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(French) Anyone have any tips on noun genders?

I'm currently learning French in school and on Duolingo and I still struggle at times to know when to put "le" "la" "un" "une" and so on.

Examples of what I know:

Elle mange -la- pomme. Il es -un- homme.

How can I remember for other words such as phone, bottle, lamp, etc?

November 15, 2017



Well... Uh... I'm French, but I dunno how can I explain this. Ya should probably learn words with the article, just like in German.


You'll eventually start picking up on some patterns--a lot of words that end in "e" are feminine, that kind of thing. And of course, anything referring to a male person takes "le/un" and females get "la/une."

That being said, it is legitimately random beyond a point. You get better at guessing with practice but if you're just starting out, your best bet is to memorize. Make sure you include gender/articles on flashcards if/when you make them so you study the gender alongside the word.


I agree with oinkylingo. There's not much of a way to work around learning/remembering the genders of nouns. You sort of have to remember them with the appropriate articles. French words that typically end in "elle", "ere", or "e" (I would not particularly rely on the "e" rule all of the time) are feminine, so the articles for them are "la" and "une". Masculine words usually end in "eau", "eur", or no "e" (again, the "e" rule is a stretch that loosely apply to some words but not all), so the articles for them are "le" or "un". These rules don't always work and should not be heavily relied on, going back to the point that you should try to remember the words with the articles.

I'm sure there are other ways to distinguish genders of words if you just don't know, but I don't know how significant of a mistake it would be if you were writing/speaking and you communicated the wrong gender of a noun or the wrong gender of an article to a native French speaker. From what I was taught, the comprehensiveness of what you're conveying is more important than small details, such as genders.


Nouns don't need to nonsense

It has links to all sorts of other information as well.


I use a visual image to learn the gender of each new word.

Pick something that feels masculine (car mechanic) or feminine (perfume) and picture it with the new word as you learn them. I seem to remember visually so it's easier for me than simply LE or LA.

Eventually, one will sound/feel 'right' and the other will feel wrong.

Good luck.

For example, you mention 'lamp'. To me that's a lamp covered by a scarf with some perfume = la lampe / une lampe


It get's much better with time. I was concerned about this as well when I started. After a while I had memorized enough words it wasn't an issue. Then I realized how much the language is trying to reinforce the gender even if you don't see a "la" or "le" in sight because of all the other agreements.

If you just want to cheat here's a paper that will get you 80% of the way there for the whole language and 90% for a given set of word endings.

Paper - (edit; McGill University has changed their search engine). * http://digitool.Library.McGill.CA:80/R and search for "Predictability in French gender attribution: A corpus analysis"

Blog Post where I found this with a nice summary * https://frenchtogether.com/french-nouns-gender/

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