Le pluriel des noms composés

French Grammar (see all)

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Le pluriel des noms composés

In compound nouns, verbs, adverbs and pronouns are invariable (we don’t use their plural form).
Un laissez-passer a pass des laissez-passer passes (verb + verb: no agreement)
Un va-et-vient a back-and-forth (movement) des va-et-vient back-and-forth (movements)
Un qu’en dira-t-on a piece of gossip des qu’en dira t-on pieces of gossip (pronouns + verb: no agreement)

Nouns and adjectives, however, do change in the plural.
Un auteur-compositeur an author-composer des auteurs-compositeurs author-composers (noun + noun)
Un cerf-volant a kite des cerfs-volants kites (noun + adjective)
Un court-métrage a short film des courts-métrages short films (adjective + noun)

When a compound noun is made up of verb + noun, the noun can be in the singular or the plural. Both spellings are accepted.
Un porte-serviette a towel rail des porte-serviette or des porte-serviettes towel rails (depending on whether they hold one or several towels)
Un abat-jour a lamp-shade des abat-jour lamp-shades (standard spelling), des abat-jours (alternative spelling)

Exceptions:
•  The term demi (half) is also invariable when used in composite nouns (a word created using multiple words).
Une demi-journée a half-day des demi-journées half-days

•  If the first word in the compound noun ends in -o (for example, anglo-, electro-, etc.) it is invariable.
Un Anglo-Saxon des Anglo-Saxons




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