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


Sorted by top post

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

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

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

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

N.B.: l'image

June 7, 2015

@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

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

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

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 with resources

June 8, 2015

Thanks for the information.

June 10, 2015

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

June 9, 2015

Thanks! I'll look it up.

June 10, 2015

Remembering endings and exceptions is one of the treaks. I even built a memorizong tool with a useful cheat-sheet

June 10, 2015

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

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

le papillon (butterfly) ? ;)

June 7, 2015

oui, mais les papillons sont cool aussi

June 7, 2015


June 7, 2015

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

June 8, 2015

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