clair (e) = light
foncé (e) = dark
vif, vive = bright
jaune poussin = pale yellow
vert olive = Olive green
bleu nuit = midnight blue
bleu ciel = sky blue
jaune moutarde = mustard yellow
rouge bordeaux = burgundy
bleu roi = royal blue
rose saumon = salmon pink.
The place of the color adjective in the sentence
The color adjective doesn't work the same way as in English. For instance, a blue dress (adjective+noun) becomes in French une robe bleue (noun+adjective).
The adjective of colors is placed after the noun as you can see in the two examples above. We don't say une bleue robe as we can be tempted to say but une robe bleue.
Practice activities for colors
I have selected some interesting activities on the web for you. Happy practicing!
Devinette sur les couleurs
The colors song for kids
Fruits and vegetables