Noun genders in French
A noun is a word that represents a person, place, or thing, whether concrete (e.g., chair, dog) or abstract (idea, happiness).
In French, all nouns have a gender - they are either masculine or feminine.
The gender of some nouns makes sense ("homme" [man] is masculine, "femme" [woman] is feminine) but others don't: the words "personne" [person] and "victime" [victim] are always feminine, even when the person or victim is a man.
It is very important to learn a noun's gender along with the noun itself because articles, adjectives, some pronouns, and some verbs have to agree with nouns; that is, they change depending on the gender of the noun they modify.
There is no easy way to determine the gender of every noun, and you have to remember the gender with each word. But a number of patterns in suffixes and word endings are helpful: some tend to indicate masculine or feminine nouns (be careful with the exceptions, that are not listed below).
- -age, for ex: barrage (in English: dam)
- -b, for ex: plomb (in English: lead)
- -ble, for ex: comptable (in English: accountant)
- -c, for ex: porc (in English: pork)
- -cle, for ex: oncle (in English: uncle)
- -d, for ex: pied (in English: foot)
- -de, for ex: hybride (in English: hybrid)
- -é, for ex: carré (in English: square)
- -eau, for ex: manteau (in English: coat)
- -ège, for ex: piège (in English: trap)
- -et, for ex: poulet (in English: chicken)
- -eur, for ex: professeur (in English: teacher)
- -f, for ex: cerf (in English: stag)
- -i, for ex: pari (in English: bet)
- -ing, for ex: planning (in English: planning)
- -isme, for ex: capitalisme (in English: capitalism)
- -k, for ex: tank (in English: tank)
- -l, for ex: fusil (in English: rifle)
- -m, for ex: prénom (in English: first name)
- -me, for ex: synonyme (in English: synonym)
- -ment, for ex: paiement (in English: payment)
- -n, for ex: garçon (in English: boy)
- -o, for ex: zoo (in English: zoo)
- -oir, for ex: couloir (in English: lobby)
- -one, for ex: cyclone (in English: cyclone)
- -ou, for ex: hibou (in English: owl)
- -p, for ex: loup (in English: wolf)
- -r, for ex: char (in English: tank)
- -s, for ex: tapis (in English: carpet)
- -ste, for ex: cycliste (in English: cycler)
- -t, for ex: yacht (in English: yacht)
- -tre, for ex: lustre (in English: ceiling light)
- -u, for ex: aperçu (in English: outline)
- -x, for ex: choix (in English: choice)
- -ace, for ex: face (in English: face)
- -ade, for ex: limonade (in English: limonade)
- -ale, for ex: cathédrale (in English: cathedral)
- -ance, for ex: romance (in English: romance)
- -be, for ex: syllabe (in English: syllable)
- -ce, for ex: force (in English: strength)
- -e, for ex: robe (in English: dress)
- -ée, for ex: soirée (in English: evening/party)
- -esse, for ex: maîtresse (in English: schoolteacher)
- -eur, for ex: chaleur (in English: heat)
- -fe, for ex: carafe (in English: carafe)
- -ie, for ex: poulie (in English: pulley)
- -ière, for ex: fermière (in English: farmer)
- -ine, for ex: piscine (in English: swimming pool)
- -ion, for ex: éducation (in English: education)
- -ique, for ex: logique (in English: logic)
- -ire, for ex: baignoire (in English: bathtub)
- -ise, for ex: franchise (in English: franchise agreement)
- -ite, for ex: bronchite (in English: bronchitis)
- -lle, for ex: fille (in English: girl)
- -mme, for ex: femme (in English: woman)
- -nde, for ex: seconde (in English: second)
- -nne, for ex: nonne (in English: nun)
- -ole, for ex: auréole (in English: halo)
- -se, for ex: course (in English: race)
- -sion, for ex: pression (in English: pressure)
- -son, for ex: maison (in English: house)
- -té, for ex: acidité (in English: acidity)
- -tié, for ex: amitié (in English: friendship)
- -tion, for ex: partition (in English: score)
- -ue, for ex: grue (in English: crane)
- -ule, for ex: particule (in English: particle)
- -ure, for ex: voiture (in English: car)
Merci beaucoup, c'est très utile!
if I am not wrong, when the word ends with an -e or -n, there generally is a 70% chance of it being feminine. Words that end in any other letter are usually masculine (70% chance maybe). But when one really isn't sure, just role the dice using this method, if its wrong, just remember the exception!
I have been checking out your deduction Legend, and was getting a quite extensive list of nouns that were exceptions, etc. So I went back and re-studied Remy's information and I wish to point out a variation - that works out more consistently. Please could you check this out and see if it holds more consistently:
In summary of the endings Remy has pointed out : I have deduced this -
Assume a noun is masculine except for:
Feminine RULE 1: if it ends in "e" AND IS NOT any of the male endings of:
- ~age, i.e. barrage : dam
- ~ble, i.e. comptable : accountant
- ~cle, i.e. oncle : uncle
- ~de, i.e. hybride : hybrid
- ~é, i.e. carré : square
- ~ège, i.e. piège : trap
- ~ste, i.e. cycliste : cyclist
Feminine RULE 2: for "on" endings - it is female if the endings are :
- ~ion, i.e.: éducation : education | pression : pressure | partition : score
- ~son, i.e.: maison : house
So this give me 9 endings to remember, instead of 34 for masculine and 33 for feminine, as I have seen some people recommend. Much more achievable for my mind. :)
I am also wondering if there is a relationship with: ~vre being more often male?
le poivre le livre
I have the most trouble with remembering the gender of nouns so thank you for this list and the fall back hints you've all talked about here.
But I have a suggestion for the Duolingo team, I think it would be extremely helpful if we had some sort of funny/catchy picture to go with the introduction of a new word. For instance there could be a male, a female, and a neutral/normal Duo that is holding or doing something with the new word.
For instance, in my head I see a blue boy Duo holding a really long sandwich up in the air ready to eat it. That would help me remember that it is le/un sandwich.
Another idea I would love for duolingo to adopt for the iPhone app: in the exercise where there are five english words and five french words, and the user has to match them, just add articles to all the nouns. That way people would see the gender when they see the words, and it would help with memorization.