Masculine and Feminine in French (2023)

It’s essential to understand the difference between masculine and feminine in French. Knowing the difference between them will dictate what words you have to use, particularly when it comes to determiners (e.g. articles), pronouns, and adjectives.

Old English used to have grammatical genders, but they fell out of use. Modern English is much simpler and does not distinguish between them. For example, in English, we just use “the” for everything whether it’s masculine/feminine or singular/plural. That’s not the case in French. That’s why many English speakers struggle with this aspect of French.

Don’t worry, though. Even for Spanish speakers and other speakers whose languages have genders, we sometimes make mistakes when telling genders apart. That’s why we put together this guide to help you better understand this subject. Let’s see the differences between le masculin and le féminin. Allons-y!

Definite Articles

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When you learn French, you will notice that most nouns are paired with articles. This is to indicate a noun is masculine/feminine and singular/plural. Gender matters in French.

Let’s start with definite articles. In English, the only definite article is “the”. Gender doesn’t matter. We can say the table, the chair, the house, the cars, etc. Simple, right?

However, French has four definite articles which are: le, la, l’, and les. We have to determine the gender of a word so we know which one to use. Let’s break this down.

We use le for masculine singular nouns. Examples: le frigo (the refrigerator), le ventilateur (the fan), le lapin (the rabbit), etc.

We use la for feminine singular nouns. Examples: la voiture (the car), la chaise (the chair), la table (the table), etc.

We use l’ for both masculine singular and feminine singular nouns. In reality, it’s the contraction of the articles le and la, but we switch them to l’ when they precede a noun starting with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u). We also use l’ in most cases where it precedes a noun starting with h. Examples: l’ordinateur (the computer), l’ami (the friend), l’école (the school), l’homme (the man), l’hôpital (the hospital), etc.

Finally, we have les. We use it for plural nouns, whether they’re masculine or feminine. Examples: les chiens (the dogs), les arbres (the trees), les mots (the words), etc.

(Video) Gender of French Words: Masculin vs Feminin

Indefinite Articles

English has only two indefinite articles: a and an. On the other hand, French has three: un, une, and des.

For masculine singular nouns, we use un. Examples: un portable (a cell phone), un garçon (a boy), un plat (a dish), etc.

For feminine singular nouns, we use une. Examples: une fille (a girl), une voiture (a car), une fenêtre (a window), etc.

For plural nouns, we use des. It doesn’t matter if the nouns are masculine or feminine. The English equivalent is some. Examples: des livres (some books), des jours (some days), des boîtes (some boxes), etc.

Partitive Articles

Masculine and Feminine in French (2)

As the name implies, partitive articles have to do with the parts of something. We use them to refer to a portion or unspecified amount of foods, drinks, or other uncountable nouns.

There are four articles of this kind: du, de la, de l’, and des. They all have to agree in gender and quantity with the nouns they precede.

For masculine singular nouns, we use du. Examples: du lait (some milk), du jus (some juice), du beurre (some butter), etc.

For feminine singular nouns, we use de la. Examples: de la viande (some meat), de la patience (some patience), de la glace (some ice cream), etc.

We use de l’ for both masculine and feminine singular nouns. Examples: de l’argent (some money), de l’eau (some water), de l’amour (some love), etc.

Finally, for plural we use des. This applies to both masculine and feminine nouns. Examples: des pommes (some apples), des gâteaux (some cakes), des lettres (some letters), etc.

(Video) How to identify feminine and masculine in French - 5 Easy TIPS

In English, there is no equivalent article. Linguists translate them to “some” or “any”, but more often than not, they’re not even used.

How to Distinguish Masculine from Feminine

How do we know what is masculine and what is feminine? That’s the $64,000 question, right?

Well, in most cases, we can know the gender of a word by its ending. I said most cases because there are some exceptions. Some words are either masculine or feminine regardless of their ending. More of that later.

Look at the table below for some of the most common noun endings in French. Let’s start with masculine nouns.

