La soupe aux choux is a classic French movie and let’s use this title for our Happy learning today!
Let’s talk about the nouns ending in “ou” and their plural form.
The rule is:
ALL singular noun will turn into plural by adding an “s”. It is the case in English, it is the same in French.
BUT, as you know, every rule has its exception.
THE FOLLOWING NOUNS ENDING IN”OU” WILL HAVE A PLURAL FORM AS “OUX” AND NOT “OUS”
If a word ends in “ou” and is not part of the exception list, its plural will be “ous”
ie: un clou // des clous
Which are these exceptions “ou” nouns?
- bijou ( jewllery)
- caillou ( little stone)
- chou ( cauliflower) – a chouchou is also
- genou ( knee)
- hibou ( howl)
- joujou ( toy) – to play with toy = faire joujou ( it is an familiar expression)
- pou (nit)
- ripou ( it is a made up word! if you invert the syllables it makes pou -ri = rotten. It is a word from another famous comedie movie entitled “les ripoux” – which portrait the misadventures of two dirty cops)
The Academie Française ( the authority supervising, changing, elaborating etc.. the French language) added “ripou” to the list of the word ending by “ou” exceptions. One could think why the decision wasn’t made to add an “s” for plural and not make an exception out of it?
Note (1): these 8 nouns are MASCULIN.
un bijou, un caillou, un chou, un genou, un hibou, un joujou, un pou, un ripou
Note (1): They are NOUNS ( NOT adjectives)
Adjectives in “oux” are words that convert to a feminine and here ( re these “ou” word-ending) will keep the singular orthographic form when used as plural.
ie: Il est doux ( he is sweet) – Elle est douce ( she is sweet) – Ils sont doux – elles sont douces
As it is easier to learn of by heart the exceptions than to go back to the etymological explanation that refers to the origin of these words, we are told this sentence:
Viens mon petit chou sur mes genoux, ne fais pas joujou avec mes bijoux, jette plutôt des cailloux à ce vieux hibou plein de poux.
( Come my little cutey on my knees, don’t play with my jewelry, rather throw stone to that old howl full of nits. ) – Its sounds much better in French!