Teo ladies posing for wedding photoWe went to see our nieces last week. On the left is Elisa, my belle soeur’s daughter, so my belle niece. On the right is her wife, Marion. This also makes her my belle nièce or even my belle belle nièce. I’m not sure such a thing exists, so we call them our nieces. Everyone can agree they are belle.
I took this picture at their first marriage (I’ll explain later). Marion was pregnant, and they now have an adorable toddler, our petite-nièce. Look carefully at the hand carrying the bouquet. A surgical mask. This marriage happened in the middle of COVID-19, so they married again last summer. Here is a more recent picture.

Two young ladies in wedding dresses

They altered the dresses because, this time, Elisa was pregnant. Last week, we saw the latest addition to their family, mon petit-neveu. Living in France, I have to get used to les accords. Agreements are pretty simple non? La nièce, le petit-neveu, donc ma nièce, mon petit-neveu. Boys and girls are pretty obvious, but the French assign a gender to everything. There is no logic to it. You only have to look at the French male and female body parts (no examples; this is a family blog). When you learn a new noun, learn the article as well. Getting it wrong will instantly identify you as a foreigner.
If you ever crack le et la, you can move on to les accords. Mon petit-neveu, ma petite-nièce. Simples non? Yes and no. When I went to see my daughter, I also saw mes petits-enfants. Enfant is masculine so petit pas petite. If they were all girls, I could say petites-filles, but boys and girls, the boys always win.
I work with une équipe. My work colleagues include men and women. Ils sont sympa. They are very nice. It is une équipe because équipe is feminine. Ils sont sympa because there is at least one man in the team. What if they were all female, like une équipe de rugby feminin? Now I could say mon équipe, elles sont sympa. What? Wait! I just said une équipe, they are all girls, so why say mon? Equipe starts with a vowel, ma ends in one, you can’t put them together. Ask most French why, and they will say c’est comme ça!
A little epilogue. Do you see the sign Vive les mariées? Go to any wedding shop, and the sign will say Vive les mariés. This is because traditionally, weddings are between a man and a woman, and the collective term (sorry ladies) favours the man. This was not the case when our nieces married. Vive les mariées!

  • Vive les mariés Long live the newlyweds.
  • Vive les mariées (When two women marry) Long live the newlyweds
  • Belle soeur Sister-in-law.
  • Belle nièce Niece by marriage.
  • Petite-nièce Grandniece.
  • Petit-neveu Grandnephew.
  • Les accords Grammatical agreements.
  • Petits-enfants. Grandchilden.
  • Petites-filles Granddaughters.
  • Équipe Team.
  • Ils sont sympa They are very nice.
  • Une équipe de rugby feminin. A Women’s rugby team.
  • C’est comme ça! That’s how it is!