EndingsExamples
le pré, le résumé
-ienle comédien, le musicien
-eurle ventilateur, le vendeur
-(i)erle boucher, le fermier
-teurle tuteur, l’acteur
-onle patron, le ballon
-agele garage, le village
-eaule bateau, le chapeau
-all’hôpital, le cheval
-etle billet, le ticket
-entl’accident, le client
-asme/-ismele sarcasme, le tourisme
-aille travail, le détail
-inle coussin, le lapin
-oirle lissoir, le comptoir

Now let’s take a look at some typical feminine endings.

EndingsExamples
-essela paresse, la jeunesse
-iennela comédienne, la musicienne
-eusela danseuse, la serveuse
-(i)èrela cousinière, la cochère
-tricel’actrice, la directrice
-onnela baronne, la personne
-adela limonade, la fusillade
-ance/-encela différance, la présidence
-éela soirée, la vallée
-ettela baguette, la facette
-ellela citronnelle, la passerelle
-iel’allergie, la modestie
-isela maîtrise, la bêtise
-inela grenadine, la tartine
-aillela médaille, la bataille
-t(i)éla dynastie, la sortie
-urela culture, la peinture

Nouns That Are Always or Generally Masculine

Some words are always masculine or feminine regardless of their ending. The nouns listed below are always masculine.

  • Days (le lundi, le mardi, le mercredi…)
  • Months (janvier, février, mars…)
  • Seasons (le printemps, l’été, l’automne, l’hiver)
  • Colors (le rouge, le bleu, le jaune…)
  • Numbers (le zéro, le deux, le trois…)
  • Letters (le a, le b, le c…)
  • Languages (l’anglais, l’espagnol, le français…)
  • Cardinal points (le nord, le sud, l’est, l’ouest)
  • Metals (l’or, l’argent, le plomb…)
  • Infinitives when used as nouns (le pouvoir, le devoir, le choisir…)
  • Wines (le champagne, le merlot, le pinot noir…)

The nouns listed below are generally masculine.

  • Drinks (le café, le thé, le jus…)
  • Foods that don’t end in -e (le haricot, le thon, le maïs…)
  • Minerals (le sel, le mica, le gypse…)
  • Trees (le palmier, l’oranger, le chêne…)
  • Weights and measures (le meter, le litre, le gram…)
  • Words borrowed from English (le challenge, le parking, le week-end…)

Nouns That Are Always or Generally Feminine

Masculine and Feminine in French (4)

The following nouns are always feminine.

  • Quantities ending in -aine (une dizaine, une centaine…)
  • Cars (une Porsche, une Volkswagen…)
  • Continents (l’Europe, l’Asie…)
  • Holidays and festivals with saint in their names (la Saint-Valentin, la Saint-Sylvestre…)
  • Planets (la Terre, la Pluton…)
  • Watches (une Rolex, une Tag Heuer…)

The following nouns are generally feminine.

(Video) Ask a French Teacher - How Can I Tell if a Noun is Masculine or Feminine?

  • Academic disciplines (la philosophie, la chimie…)
  • Most foods ending in -e (la tomate, la banane…)

Cities, States, and Countries

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Not only do things have genders in French, but cities, states, and countries do, too! In fact, it would be safe to say everything has a gender in French.

Before you start pulling out your hair, I will teach you a simple rule. Most places ending in -e are feminine. The rest are masculine.

Of course, there are a few exceptions. The following countries are masculine even though they end in -e:

  • le Mexique (Mexico)
  • le Bélize (Belize)
  • le Cambodge (Cambodia)
  • le Mozambique (Mozambique)
  • le Zaïre (Zaire)
  • le Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)

For cities, gender is no big deal since there are still some controversies among scholars. However, for states and countries, it’s important to understand gender because this will tell us what prepositions to use with them. We will talk about this in further detail in a later post.

Job Titles

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Most job titles are either masculine or feminine. The same rules we mentioned above regarding endings apply here.

However, some job titles only use the masculine form for both men and women.

Examples:

un/une ingénieur

un/une médecin

(Video) Why knowing the gender of a French word is important

un/une professeur

Other job titles only have feminine forms.

Examples:

une femme de ménage

une hôtesse de l’air

There is some controversy regarding not only professions but the whole French language arising out of feminism and the gender equality movement. We won’t cover that here but will probably do in the future.

Conclusion

All French words have a gender. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to know whether a noun is masculine or feminine.

