Indefinite Adjectives in French: Rules for Speaking Generally

Most French adjectives you’ll encounter while you study French online describe specific characteristics like color, size, length, or quantity. But there are definitely other types of adjectives – indefinite ones.

Sometimes, we need to talk about just a few things. Or several things. Or maybe just some things – not most things, or all things.

This is where indefinite adjectives come into play.

What’s an indefinite adjective?

When you want to talk about a noun or a pronoun in a non-specific, somewhat fuzzy way, you can use indefinite adjectives.

These are words that give you a rough idea about the noun. Often, they refer to its approximate quantity.

Here are a few common indefinite adjectives in English:

  • few
  • each
  • several
  • many
  • some

Common French indefinite adjectives

Here are some of the most-used indefinite adjectives in French:

  • autre (other)
  • chaque (each, every)
  • plusieurs (several)
  • quelques (some)
  • tout (all)

Although these words all act similarly in a sentence, there are different rules for using them. We’ll look at these rules – and their exceptions – in greater detail.

Indefinite adjectives versus indefinite pronouns, articles, tenses, or subjects

Some of these other “indefinite” grammar concepts are related to indefinite adjectives, although others are not.

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns refer to non-specific people or things. Some of them happen to be the same as indefinite adjectives, although they are used as nouns in sentences (rather than to modify nouns).

Common indefinite pronouns in French include:

  • quelqu’un – someone
  • tout le monde – everyone
  • quelque chose – something
  • plusieurs – several
  • un autre – another
  • chacun – each (one)
  • tout – all, everything
  • certain – certain one(s)


  • C’est ce qu’on dit. – That’s what they say.
  • Quelqu’un a volé le vélo. – Someone stole the bicycle.
  • Chacun veut quelque chose de différent. – Everyone wants something different.

In several cases, indefinite pronouns – such as quelqu’un (someone) and tout le monde (everyone) – incorporate an indefinite adjective.

Indefinite articles

An indefinite article is a word like “a” or “an.” It’s placed in front of a noun to indicate that the noun is non-specific. If you say, for example, un stylo, you’re referring to any pencil at all (not a particular pencil).

In French, the singular indefinite articles are un (a/an [masculine]) and une (a/an [feminine]). The plural indefinite article is des.

Learn about indefinite adjectives in French language

Indefinite Subjects

An indefinite subject is a non-specific noun that is performing the action in a sentence.

For instance:

  • Un médecin va vous aider.A doctor is going to help you.
  • Des gens voyagent en métro.(Some) people travel by subway.

Indefinite subjects are preceded by indefinite articles – un, une, or des.

Indefinite Tense

“Indefinite tense” is just another name for le présent (the simple present tense). It’s used to describe events in the near future, habitual events, events currently happening, and universal truths. “Indefinite” in this context means that there isn’t a specific time frame attached to the event(s) being described. In other words, we don’t know when the event(s) started, or when the event(s) will end.

Why grammatical indefiniteness can be tricky for French learners

The meanings of French indefinite adjectives are fairly straightforward, with counterparts in English and most other languages. However, some of the grammar surrounding them requires special attention.  

  • Unlike most French adjectives, indefinite adjectives almost always precede the noun.
  • Some indefinite adjectives have additional meanings when used in other contexts.
  • Several indefinite adjectives are the same as indefinite pronouns, although they are used differently.
  • Not all sources agree on which words are indefinite adjectives.

We’ll offer some tips for French learners studying indefinite adjectives, to help you use these special words like native French speakers do.

Tips for using French indefinite adjectives like a pro

Once you’ve committed the most-used indefinite adjectives to memory, this handful of tips will help you understand and use them correctly.

Always place the indefinite adjective before the noun

A French adjective normally goes after the nouns that it describes, like un stylo rouge (a red pen) or la soupe chaude (the hot soup).

Indefinite adjectives are exceptions to the normal “adjective-after-noun” rule. For example:

  • quelques hommesa few men
  • plusieurs femmesseveral women
  • autres gens – other people

Only même breaks this pattern sometimes, when used for emphasis:

  • Il veut l’argent même, pas seulement l’honneur. – He wants the money itself, not just the honor.
  • C’est la beauté même. – It is beauty itself.

Remember to make French indefinite adjectives agree

Even though indefinite adjectives don’t express a precise quantity, they are still French adjectives – meaning that they should agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. Some of them, like tout (all), have four separate forms.

  • Tout l’appartement est enfin propre.All of the apartment (the entire apartment) is finally clean.
  • Tous les appartements dans cet immeuble sont chers. All of the apartments in this building are expensive.
  • Toute la maison est meublée.All of the house (the entire house) is furnished.
  • Toutes les maisons du quartier sont meublées. – All of the houses in the neighborhood are furnished.

Agreement: French Indefinite Adjective Forms

Masculine Singular

Masculine Plural

Feminine Singular

Feminine Plural

English Meaning(s)





none; not any

(une) autre


(une) autre












each, every





various; several












(de) nombreux


(de) nombreuses











which; what





some, a few





some; any; such





all; every

Learn the special cases

Learning a language would certainly be easier if grammar rules were always followed. Alas, languages are quirky and peppered with exceptions to the rules. When you learn the rules that will guide you in most situations, also take note of the special cases and exceptions.

