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spelling possible in French

French spelling: le plus, le moins de choses possible or possibles?

by | 30 Jun 2018 | French Language

 

If you are learning French, of course, you try to speak with the fewest possible mistakes. In French, you could say: “Je veux faire le moins de fautes possible”… or “possibles”? 

 

Which is the correct spelling? Of course, you have learnt that French adjectives can be feminine or masculine, singular or plural, depending on the noun that they describe. Possible is one of these adjectives where the masculine and the feminine are similar. But do you know whether you should add an S or not? 

 

Let’s look at the following examples:

 

  • Nous avons planté le plus de légumes possible. (We planted as many vegetables as we possibly could)
  • Nous voulons tous faire le moins d’erreurs possible. (We all want to make the fewest possible mistakes)

 

In these sentences, possible complements the superlative form le plus de or le moins de. It may be clearer when the change the order of the words: 

  • Nous avons planté le plus possible de légumes.
  • Nous voulons tous faire le moins possible d’erreurs.

 

What do you notice?

Possible is used in the singular when it follows a superlative (le plus / le moins) + a noun, even when that noun is plural. 

 

Note that you can change the order of the words :

  • On nous conseille de consommer le plus possible de fruits. 
  • On nous conseille de consommer le plus de fruits possible.

In both sentences, possible remains singular because we used the superlative phrase  le plus de.

 

Careful! When the adjective possible follows a plural article (les) and another adjective in the plural, or when there simply isn’t any superlative construction in the sentence, then possible must agree with and take an S

  • Il préfère acheter les cerises les moins grosses possibles. (note the plural article les and adjective grosses: possibles agrees and takes an S)
  • Elle veut passer des vacances les plus reposantes possibles. (note the plural article les and adjective reposantes: possibles agrees and takes an S)
  • Je crois qu’ils ont déjà essayé toutes les formules possibles. (note there is no superlative in this sentence, write possibles with an s to agree with les formules)
  • Il faudrait envisager toutes les solutions possibles. (again, no superlative, hence the agreement with les solutions)

 

Memo

le plus / le moins de + possible + plural noun → possible is singular

le plus / le moins de + plural noun + possible → possible is singular

In any other case: possible must agree with the noun it describes.

 

Ready? Give it a try! 😀 (and share your score in the comments if you like)

 

There you are! You now know whether to add an s or not when you write the adjective possible. Congratulations! 😉

 

N.B. Some grammar books explain that in some cases, both singular and plural are acceptable but then recommend to use one option specifically. To avoid any unnecessary confusion, I chose not to mention those other options. 

 

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