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How to easily determine the gender of a noun in French?

Image Geralt Pixabay

A noun is a word that names something : a person, an object, a place, ... In French language, one of the first things you should learn is the gender of nouns. It is not always easy to know how to differentiate feminine words  from masculine ones. But don't worry.

In this lesson, I will teach you some strategies to help you easily determine when a French  noun is masculine or feminine.

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1. Why is it so important to learn the gender of French nouns?

Unlike in English, in French a difference is made between feminine and masculine nouns. Should you really bother about it? My answer would be yes if you really want to speak fluently French.


Knowing whether a word is feminine or masculine has an effect on lots of things.

  • The gender will tell you which determiner (article, possessive adjective or demonstrative) to use; it will therefore  avoid you making the mistake of using the wrong determiner.

  • the word gender will indicate which subject pronoun you should use.

  • Nouns gender also has an impact on how to write and pronounce endings of French adjectives and  verbs.

2. How to easily  learn the gender of nouns in French?

The easiest way would be to check in a dictionary. Words gender are generally specified using the letter (m) for masculine and (f) for feminine.

It is sure that this is helpful. However, the problem is you will not always be able to check on a dictionary. Especially when having real-life conversations.

The other option is to learn by heart how to differentiate the female from the masculine. That may sound difficult but luckily there is a strategy you can use to learn easily. You can quickly guess the gender of a noun by observing its endings or by referring to its category and that gives you a real hint!

Gender of noun french.jpg

Image Gerd Altmann Pixabay

3. What are the common endings for masculine and feminine French words?

As announced earlier, one of the strategy to apply if you want to easily remember the gender of French noun, is by paying attention to their endings. Some words endings are most likely masculine or feminine and it works in 90% of the cases.

Common endings of feminine nouns

  • Ence: une compétence, une différence, ...

  • Ance:  la méfiance, la confiance, ...

  • Ette : Une jupette, une casquette, ...

  • Otte : une culotte, une roulotte, ...

  • Esse - asse : une déesse,une tigresse, une classe, une paillasse, ...

  • Ade: une noyade, une promenade, ...

  • Ée: une fée, une bouchée; Exceptions un musée, un lycée

  • Té - tié : la  liberté, l'égaliténe amitié, une inimitié; exceptions : un comité, le paté, ...

  • ion :  une révolution, une division, une immersion

  • Ure - ude  : une lecture, une dictature, une altitude, une solitude

  • elle : une poubelle, une bretelle

  • eur : une lueur, une fleur; exceptions un bonheur, un malheur, ...

  • oi - ois - oie- oix  : une loi, une fois , une voie, une voix; exceptions : le roi, le foi, le bois ...



Common endings of masculine nouns

  • Acle : un obstacle, un spectacle;

  • Age : un orage, un ménage; Exceptions : la plage, la page, la rage, ...

  • Eau - au - o - ot  : un bateau , un tuyau, un vélo, un lot; however the French word Eau itself is water in English and is feminine. as well as words like une moto, or la peau.

  • er or ier: un foyer, un cahier

  • É except those ending withwhich are feminine : le thé, le café

  • Ment : un événement, un déménagement

  • Al : un festival, un journal, un animal, un carnaval

  • ard, art, are :  un pétard,  un rancart; exceptions : une bagarre, la mare, la gare

  • teur : un directeur, un admirateur

  • at : un débat, un éclat

  • Isme -asme : le cyclisme, un sarcasme

Some words can be either masculine or feminine. For instance une artiste/ un artiste/ un promotionnaire/une promotionnaire, un camarade/une camarade, ....

4. Guessing the gender by referring to noun category

Another way to identify noun gender is by learning them by category.

For instance, some words are always masculine. For instance :

  • days of the weekWe say le lundi, le mardi ...

  • seasons: un été, un hiver,...

  • Colors names: le jaune, le rouge,...

  • Metals names: l'or, l'argent

  • Nouns with English origin: Le marketing, le management

  • Languages  le francais, le russe,...

  • Trees names : le manguier,  le pommier,...

5. How much do you know French nouns gender : Practice exercise

If you want to check out how much you know the gender of the nouns, try our  little practice test. In this exercise, You will have to choose the right article to put in front of the noun.

Happy practising!

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