1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. Gender memorization


Gender memorization

I was just wondering how prominent a certain method of learning word genders is among all of you and for those that know, among most language learners. I have been taking each word and creating a crazy vision in my head to associate it with its gender. Which isn't very good because it basically ends up being the thing being used by a man or woman which is pretty arbitrary. Like piscine (fem - pool) in French, I just imagine a pretty bikini clad woman tanning next to a pool. Now however inclined I may be to imagine a bikini clad woman, when you consider many of the words whos gender doesn't make sense, like beer is feminine and wine is masculine?, in a month when I think what is the gender of piscine why couldn't it have been a man tanning. Again arbitrary.

I've been told a popular way to learn the gender of words is to not learn the words themselves, but learn them with their article. So your not remembering piscine, but la piscine and then the article tells you gender. So I'd like to know how effective this method is because I have gone pretty far in my French language learning to turn around and relearn everything. I think I have around 870 words "learned"! Also another thing I've done is make lists of adjective, adverbs, nouns, prepositions..... all on either white paper for neutral words, pink for feminine words, and blue for masculine words, to try and help remember the genders. So again I'd like to know how effective the article method is if I'm to decide to throw away all that work I've done and start making lists with articles attached.

Thanks in advance.

August 23, 2013



The article method is kind of helpful because you end up writing it before you even have time to think, but if you want to use the mnemonic method you need more striking images. I can remember the genders very easily but it comes with it's downsides. I can never eat oranges without feeling sick. :-(


Why? what sort of demonic gender are your oranges?!!

  • 1309

My advice to you would be to forge ahead with your Spanish as genders are easier to remember than in French . I started learning French first and did not start Spanish until much later . Genders of nouns are generally consistent across both languages so if I am doubtful about a French gender I think of the Spanish equivalent and generally this is the same gender. For example in Spanish beer is la cerverza -easy to remember because it ends in a -this helps with French ,la bière ,also la piscina corresponds to la piscine. Another one I find helpful is that in Spanish words ending in -dad tend to be feminine and those ending in -ma masculine (opposite to nature's mums and dads !!!) - The truth in Spanish is la verdad (in French - la vérité ) the system el sistema (le système ) etc. Words ending in -ion in both languages tend to be feminine (with the main exceptions of le camion (el camion) and l'avion (el avion) . Examples being l'action (la acción) , la corruption (la corrupción), la manifestation (la manifestación) etc I'm sure there will be exceptions to these hints and would recommend you look up some grammar sites for both languages for a more in depth discussion but I have found them useful to fall back on on several occasions.


Unfortunately there's no single way our minds work.so I feel you have to sit back and ask yourself whether the girl by the pool is more suited to your brain or if "la piscine" feels like something your brain can assimilate. I think I learn by the latter method - just tonight I asked my boyfriend if "the song" was "la canzone" and I don't think for me a girl singing a song would help. I feel I must just accept those words as natural and wait for my instincts to catch up.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.