Some indefinite adjectives are limited in agreement.

While some indefinite adjectives have four forms to match all combinations of number and gender, there are exceptions.

  • Singular only
    • aucun / aucune
    • chaque
  • Plural only
    • divers / diverses
    • (de) nombreux / (de) nombreuses
    • plusieurs
  • Identical masculine and feminine forms
    • autre
    • chaque
    • même(s)
    • plusieurs
    • quelque(s)

Quelque: Some fixed expressions

In the singular, quelque is part of several common fixed expressions, like quelque chose (something, anything), quelque temps (a while, some time), quelque part (somewhere, anywhere), and quelqu’un (someone, anyone).

Tout and même: different roles and meanings

Like supporting actors in a play, some of these French indefinite adjectives can do a quick costume change, appearing in other “roles” in a sentence – and taking on other meanings. Although tout is often a supporting actor, it can also be an understudy, ready to play a main role at a moment’s notice.


When tout breaks into a starring role as a noun, it always stays in its “base” form, which is masculine and singular. In this role, tout is literally “everything”:

  • Tout m’agace.Everything annoys me.
  • Elle a tout compris. – She understood everything.

In its supporting role as an indefinite adjective meaning “all of,” however, tout has to change to match both the gender and number of the noun it is modifying:

  • Toutes nos voitures sont neuves.All of our cars are brand new.
  • Le siège de tous les cadres supérieurs est à Paris. – The headquarters for all senior executives is in Paris.

Feminine adjectives and nouns that start with an h deserve special attention.

Although tout generally becomes toute when used in front of a feminine word, there are some exceptions for feminine adjectives that start with h muet (unaspirated -h) or a vowel:

  • Odile était tout heureuse ce jour-là. – Odile was quite happy that day.
  • Après avoir sauvé le chaton, elle se sentait tout héroïque. – After having saved the kitten, she felt all heroic.

On the other hand, when using tout in front of a feminine noun that starts with an unaspirated -h, tout must agree with the gender and number of the noun:

  • Toute histoire qu’elle raconte est intéressante. – Every story she tells is interesting. / Any story she tells is interesting.

In front of a feminine noun or that starts with an aspirated -h, you will use toute (for singular nouns) or toutes (for plural ones):

  • Il a couru en toute hâte vers l’avion. – He ran in all haste [rushed] toward the airplane.
  • En ce moment de crise, toute hiérarchie avait été oubliée. – In that moment of crisis, all rank order had been forgotten.
  • Toutes les halles vendent des produits locaux.All the covered markets sell local products.
  • Toutes haches dans la forteresse doivent être affûtées avant la bataille.All axes in the fortress must be sharpened before the battle.
  • La femme coupable était toute honteuse.  – The guilty woman was very ashamed.

In addition to serving as an indefinite adjective, même can also be an adverb, an indefinite pronoun, and part of personal pronouns such as moi-même (myself) and eux-mêmes (themselves).

When même is acting as an indefinite adjective, you’ll see it paired with a noun:

  • C’est toujours la même chose. – It’s always the same thing.
  • Elle porte la même chemise aujourd’hui. – She’s wearing the same shirt today.

Autre and même: The only French indefinite adjectives to take an article

Autre and même can each take articles, although not the same ones.


Like de nombreux / de nombreuses, autre always works alongside another word.

In the singular, if you want to describe “one other” (or “another”) of a certain noun, you would say un autre or une autre:

  • Je voudrais un autre stylo. – I would like another pen.
  • Il suit une autre recette. – He follows another recipe.

Autres can be used in the plural to mean “some other.” In this case, you’ll need to use d’ in front of autres (as a shortened form of des):

  • Nous avons d’autres livres ici. – We have some other books here.
  • Elle a chanté d’autres chansons. – She sang some other songs.

If you want to express that you have a certain number of other things, you can pair autres with a number:

  • cinq autres chosesfive other things
  • deux autres chambrestwo other rooms
  • dix autres couleursten other colors

When used as an indefinite adjective, même will follow the definite article:

  • le même pontthe same bridge
  • la même églisethe same church
  • les mêmes chiensthe same dogs

The definite article will need to agree with the noun in gender and number. Même itself will need to agree in number with the noun.

De nombreux: An indefinite adjective with a preposition

Nombreux, which is always plural, doesn’t like to work alone. You’ll use it with its sidekick, de (of), to mean numerous or many.

  • De nombreux élèves étudient les maths.Many pupils study mathematics.
  • J’ai eu de nombreux livres sur les langues étrangères dans ma bibliothèque personnelle. – I’ve kept many books about foreign languages in my personal library.
  • De nombreuses chansons parlent d’amour.Many songs speak of love.
  • Il a cuit de nombreuses tartes aux fruits frais. – He baked many fresh fruit pies.

Like many of its fellow indefinite adjectives, nombreux uses gender agreement – as you can see in the examples with chansons (songs) and tartes (pies), both of which are feminine.

While indefinite adjectives in French might seem tricky at first, they are used quite frequently. Try to get exposure to some French audio, video, and text several times a week, and you will quickly get the hang of almost all of them.

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