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What you describe is a bit ambiguous:
- "un" and "une" translate to "a" when the next word starts with a consonant sound: un père (masc), une mère (fem) = a father, a mother
- "un" and "une" translate to "an" when the next word starts with a vowel sound: un œuf (masc), une orange (fem) = an egg, an orange
There are no categories per se, only trends but you would also have to learn the trends and their exceptions.
Living beings often have a masculine and a feminine versions: "un chat" is male and "une chatte" is female.
All other nouns of things have a gender which usually comes from their Latin or Greek roots, so the only way to learn genders is to learn every new noun together with its article, as follows:
- orange = [une orange], as if "une" were a prefix. You may then remember it next time you need to translate "orange" to French.
If you did not see the noun before, you may be wrong the first time you translate the English "an orange" to the French "une orange". But then, you know it is feminine and you will need to memorize the noun together with its gender, like this:
- orange = [une orange], as if it were a prefix. So, next time you need this word, you will know it is feminine.