https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bnbnb2

How do you memorize gender in French?

When I learn german, I memorize them together with definite articles (For example, der Hund, das Mädchen, die Suppe). But I came to realize that it is hardly applied to french, as its pronounce of definite article is similar (le, la) and even some has same pronounce (For example, l'homme and l'orange)! Can you help me memorizing genders....

June 7, 2015

31 Comments


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

You can try with indefinite article un and une (no similar problem to l' case).


le and la aren't really similar to me.

June 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bnbnb2

but the pronounce of un and une is same

June 7, 2015

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

No, not at all. ;)

But neither are le and la :

  • le -> /lə/
  • la -> /la/
June 7, 2015

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

You are getting downvoted which I think is unfair. It is common for learners to find it difficult to hear the differences between certain words but it is very important to learn this. That's why I think there is even more reason to remember the words with the article because initially it will help you hear the difference between the two somewhat similar sounds of "Le" and "La" or "Un" or "Une". If you want you can use the possessive adjectives, eg: "Mon livre est dans ma voiture". However you will be messed up by words with initial vowels since they use "Mon" regardless of gender.

Hearing the difference between "Un" and "Une" just takes a bit of practice, it is quite easy really. There are apparently 17 different vowel sounds in French and I can only hear about 12 different ones. Hopefully I'll get there eventually. =)

People have given you some rules of thumb for guessing the gender of a word, however I think there are so many exceptions that this isn't a good substitute for raw memorisation. Also, if you are speaking, having to think about the spelling and then remember the general rules to determine the gender is really going to slow you down.

June 8, 2015

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

As my professors of French used to say to me in (French) schools (I'm French) speaking about grammar rules:

Comme toute règle, cette règle vient a des exceptions"

and even sometimes

"... et des exceptions aux exceptions".

;)

June 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-TashaJ-

Pronunciation of 'un' is just 'un', but 'une' is pronounced like 'oo-n'.

June 7, 2015

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

une is an open u sound and un is a closed almost uh sound

June 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Beatles-Musician

It's sounds very vague, but I do it like that: I just read and speak it and think that it sounds natural. E. g. "la fille". I instantly say to myself that it would sound akward to have it "le fille", with a little akwardness one can now "feel" genders, you will get a feeling for that.

June 7, 2015

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

Depending on how your brain works, you can try to remember at least some by making associations - the sillier the better.

For instance, imagine a man (masculine, of course) and a woman (feminine) sitting at separate dinner tables.

  • In front of the man is a meal consisting of lemons, beans and onions, served with wine, followed by cheese, then coffee or tea with milk and sugar (all masculine).

  • The woman is enjoying her meal of tomato tart, French fries and carrots, served with beer, followed by a dessert of bananas, strawberries and cream (all feminine).

The waiter then comes along and takes away the man's table and chair (both feminine), forcing him to sit on the floor.

At the end of the meal, the woman gets to drive home in her car, whereas the man must take a taxi.

Invent a similar scenario for clothes.

This is a game you can play with a group of young children, giving them a real object to hand to another boy or girl in the class.

June 7, 2015

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

In school, I was taught the following.

Masculine nouns generally end with the following: -p, -one, -k, -isme, -age, -ing, -et, -ou, -u, -x etc

Feminine nouns generally end with the following: -ance, -ée, -euse, -esse, -nne, -nde, -ise, -sion, -ière, -té, -ace etc

Note that I put emphasis on the word generally. There are of course, exceptions to these guidelines.

eg. la croix, l'image, le palace, le monde

Further reading: Link


Edit: Thanks for pointing that out, jrikhal

June 7, 2015

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

N.B.: l'image

June 7, 2015

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

@bnbnb2 Since you're also learning German, I'll show you my way of remembering the genders of nouns.

German feminine nouns generally end with: -keit, -heit, -ung, -ei, -schaft. eg. die Wissenschaft

German neuter nouns generally end with: -nis, -tum. eg. das Eigentum

German masculine nouns derived from other languages generally end with: -ant, -ot, -ast, -ismus eg. der Kapitalismus

June 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chriscoats89

I read a book once, i think it was "fluent forever" which suggested things like "imagine all feminine nouns are on fire" or "male nouns explode"

la table - imagine a table on fire le livre - an exploding book

you could choose anything really, as long as it sticks in your head,

June 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sue.Bee

Could you please verify the name of the book? I would like to see if the library has it. I tried "fluent forever" and nothing came up online at the library.

June 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chriscoats89

Yep I went and dug it out. It's "Fluent Forever"

It's more about how to learn any language and not specific to French, and his main idea is through spaced repitition with flashcards.

Search amazon and you'll find it. I bought it in waterstones in the UK. There's also a website fluent-forever.com with resources

June 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sue.Bee

Thanks for the information.

June 10, 2015

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

The book is less than a year old, which might explain why many libraries don't have it. It is written by Gabriel Wyner at https://fluent-forever.com/development/about-me/

June 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sue.Bee

Thanks! I'll look it up.

June 10, 2015

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

Remembering endings and exceptions is one of the treaks. I even built a memorizong tool with a useful cheat-sheet http://renatrafikov.com/frenchfm/

June 10, 2015

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

I tried your tool: good one!

I found some little mistakes

  • it says "un paire" (but list it correctly as feminine)
  • ermite is a masculine noun
  • "chancé" doesn't exist.
    => un fiancé, un arrêté

And generally, I wouldn't consider one letter being an ending ("-t", "-m").

June 10, 2015

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

Good question! I was wondering the same thing but there doesn't seem to be a pattern. I just figured that a male must have invented the language, as a lot of the cool stuff like sharks end up being male (le requin) whilst we left things like flies as female (la mouche).

:)

June 7, 2015

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

le papillon (butterfly) ? ;)

June 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth261736

oui, mais les papillons sont cool aussi

June 7, 2015

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

;)

June 7, 2015

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

use the indefinite article. eg un homme, une orange. thats how i learned them as a kid

June 8, 2015

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

I memorize them by appending ",f" or ",m" in my mind as attributes. I speak several languages with grammatical gender, and i use the same system for them all (",n" for neuter in german, for example), which works better for me than remembering articles.

June 9, 2015

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

The only way to memorize genders in French is too...memorize them! There is no trick and little logic to this concept in French. You can't use tricks such as " a noun that ends with an e is feminine and a noun that ends with anything else is masculine" notice : la moto (the motorcycle). Another thing is "l'homme" and "l'orange." Because these nouns start with vowels, you must take off the lE or lA, as these are vowels as well and would collide with the nouns. L'homme makes the acrticle sound as if it is part of the noun, so to pronounce these nouns/articles correctly you say "lom" not " luh om." Notice: In this case, h is is a vowel as it is silent, so simply ignore it! :)

June 7, 2015

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

I think, given the original comment, that bnbnb2 is exactly looking for advice/methods to help memorizing (by heart) them, not looking for a pattern or anything like that.

Her/His own idea of learning nouns always with article is a good way (I don't see others in fact) to do so.

June 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jhmccoy9

An e at the end is almost always feminine

June 7, 2015

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

That's one too simple "rule" I'd really not rely on (as a French): père, frère, maire, sondage, sabotage, schisme, pamplemousse, * agrume, repère, sulfure*, ...
See jdfromdublin's list.

June 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth261736

un exercice, un acte....

June 7, 2015
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