French Language French Grammar: Nouns that are only masculine or only feminine But may refer to both men and women

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Nouns that are only masculine or only feminine, but may refer to both men & women


Nouns in French are either masculine or feminine. Unfortunately, there is no easy rules for predicting the gender of a noun. However, it is not necessary to learn all genders by heart as there are certain models that can be used to predict the genre with varying degrees of accuracy. Be careful to remember that there are always exceptions to these models.

Some nouns that have only one gender refer to jobs or professions for both men and women.

Examples of Masculine Nouns[edit | edit source]

The following nouns are all masculine:

French Masculine Noun Translation
un architecte an architect
un chef a chef
un auteur an author
un compositeur a composer
un ingénieur an engineer
un forçat a convict
un magistrat a magistrate
un juge a judge
un médecin a doctor
un peintre a painter
un sculpteur a sculptor
un professeur a teacher
un témoin a witness
un vampire a vampire

"femme" can be added[edit | edit source]

When these nouns refer to women, to clarify that the profession concerns a woman and not a man, the word "femme" can be added before or after the noun.

Examples[edit | edit source]

  • "un ingénieur femme" & "une femme ingénieur"
  • "un médecin femme" & "une femme médecin"

Pay attention to the use of the masculine article "un" in the first case and the feminine article "une" in the second case.

  • NB: Nowadays the term "une femme ingénieure" and "une femme médecine" are preferred.

Use the context do determine the sex[edit | edit source]

More often, the context makes it possible to determine the sex of the person:

  • Elle est médecin dans une clinique à Paris

She is a doctor in a clinic in Paris

Some titles are only masculine[edit | edit source]

Some titles are only masculine, i.e. le Maire 'the Mayor', le Juge 'the Judge', le Notaire 'the Solicitor', etc. A woman playing this role will be called Madame le Maire, Madame le Juge, etc.

Note[edit | edit source]

This is an area that has generated a lot of controversy. While a few years ago the above list contained writer and lawyer as exclusively masculine terms, nowadays "écrivaine" and "avocate" are preferred.

It is also preferable to use "Madame la maire" or "Madame la mairesse" because the fact of feminizing the language has become a positive development in French society.

Nouns only feminine in gender[edit | edit source]

There are a small number of nouns which are only feminine in gender, but which may refer both to men and women:

  • personne : person.
  • recrue : recruit
  • sentinelle : sentry
  • star/vedette : star (in the entertainment business)
  • victime : victim

Personne[edit | edit source]

  • une personne" meaning "a person" is feminine.
  • "personne" meaning 'nobody' is masculine:

Examples[edit | edit source]

  • Personne n'est venu

Nobody came

  • Cette personne est venue

That person came

Gender of Nouns (all lessons)[edit source]

Other Chapters[edit | edit source]

Table of Contents



Personal and impersonal pronouns



Numbers, measurements, time and quantifiers

Verb forms

Verb constructions

Verb and participle agreement


The subjunctive, modal verbs, exclamatives and imperatives

The infinitive


Question formation

Relative clauses


Conjunctions and other linking constructions

Source: Amazon



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