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🅶 Noms masculins ou féminins – Masculine or feminine nouns

Comment connaître le genre des noms français ? Existe-t-il un moyen de deviner si un nom est masculin ou féminin ?


How to know the gender of French nouns? Is there a way to guess if a noun is masculine or feminine?

masculine and feminine in french

A1

Grammar

25 minutes

Écrit par / Written by: Anthony Lucas

Dernière révision / Last update: 10 April 2024

While in English, a word is not identified as feminine or masculine, in French every noun has a gender. In order to speak French correctly, you will have to learn the gender of every noun. But take it easy 🙂 If you are wrong, most of the time French people will still understand what you mean if you pronounce the noun correctly and with the help of the context.


One important thing to understand when learning French is the notion of masculine and feminine. In the French language, every thing is either masculine or feminine. I mean, every item has a gender. In English, you talk about the word table. A table is not female nor male. Well, in English perhaps, but in French a table is a female, or I’d rather say a feminine word.

Explications grammaticales de base pour connaitre le genre des noms – Basic grammatical explanations to know the gender of French nouns

L’importance d’apprendre l’article avec le nom – The importance of learning the article with the noun

Most of the time, when a noun is pronounced, it will come with an article like le or la. for instance. In the case of the word table, you can guess that it is feminine with the article une or la coming before the word table. If a noun is masculine, we use the article un, or any other article in the masculine version, in front of the noun. We say for example un téléphone (a phone). It is quite important to know the gender of French nouns because all the words associated with the nouns will adapt to the gender. The article will be feminine or masculine according to the gender of the noun.

Les adjectifs aussi ont une version masculine et féminine – Adjectives also have masculine and feminine versions

The adjectives related to the nouns also change accordingly to the gender of the French nouns.

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
une petite tablea small table
un petit téléphonea small phone

As you can see, the adjective small has a masculine and a feminine versions (petit and petite). The pronunciation of the adjective in that case, and quite often, is different. If you want to speak correct French, then you have to know if a noun is masculine or feminine.

Ce que nous avons appris jusqu’à présent – What we have learnt so far

  • a French noun is either masculine or feminine
  • you can figure out the gender of French nouns by looking at the article before the noun (most of the time)

Have a look at the lesson about the definite and indefinite articles

  • the words related to the nouns become feminine or masculine, according to the gender of the nouns
  • not only the spelling of some words can change depending if they are masculine or feminine but the pronunciation can be different as well (petitpetite , unune)
Knowing the gender of French nouns can be hard

Existe-t-il un moyen de connaître le genre des noms français ? – Is there a way to know the gender of French nouns?

Apprend l’article avec le nom – Learn the article with the noun

Sorry, there is no magic trick to know the gender of French nouns. 😔 My best advice is to learn every new noun with the article coming before the noun. So, if you learn the word ordinateur in French, which means computer, it is important to learn how to say in French a computer. a computer is a male in French 😛, we say un ordinateur.

Masculine articles are un (a) or le (the). Feminine articles are une (a) or la (the).

Des catégories de noms selon les lettres finales – Noun categories based on the final letters

However, there is a list of rules, categorising nouns depending on the ending of the words. It can help to know these categories even though this is not an exact science, meaning it can help you to guess but for almost every category, there are exceptions. At least if you have no clue about the gender of French nouns, it will give you a lead 😉.

⚠️ If a noun ends with the letter “e“, it doesn’t mean it is feminine. ⚠️

Terminaisons qui aident à deviner que le genre est masculin – Endings that help you guess that the gender of French nouns is masculine

These noun endings should help you guess the gender of French nouns when they are masculine.

Les noms qui terminent en -age – Nouns ending in -age

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
le couragethe courage
le partagethe sharing

Les noms qui terminent en -isme – Nouns ending in -isme

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
le capitalismethe capitalism
le socialismethe socialism

Les noms qui terminent en -ment – Nouns ending is -ment

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
le développementthe development
un momenta moment

Les noms qui terminent en -eau – Nouns ending in -eau

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
un bateau ⛵️a boat
un chapeau 🎩a hat

Les noms qui terminent en -phone – Nouns ending in -phone

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
un téléphone ☎️a phone
un saxophone 🎷a saxophone

Les noms qui terminent en -scope – Nouns ending in -scope

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
le télescope 🔭the telescope
le microscope 🔬the microscope

Terminaisons qui aident à deviner que le genre est féminin – Endings that help you guess that the gender of French nouns is feminine

After watching this video, thanks to Paul Taylor, you should remember that the word “eau” (water) in French is feminine 😂

These noun endings should help you guess the gender of French nouns when they are feminine.

Les noms qui terminent en -té – Nouns ending in -té

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la beauté 💄the beauty
la santé 🩺the health

Les noms qui terminent en -tion – Nouns ending in -tion

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la communication 📡the communication
l’informationthe information

Les noms qui terminent en -ade – Nouns ending in -ade

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
une promenadea walk
une salade 🥗a salad

Les noms qui terminent en -ie – Nouns ending in -ie

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la philosophiephilosophy
la vielife

Les noms qui terminent en -ure – Nouns ending in -ure

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
une lecturea reading
la voiture 🚙the car

Les noms qui terminent en -ance – Nouns ending in -ance

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
l’indépendancethe independence
la chance 🍀luck

Les noms qui terminent en -ence – Nouns ending in -ence

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
une différencea difference
la démence 🤪insanity

Les noms qui terminent en -sion – Nouns ending in -sion

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
l’expansionexpansion
une illusionan illusion

Les noms qui terminent en -ette – Nouns ending in -ette

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la sonnette 🛎the doorbell
une fourchettea fork

Les noms qui terminent en -ude – Nouns ending in -ude

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la solitudeloneliness
une étudea study

Les noms qui terminent en -ère / -erre – Nouns ending in ère / -erre

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la lumière 💡the light
la terre 🌍the earth

Les noms qui terminent en -elle – Nouns ending in elle

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la poubelle 🗑the bin
une hirondellea swallow

Les noms qui terminent en -esse – Nouns ending in esse

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la paresselaziness
la tendressetenderness

Les noms qui terminent en -oie / -oix – Nouns ending in -oie / -oix

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la voixthe voice
la joiejoy

Les noms qui terminent en -ille – Nouns ending in ille

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la famillethe family
une grenouille 🐸a frog

Les noms qui terminent en ue – Nouns ending in -ue

🇫🇷 French🇬🇧 English
la ruethe street
la vuethe view

À RETENIR

WORTH REMEMBERING

Knowing if a noun is masculine or feminine is important in French because all the words around the word will have as well a masculine or feminine version.

But don’t worry 🧘🏾, as a beginner your objective is NOT to speak perfectly. Instead, your objective is to be understood. And the good news is French people will understand you most of the time even if you are wrong about the gender of a noun.

So this lesson gives you hints and could help you with this gender thing 😅

My best advice is: when you learn a new noun, learn it with the article before

➡️ e.g. learn la pomme instead of pomme, so you will remember that une pomme is a (pink?) lady 😁

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