French word of the week: moyen

Welcome back to our French word of the week blog. This week, we’re going to look closely at the word moyen.

Listen to the audio to hear how to pronounce it:

Moyen is an adjective – a describing word. To remind yourself exactly what this means, see our Easy Learning French Grammar pages on adjectives. Its masculine forms are moyen and moyens. Its feminine forms are moyenne and moyennes.

You’re likely to see the masculine form a lot more regularly, because this spelling is also a noun – le moyen – which we also use often as a plural noun – les moyens. But enough about grammar: what does the word even mean?

Firstly, we will investigate how we can use it as an adjective. In this case, it is usually translated as average, middle or medium:

Il est de taille moyenne. He’s of average height.

Vous voulez quelle taille de bouteille ? – Taille moyenne, s’il vous plaît. Which size of bottle would you like? – Medium, please.

Nous n’avons pas beaucoup aimé le repas. Il était moyen. We didn’t enjoy the meal much. It was average.

Jean et Patrice sont moyens en mathématiques. Jean and Patrice are both average at maths.

cadre moyen middle management

le Moyen Âge the Middle Ages

âge moyen average age

Selon les sondages, l’âge moyen des électeurs est de 38 ans. According to the surveys, the average age of voters is 38.

Now we can move on to how and when we might use moyen as a noun. In this case, its translation changes to way, method or means.

As it’s a masculine noun, you might see it with un, le, au, or du. But it can be treated as a plural or a singular noun, which means you might also spot it alongside des, les or aux. If you need a refresher, check out our grammar information about articles and prepositions in French.

moyen de communication means of communication

au moyen de by means of; by using

Vous préférez quel moyen de paiement ? Which payment method do you prefer?

Nous allons trouver ton collier. Par tous les moyens, nous allons le trouver. We’re going to find your necklace. By any means possible, we are going to find it.

Like the English equivalent word means, the plural noun moyens has an additional sense in French for talking about funding or resources. This is usually in reference to financial resources:

avoir les moyens to have the means

Combien ?! Mais non, je n’ai pas les moyens d’en acheter. How much?! No way, I can’t afford to buy it.

Well done on getting another tricky French word under your belt. You’re certainly going to be better than average soon!

Written by Holly Tarbet, freelance copywriter and editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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