Gender of abbreviations

Are genders of abbreviations based on the actual name? For instance, ANR is Agence Nationale de la Recherche. Or CCNE is Comité Consultatif National d'Ethique. How would I use le/la in front of the abbreviations such as these? Just based on the first word of the actual name, like the first case being L'ANR and second case being Le CCNE?

October 28, 2016


Yes, the gender doesn't change when your abbreviate.

Same goes for number. We say Les USA.

October 28, 2016

You will have to know what the acronym stands for to identify the main noun:

  • LE Comité Consultatif national d'Ethique / le CCNE
  • L' (= la) Agence Nationale de la Recherche / l'ANR
  • L' (= la) Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord / l'OTAN (NATO)
  • UN Objet Volant Non Identifié / un OVNI (UFO)

When the abbreviation is in English, you will use the 'most probable' gender that the French will give the main noun:

  • LA BBC: corporation also exists in French and it is feminine.

Some are deceptive:

  • LE Benelux (= BElgië, NEderland, LUxembourg) has the gender of "le Luxembourg", because Belgium and the Netherlands are in their original, own languages.
October 28, 2016

At least that's how those two organisations call themselves. However, I should say that the gender is most likely (I'm not a native) determined by the main word (Le comité, L'agence) rather than simply the first, the French word order just means it's very likely that the first word is the main word. Since I see you have experimented with Spanish, I'll mention La RAE (Real Academia Española ) which shows how the (only) noun is in the middle.

October 28, 2016
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