Gender of an "airport" in French...
Can someone explain why is Duolingo saying that airport is FEMININE even though the entire internet is claiming it to be MASCULINE? Duolingo says that I should have used "à la" instead of "au" before the word "aéroport" because it's feminine. Am I missing something here? Do words in french have both genders?
According to LaRousse and the AF it is masculine.
But that is not the problem in this case, you should use "à l'aéroport" not because it is feminine or masculine, but because it begins with a vowel.
à l'aéroport (aéroport is masculine and begins with a vowel)
à l'école (école is feminine and begins with a vowel)
au supermarché (supermarché is masculine and begins with a consonant)
à la boulangerie (boulangerie is feminine and begins with a consonant)
Lrtward, Duo does not explicitly say that aeroport is feminine, but what it does do, when you don't use the correct article, is tell you to pay attention to the gender. It can be confusing, like in Italian when I accidentally use il where I should use lo. They're both masculine articles, but it tells me the gender is wrong. (I don't do that nearly as much as I used to.)
That's a separate problem. It is the "irrelevant tips" problem that many people complain about. It doesn't happen in every course--I have never seen the "tips" in Arabic or Catalan, for example--but they're frequent and very distracting in the French course.
It's not really saying that aéroport is feminine. (In fact, I've never encountered any "tip" that uses the example in question. It probably said something like "Hey kids, chaussure is a feminine noun so be sure to say La Chaussure instead of Le Chaussure." Then it gives you a two-option quiz: __ robe est bleue A. Le B. La) It is merely giving accurate, but totally irrelevant and somewhat confusing, advice. Geimle put it best in this thread: "It's like being told to dry the dishes before putting them in the cupboard after you've crashed the car into a tree."
It's simple. It's a matter of phonological harmony.
Although aéroport is masculine, Au aéroport would sound odd and ugly in French, as a vowel is never followed by another vowel. Therefore the correct answer is à l'aéroport.
That's the reason why you say il a, elle a whereas a il ?, a elle ? is incorrect (you must add a "t" between the verb and the pronoun. Thus it's a-t-il…?, a-t-elle…?).
Don't forget that in french "aero-" is pronounced differently to english - that's part of the reason there is accent over the e - so it's more like "a-ero". When you put the "l'" in front (for the) it SOUNDS like "la_eroport" but is really l(e) a-eroport. In any case, un port (port or harbour - with a silent "t") is masculine; une porte (door or gate - with "t" pronounced) is feminine.