French learners, are you ready for a new word? This week’s blog takes a look at the adjective and noun premier. Listen to the audio clip below to hear its pronunciation:
When it comes to translating this word, at first you might think it means the same as the English word ‘premier’. In English, this adjective describes something or someone who is the ‘most important’, or ‘the best’. As a noun, it is sometimes used as a synonym for ‘prime minister’. However, the most common meaning of the adjective premier in French is in fact first.
As premier is an adjective, you’ll notice some spelling changes depending on the noun it describes. This is called adjectival agreement. You might see it written as:
- première, its feminine singular form
- premiers, its masculine plural form
- premières, its feminine plural form
If you need a reminder on what adjectives are all about, visit our Easy Learning French Grammar section on adjectives.
Now that we’ve got most of the grammar out of the way, let’s move on to study some examples:
le premier jour the first day
les trois premières semaines the first three weeks
au premier étage on the first floor
La première fois qu’on s’est rencontrés, j’avais vingt ans. The first time we met, I was twenty years old.
J’ai vendu la bague de mon premier mariage. I sold the ring from my first marriage.
Si vous cherchez l’office du tourisme, il faut prendre la première rue à droite. If you’re looking for the tourist information centre, take the first street on the right.
au premier abord at first sight
au premier plan at the forefront
en premier lieu first of all; firstly
faire le premier pas to make the first move; to take the first steps
As mentioned, sometimes premier and première are used as nouns rather than adjectives. Bear in mind that the gender of the noun is important when trying to work out the best English translations. Here are a few examples of the different translations that might be given for the nouns premier and première:
« Quel jour arriverez-vous ? » « Le premier juin. » “What day will you arrive?” “The first of June.”
C’était incroyable ! Nous avons voyagé en première. It was incredible! We travelled first class.
Je crois que la boîte de vitesse est cassée. J’ai du mal à passer en première. I think the gearbox is broken. I’m struggling to get it into first gear.
Mes frères sont les tout premiers de notre famille d’étudier à l’université. My brothers are the very first ones in our family to study at university.
We hope that our word of the week has offered some valuable insight in your journey to learning French. It’s certainly not the first interesting word we’re here to share with you, and certainly won’t be the last!
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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