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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YotamGubbay

How can you tell the gender of an obscure place?

If there is a place name that is very obscure, and perhaps has never been written about in French, is there a way to try and predict the proper gender, or should a gender just be picked at random and stuck with?

October 28, 2018

11 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dondy18

Names of countries ending in e except le Mexique are feminine. Countries ending in any other letter than e are masculine. A brand new country would follow the same rule.

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dondy18

Whoops - since my mother's paper text book was printed in 1944 some other exceptions have been added: le Belize (Belize) le Mexique (Mexico) le Mozambique (Republic of Mozambique) le Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe) le Zaïre (Republic of Zaire) le Cambodge (Cambodia)

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Camilla-danesa

Dondy18, thank you for the helpful rule, and I just love that you found it in your mother's textbook from 1944, and that you're also telling us about more recent updates! This made my day! :-)

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scarcerer

Added and removed. Le Zaïre is nowadays known as la république démocratique du Congo.

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackHorne

What about an obscure town or area?

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scarcerer

My guess is that it is the same as with verbs, the more obscure it is to the French, the more likely it is to follow the rules (so -e = feminine etc.). If no one ever mentions the place, no one is going to remember that it should be an exception and they will assign a regular gender for it.

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dondy18

Now, can anyone tell me why le Mexique is masculine??

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dondy18

La Belgique is feminine so it's not the -que ending.

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_M_M_.

Probably because "México" in Spanish is masculine (even though they don't use gender for countries as much as French does).

October 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeaSun

It is because of all this gender business that I have totally gone off learning French!! A chair is a chair... it doesn't have a vagina!! Good luck :)

October 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WitlessBittern

Despite having studied enough of the Romance languages to have eventually bought into the system, this comment made my morning. Cheers.

October 29, 2018
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