French Language French Grammar: «Gender»

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How to Guess the Gender of French Nouns? You often ask yourself as a French learner which nouns are feminine or masculine. Gender of nouns do not have to be learnt by heart.

French genders are important: You can’t master French if you don’t know French genders. Luckily, the use of French genders is pretty simple, even if your language doesn’t use genders for nouns.

Firstly, you need to know that the gender has an influence on:

  • The article used before a noun
  • Pronouns
  • The ending of adjectives and verbs

Articles[edit | edit source]

In French, you have a masculine article ("le") and a feminine article ("la") :

  • La voiture = The car
  • Le chien = The dog

Similarly, you have a masculine "un" and a feminine "une".

  • Une maison = A house
  • Un avion = A plane

You also need to make the difference between “du” (masculine) and “de la” (feminine) :

  • De la farine = Some flour
  • Du pain = Some bread

Pronouns[edit | edit source]

Pronouns change depending on the subject’s gender.

  • Il = He
  • Elle = She

They are two ways to say “they”.

  • Elles (feminine subject) = They
  • Ils (masculine subject) = They

Adjectives[edit | edit source]

French adjectives change based on the gender and number of the noun they modify.

Here are several adjectives as examples:

Grand (tall)

  • Masculine singular: grand
  • Feminine singular: grande
  • Masculine plural: grands
  • Feminine plural: grandes

There are exceptions, but if you know these patterns, you’ll know how most adjectives change based on the gender of the noun.

Verbs[edit | edit source]

The "passé composé" tense is the best example of the influence of genders on conjugation.

  • Je suis allé (I am a boy)
  • Je suis allée (I am a girl)
  • Il est allé
  • Elle est allée
  • Nous sommes allés (There are boys in our group)
  • Nous sommes allées (We are only girls)
  • Ils sont allés
  • Elles sont allées

Associate each gender with an image[edit | edit source]

It can be smart to associate each gender with an action in your brain.

The association needs to be personal, this must be something you will easily remember. For example, If you love colors, you could imagine each word with a different color depending on its gender.

Guess the gender based on the word’s ending[edit | edit source]

Very often, a noun’s ending indicates its gender in the majority of cases.

Write these endings in your notebook, don't learn them by heart as it would be boring.

After a while, you will see that you can easily guess the gender of a noun.

Feminine noun endings[edit | edit source]

The majority of words that end in "e" or "ion" except words ending in "age", "ege", "é", or "isme"

Masculine noun endings[edit | edit source]

Most words with other endings are masculine.

VIDEOS[edit | edit source]


What about you? How do you guess the gender of new nouns? Please share your comments or directely edit this article!

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