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French genders

How do you know what gender the nouns are in French? Do they just have to be memorized? Are there any tricks to figuring out which gender corresponds to each noun? Thanks

July 5, 2017



There is no simple way to know the gender of a French noun, but there are some general guidelines that help.

All words ending in tion (la nation, la composition, la position) are feminine except the word bastion. Furthermore, words ending in ion are also feminine except un avion, un billion, un camion, un cation, un dominion, un espion, un ion, un lampion, un lion, un million, le morpion, un pion, un scion, un scorpion, un trillion

Certain entire categories are masculine: months, days, seasons, colors, cheeses, wines.

all French nouns ending in me (but not nouns ending in mme) are masculine except: une alarme, une âme, une arme, la cime, la coutume, la crème, l'écume, une énigme, une estime, une ferme, une firme, une forme, une larme, une plume, une rame, une rime

whereas all words ending in mme are feminine except: un dilemme, un gramme, un programme

Compound nouns and nouns from foreign languages are almost always masculine (le rendez-vous, le lave-vaisselle, le parking, le shopping, le footing). 
 If the major noun of a compound noun is feminine, the word will also be feminine (une demi-heure, la boucle d'oreille).

Nouns from infinitives are masculine (Le rire est bon pour la santé. - Laughter is good for the health. / le coucher – bedtime, sunset)

Almost all nouns made from adjectives are masculine (le russe, le français, l'intérieur). Exceptions are la gauche et la droite

eur is a common (but not exclusive) masculine ending applying mainly to names of professions and mechanical and scientific things (le téléviseur, le cœur, le tracteur, le moteur) and a few are abstract concepts (le bonheur, l'honneur).

euse is a common feminine ending

all nouns ending in esse are feminine

All French nouns ending in ée are feminine (l’araignée (the spider), l’épée (the sword)une cuillérée (spoonful), une assiettée (plateful), etc. except:

un lycée
un musée
le trophée
le prytanée
le mausolée


Merci! It's a lot to remember, but still helpful


Personally, I just memorise the words and which gender they are.


I don't speak the language fluently and I am currently focusing on my spanish, but I've noticed while I was learning french that most nouns that are feminine end with an E (la femme, la chaise etc.)


You really just have to memorize it. But if something ends with an "e", it's generally a feminine word. =)


Well, I just used memorization. However, after listening to a lot of French, you can start telling which words are feminine or masculine. Practice makes perfect.


This question generates lots of conflicting answers because it's somewhere between mesmerising and how each noun sounds (like using "a" vs "an" in English). For example, a common "rule" people bring up is that things ending with "e" are feminine. This falls apart with "tre", "eme", "taire", "age", "sme" and "ome" endings. The best advice I can give is you will pick up patterns and rules of thumb with enough exposure. If you really want a cheat sheet then the link below is the comprehensive version of the "e = feminine" rule.


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