16 May 2000 Derivation and word class shifts, in L'Huillier, Advanced French Grammar

presentation of L'Huillier's work, by Corry Shores

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Monique L'Huillier

Advanced French Grammar

1. Framework

1.1 Parts of Speech

1.1.11 Synonyms, homonyms, derivation and word class shifts Derivation and word class shifts

We may use proper or improper derivation to derive a part of speech from another one.

(i) Proper derivation


noun: courage adjective: courageux

verb: conserver noun: conservateur ; adjective: conservateur

verb: aimer adjective: aimable

adjective: beau verb: embellir

adjective: jaune verb: jaunir

The suffixes of such words aid us in distinguishing the different parts of speech.

(ii) Improper derivation


verb: effrayer adjective: effrayant (from present participle)

verb: passer noun: un passant (from present participle)

verb: percevoir adjective: perçu (from past participle)

verb: mourir noun: un mort (from past participle)

verb: devoir noun: un devoir (from infinitive)

adjective: rouge noun: le rouge

A word like this can be a different part of speech, depending on its syntactical context.


Elle porte un pantalon bleu [adj].

She’s wearing bleu trousers.

Je n’aime pas le bleu.

I don’t like (the colour) blue.

L'Huillier, Monique. Advanced French Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
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