The good thing is, there are many shortcuts you can take to get the correct answer. Today, you learned you can guide yourself by the ending of a word. You also learned that several words are always or generally masculine/feminine depending on specific circumstances. By following these shortcuts, you will be able to determine the gender of a noun correctly in most cases.

There are some exceptions in French, but they’re not too many. You will have to memorize them.

All of this may seem like a lot, but even French speakers make mistakes with gender. Just keep learning and practicing.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Au revoir!

(Video) French Gender of Nouns - Masculine and Feminine / French Grammar Course Lesson 3

Masculine and Feminine in French (7)
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Masculine and Feminine in French (8)

FAQs

How do you remember if a French word is masculine or feminine? ›

How to Tell if a Noun is Masculine or Feminine in French?
  1. A noun is feminine if it ends in “-e” or “-ion.”
  2. The exceptions to this are the endings “-age,” “-ège,” or “-isme.”
  3. Nearly every other noun ending is masculine.

What is French masculine and feminine? ›

A noun is either masculine or feminine. As you might have guessed, the word for 'woman,' femme, is feminine. To say 'a woman' we say une femme. And yes, the word for 'man,' homme, is masculine. But to say 'a man,' we say un homme.

What are masculine and feminine endings in French? ›

The gender of words in French – as well as their grammatical and social implications – can be complicated. If there's only one thing you take away from this article, it should be that the majority of words ending in -e or -ion are feminine while words with other endings are mostly masculine.

Is pizza masculine or feminine in French? ›

pizza noun, feminine

J'ai mangé la pizza entière parce que j'avais faim. — I ate the whole pizza because I was hungry. J'ai mis une pizza au four. — I popped a pizza in the oven.

How do you find UN and UNE in French? ›

In French there are only two. Un for the masculine noun. Une for the feminine noun. The plural “some” in English corresponds to “des.” In French.

How do you know when to use Le and La in French? ›

In French, the definite articles are placed before a common noun: “Le” before a common noun in the singular masculine. Example: le bus. “La” before a common noun in the singular feminine.

What are 5 feminine nouns in French? ›

elle, enne, emme, esse, erre, ette… La pelle (shovel), une selle (saddle), la chaussette (the sock), la fillette (the little girl), La tristesse (sadness), la terre (earth), la femme (woman)…

What are masculine and feminine nouns in French examples? ›

Masculine and feminine nouns
MasculineFeminineEnglish
le directeurla directriceheadteacher, director
le coiffeurla coiffeusehairdresser
l'infirmierl'infirmièrenurse

What are masculine words in French examples? ›

French Nouns Ending in Ier, Er and Eur are Masculine

French words ending in “ier and er” are masculine, such as in le fermier (the farmer), l'épicier (the grocer), le cahier (the notebook), le pommier (the apple tree), le boucher (the butcher), le boulanger (the baker) – many names of professions end in “ier”.

What endings are feminine? ›

"Masculine ending" refers to a line ending in a stressed syllable. "Feminine ending" is its opposite, describing a line ending in a stressless syllable.

What are 10 French words? ›

Learn Some Common French Words
  • Bonjour = Hello, Good morning.
  • Au revoir = Goodbye.
  • Oui = Yes.
  • Non = No.
  • Merci = Thank you.
  • Merci beaucoup = Thank you very much.
  • Fille = Girl.
  • Garçon = Boy.

What is it feminine in French? ›

féminin (FEM féminine)

Is salad in French feminine? ›

Answer and Explanation: Salad is la salade in French, a feminine noun.

Why is orange feminine in French? ›

Exception: “Orange” is only masculine as a color – as a fruit it's feminine. Same thing for “rose.” As a color, it's masculine, but as a flower, it's feminine. Exception: Most shrubs are also masculine, but vines are feminine (la vigne). Exception: la tomme de Savoie is a cheese exception.

Is lemon feminine in French? ›

"An apple and a lemon, please." Sasha Lee: Une pomme et un citron, s'il vous plaît. Michael: Here, the word for "apple" is feminine and the word for "lemon" is masculine.

Why do we say une instead of UN? ›

Notice, that unlike English, all nouns (words for things and people) in French are masculine or feminine. Use un with masculine nouns. Use une with feminine nouns. Note that un, une also mean one: une maison means a house and one house.

