- Posted by Amelie
- On April 26, 2017
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- GRAMMAR TOOL OF GENDER IN FRENCH
- 1 Feminine or masculine, that is the question you often ask yourself as a French learner.
- 2 Did you know that a French word ending is a good indicator of its gender?
- 3 Masculine
- 4 Feminine
- 5 Do you want to know how to speak French properly?
- 6 French gender rules explained
- 7 Exercise yourself
- 8 Pronouns
- 9 Exercise yourself
- 10 The endings of adjectives and verbs
Feminine or masculine, that is the question you often ask yourself as a French learner.
Why “bureau” (desk) is masculine and “chaise” (chair) feminine?
Learning French grammar tool of gender in French is not that complicated! Here is some simple explanations.
In French, every noun has a gender, masculine or feminine.
You must think that the only one option to speak French properly is to learn by heart all the French nouns. Luckily this is one of many myths about the French language and you can actually know the gender of a French noun just by looking at its ending.
Why does gender in French matter?
Before you discover how easy it is to know the gender of French nouns with accuracy, you need to know that the gender has an influence on:
- The article you use before a noun
- The ending of adjectives
Did you know that a French word ending is a good indicator of its gender?
When learning the gender of French nouns, keep in mind that the meaning of the noun usually has nothing to do with whether it is masculine or feminine.
To learn grammar tool of gender in French, you need to know that in French grammar rules exit but exceptions remain.
The first one is to look at the ending of a word.
According to several studies, a noun’s ending indicates its gender in 80% of cases.
This could be learnt by heart but it would be boring. Instead write it down on a small note book and keep an eye on it each time you need to speak French.
Best Grammar tool of gender in French. Here is a simplified list that would be easier to remember.
- age (virage)
- al (arsenal, journal, animal)
- eau (tableau, chapeau, bateau)
- ent (sergent, président, client)
- isme (communisme, optimisme)
- ment (département, gouvernement
- ade (promenade, salade)
- aison (combinaison)
- ance (espérance)
- ence (providence)
- esse (adresse, jeunesse)
- ette, (cigarette, disquette)
- ie (chimie)
- tion (action, collection, correction)
- sion (passion, conclusion, décision)
- té : vérité, sincérité, université
- ure (aventure, écriture)
Do you want to know how to speak French properly?
French gender rules explained
Once you know how to easily indentify the gender of nouns, you have to agree all the sentence with this gender. Follow this French lesson and discover all about French articles, pronouns, and adjectives.
The articles and adjectives that we pair with French nouns must agree in both gender and number. Otherwise things sound incorrect to a native French speaker.
• The article you use before a noun
An article is a part of speech that is used very often.
A definite article reveals a specific noun – in English the definite article is the.
I found the box = a specific box that you were looking for, or referred to before.
In French, le, la, and les are all definite articles.
In English, you always use “the”. In French, you have a masculine “the” (le) and a feminine “the” (la). Les is the plural form.
- Le téléphone
- La télévision
- Les objets
An indefinite article doesn’t refer to a specific noun.
In English our indefinite articles are a or an depending on whether the noun starts with a vowel.
Look at this example :
I found a box = any random box out of an indescribable number of boxes. Similarly, you have a masculine “a” in French (un) and a feminine one (une).
- Un paquet (a package)
- Une boite (a box)
If the noun is plural in French, you have to use DES. English does not use any plural article.
- Des paquets (packages)
Finally, while you say “some” in English. You need to make the distinction between “du” (masculine) and “de la” (feminine) in French.
In French , pronouns change according to the gender.
As in English you have a masculine pronoun il (he) and a feminine one elle (she).
However, regarding the plural, you have two different pronouns in French ils or elles.
English will be “they” for both.
Try to match with the right pronoun.
The endings of adjectives and verbs
In the previous exercise, you have seen that adjectives can change due to the noun’s gender.
Poli (Polite) changes into Polie at the feminine form.
An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun. All French adjectives agree in number (singular or plural) and gender (masculine or feminine) with the nouns they describe. In fact, in French, all words in a sentence must agree with each other.
Most of the time masculine adjectives can be change to feminine by adding a suffix.
Most adjectives add e to the masculine singular form to get the feminine singular.
Américain -> américaine
Bleu -> bleue
Content -> contente
Brun -> brune
Blond -> blonde
Fier -> fière
Charmant -> charmante
Idéal -> idéale
Agé -> agée
Dévoué -> dévouée
Fatigué -> fatiguée
Occupé -> occupée
Masculine singular adjectives ending in eux form the feminine by changing -x to -se,
Affectueux -> affectueuse
Chanceux -> chanceuse
Courageux -> courageuse
Form the feminine singular of masculine singular adjectives ending in f by changing -f to -ve.
Neuf -> neuve
Sportif -> sportive
Vif -> vive
Actif -> active
Masculine singular adjectives ending in -er form the feminine by changing -er to -ére,
Léger -> légère
Étranger -> étrangère
Premier -> première
Cher -> chère
Some masculine singular adjectives form the feminine by doubling the final consonant before the -e ending.
Bon -> bonne
Bas -> basse
Ancien -> ancienne
Européen -> européenne