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Masculine/Feminine words aren't specified.

In learning french, I can never tell in the listen-and-type exercises whether the version of, for instance, the, is masculine or feminine. And I'm the translate-to-french exercises, I don't know if I need to make the words masculine or feminine. I am very frustrated. Is there any way to tell the masculine and feminine words apart without having to hover over them or make a guess?

October 31, 2017



Usually you can tell by the ending of a word.

Nouns ending in -age, -èle, -exe, -isme, -oir, -phone, and -scope are usually masculine.

Nouns ending in -ade, -ance, -ence, -esse, -ette, -ie, -ise, -sion, -té, -tion, -trice, -tude, or -ure are usually feminine

But there are irregulars that you have to learn.

Also for nouns that could be either or, Feminine ones usually end in -euse or -ante, while masculine ones end in -eur or -ant For example: Un chanteur (-eur ending, masculine) or La gagnante (-ante ending, feminine)


First of all:

> I can never tell ... whether the version of, for instance, the, is masculine or feminine.

They sound different - they can be differentiated by the vowel.

This is le - /lə/

This is la - /la/

Play them over and over, as many times as you need to, until the difference in sound between them is ingrained in you, because that vowel difference might be, and in many cases is, all that you're left with to distinguish between masculine and feminine.

As to your main point: how do you remember the gender assigned to each noun?

Short answer: Memorize it.

Longer answer: There are some patterns that you can observe throughout the language from which you can devise some helpful rules of thumb, but at the end of the day that's all the patterns are: patterns. Because the assignment of masculine or feminine is not technically predicated on the patterns, we can't really call them "rules", but more often than not you'll be able to correctly predict the gender of a noun.

This page has a fuller list of endings that will usually tip you off to the gender of a noun, but in my experience, here are the big ones to remember:


  • -on, excluding -tion (e.g. le garçon, le médallion, le rayon. EXCEPTIONS: la maison, la façon)

  • -eau, excluding l'eau itself (e.g. le bateau, le réseau, le plateau, le couteau)

  • -ment (e.g. le changement, le roulement, le jugement)

  • -er (e.g. le foyer, le pommier, le cahier, le fermier - if these nouns have a feminine equivalent, it ends in -ère)

  • -eur, if it refers to a profession (e.g. le serveur, le saboteur, le jureur - feminine equivalents end in -euse. Other than a profession can go either way, with masculine nouns like le bonheur and le malheur, but feminine nouns like le chaleur and le fureur.)


  • -tion (e.g. l'action, la nation, la rélaxation, la vexation - I have yet to discover any noun ending in -tion that is not feminine!)

  • -ille (e.g. la ville, la fille, la grenouille)

  • -esse (e.g. l'ivresse, la vitesse, la justesse)

  • -ie (e.g. la boulangerie, la chimie, and also most of the countries like l'Algérie and la Turquie)

  • -e is sort of a crapshoot between masculine and feminine, but if I have to guess I'll usually guess feminine


I have the same problem....


Some masculine and feminine words are different, but some are just slightly different, as in an "e" or something else. However, you can tell by listening to the ends of the words. If they are different, yay! You can tell! But if they are similar, try to look out for a consonant that is pronounced, as in:

Serieux (no x sound or anything)

Serieuse (there is an s sound)


there are patterns, as some of the very good detailed comments here suggest, but unfortunately there are a lot of words where you cannot predict it - you just have to learn it. I am an advanced learner (C1/C2) and I still make mistakes with the gender of words I'm unfamiliar with/use infrequently. Make a point of learning the gender when you learn the word: learn Une/la boisson (a/the drink) and not just 'boisson'. Memrise and tinycards are good apps to use to practice genders, as they often make you state the article with the word

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