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Gender of French nouns

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All French nouns have a gender. Every noun is defined as either masculine (French: masculin) or feminine (French: féminin). There are no neuter nouns. 

Whenever you are using a noun, you need to know whether it is masculine or feminine as this affects the form of other words used with it, such as:

  • adjectives that describe it 
  • articles that go before it
  • pronouns that replace it

Especially when it comes to definite articles you have to consider that:

  • le or un before a noun tells you it is masculine
  • la or une before a noun tells you it is feminine

enlightened​Please note that l' is used before masculine or feminine nouns beginning with a vowel or silent h. 

Gender of things and abstract words

ln English, we refer to things with "it". ln French, however, things are either masculine or feminine. Because of this, the gender usually is used arbitrary and must be memorized in the process of learning new vocabularies. 

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Different meaning of the nouns 

1.) There are nouns which have a different meaning, according to the circumstance if they're used as a masculine or feminine. 

masculine formfeminine form
 le crêpe (textile) la crêpe (pancake)
 le critique (critic) la critique (criticism)
 le livre (book) la livre (pound)
 le manche (stem) la manche (sleeve)
 le mémoire (memoir) la mémoire (memory)
 le mode (mode) la mode (fashion)
 le mort (death man) la mort (death)
 le poêle (stove) la poêle (frying pan)
 le vase (vase) la vase (mud)
 le tour (tour) la tour (tower)

Nouns ending in -eur

2.) Nouns which end in -eur are masculine when they want to describe something concrete and female, when they want to describe something abstract.

  • le monteur (the engine)
  • le directeur (the director)
  • la douleur (the pain)
  • la grandeur (the greatness)

Endings of masculine and feminine nouns 

3.) Certain characteristic endings indicate the gender of the noun:

masculine endingsExamples for masculine endingsfeminine endings Examples for feminine endings

 le garage  un avantage

 (the garage, an advantage)


 la salade  la promenade

 (the salat, the walk)


 le cheval  le signal

 (the horse, the signal)



 la distance  la différence 

 (the distance, the difference)


 le château  le bateau

 (the castle, the boat)


 la journée  une idée

 (the day, the idea)


 le document  le talent

 (the document, the talent)


 les nouvelles  une échelle

 (the news, the ladder)


 le billet  le guichet

 (the ticket, the ticket counter)


 la cigarette  la bicyclette

 (the cigarette, the bicycle)


 le cahier  le métier 

 (exercise book, the job)


 la maladie  la librairie

 (the disease, the library)


 le tourisme  le communisme

 (the tourism, the communism)


 la cuisine  la cantine

 (the kitchen, the canteen)


 le devoir  le pouvoir 

 (the homework, the power)


 la télévision  la distraction

 (the television, the distraction)

General rule of the gender of French nouns

Generally, we add an -e to a masculine noun in order to obtain the feminine. 

  • Un anglais -----> une anglaise

​But they are many exceptions as we already saw below in the lists. 

the nouns ending in -er make their feminine en ère

  • Un boulanger -----> une boulangère

Some nouns double the final consonant before the -e

  • Un collégien ----> une collégienne

Some nouns in -e make them feminine en -esse

  • Une comte ----> Une comtesse

The nouns ending in -eur turn into feminine: 

  • Either in -euse
  • Either in -trice
  • Or in -esse
moniteur monitrice 
docteur  docteresse

Nouns ending in -if make them feminine in -ive

  • Un fugitif ----> une fugitive

enlightenedSome nouns completely change in the feminine and some others are irregulars like the animals gender. 

Gender of persons and animals 

1.) The gender of persons and animals in French is always reduced to their natural gender. 

  • le monsieur (mister)
  • le coq (chicken)
  • la dame (lady)
  • la poule (chicken)

2.) You recognize a female noun not only by looking at the article but also because of the ending 

  • acteur - actrice (actor - actress)
  • chat - chatte (male cat - female cat)
  • docteur - doctoresse (doctor)
  • veuf - veuve (widow - widower)

3.) Sometimes you can also add -é to the end of a masculine noun to form the feminine. 

  • un ami - une amie (friend)
  • un ennemi - une ennemie (enemy)

4.) It's also common to use periphrases.

  • une femme écrivain (a female writer)
  • une giraffe mâle (a male giraffe)

5.) Some nouns have two genders, which are differentiated only by their articles.

  • un élève - une élève (pupil)
  • un touriste - une touriste (tourist)

6.) For some nouns there is only a masculine form, which applies to both sexes.

  • un écrivain (writer)
  • un auteur (author)

List of animals gender

Masculine nounFeminine nounTranslation
Un taureauUne vache(A cow)
Un chevalUne jument(A horse)
Un agneauUne agnelle(A lamb)
Un loupUne louve(A wolf)
Un canardUne cane(A duck)
Un âneUne ânesse(A donkey)
Un cerfUne biche(A deer)
Un chameauUne chamelle(A camel)
Un chienUne chienne(A dog)
Un dindonUne dinde(A turkey)
Un singeUne guenon(A monkey)


  1. Quiz about the gender of French nouns
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  3. Fill in the blank exercise about feminine nouns in French

Quiz about the gender of French nouns

Fill in the blank exercise about the gender of French nouns

Fill in the blank exercise about feminine nouns in French

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