What are examples of UNE in French? ›

The French Indefinite Article UNE
  • Une idée – An idea.
  • Une télévision – A television.
  • Une plante – A plant.
  • Une montre – A watch.
  • Une femme – A woman.
  • Une photo – A picture.
  • Une balade – A walk.
  • Une feuille – A piece of paper.

Is Cafe masculine or feminine? ›

Answer and Explanation: The word café is a masculine noun. Be sure to use masculine articles and adjectives with it.

Is it Le pizza or La pizza? ›

So does that mean Pizza is feminine? Pizza is feminine in Italian, so the noun was imported into the French language with its original gender. La pizza= the pizza If you write "l'pizza" instead, is it still correct?

Who decides the gender of French words? ›

No explanations exist as to why French nouns have a gender or how the gender of any noun was originally determined, so you cannot rely on a rule to guide you; however, certain endings do generally indicate a feminine or masculine noun.

Is croissant masculine or feminine in French? ›

croissant {adjective masculine}

What words are feminine? ›

synonyms for feminine
  • female.
  • femalelike.
  • gentle.
  • soft.
  • tender.
  • womanish.
  • womanlike.
  • womanly.

What are examples of feminine? ›

Feminine is the opposite of masculine. If it has anything to do with girls and women, it's considered feminine. Anything feminine is associated with females. In American culture, that includes wearing pink, playing with dolls, sporting high heels, and getting weepy during sad movies.

What are feminine and masculine words? ›

Masculine nouns refer to words for a male figure or male member of a species (i.e. man, boy, actor, horse, etc.) Feminine nouns refer to female figures or female members of a species (i.e. woman, girl, actress, mare, etc.)

Is butter in French masculine or feminine? ›

le beurre (bur) noun, masculine

Please jump right in and share your butter/"beurre" terms and expressions here.

Why are some words masculine and feminine in French? ›

French is a Romance language, meaning it is a dialect of Modern Latin, and the nouns are gendered in Latin. The Latin declensions have been lost and the neuter gender merged to masculine, but the words which were either gender in Latin, are still that way in French.

What is lazy in French masculine? ›

If you are a man in you want to say I am lazy you would say, “Je suis paresseux.” This is the masculine form of the adjective. If you are a woman you must use the feminine form.

Is tree in French masculine or feminine? ›

Answer and Explanation: The word for tree in French is arbre. According to French rules of grammar, arbre is masculine.

What is your masculine in French? ›

What are the possessive adjectives in French? - Easy Learning Grammar French
with masculine singular nounwith feminine singular nounMeaning
tonta (ton)your
sonsa (son)his her its one's
notrenotreour
votrevotreyour
2 more rows

How do I accept my feminine side? ›

7 Ways to embrace your femininity and unleash your inner goddess
  1. Get your body moving. ...
  2. Allow time for healing, recharging, and self-care. ...
  3. Spend time with other women. ...
  4. Treat yourself to some retail therapy. ...
  5. Make your own pleasure a priority. ...
  6. Book a day for pampering. ...
  7. Do things that spark your creativity.
Mar 7, 2021

What is the rules of feminine? ›

By Adding a Syllable (—ess, —ine, —trix, —a, etc.) We can also make a feminine word by adding syllables at the end of masculine word. Syllable -ess is added after dropping the vowel of the masculine ending. we add suffixes -ine, -a, -trix to form feminine form.

How can I speak French easily? ›

Step 2: Create a Mini-France in Your Home
  1. Turn your smartphone into a French speaker. Switch the language settings on your phone to French. ...
  2. Look for French speakers in your city. ...
  3. Watch French TV and movies. ...
  4. Read articles and books in French. ...
  5. Listen to French radio and podcasts (my favourite is FrenchPod101).

What are cute French words? ›

20 Cute French Words That Will Melt Your Heart
  • Un bisou (kiss) Note that in French Québec, this word can be shortened to bee with your children. ...
  • Des bijoux (jewelry) ...
  • Ma belle/mon beau (my beautiful/my handsome) ...
  • Ma joie (my joy) ...
  • Un câlin (hug or cuddle) ...
  • Un canard (duck) ...
  • Sa suce (pacifier or binky) ...
  • Mon chat (cat)
Dec 7, 2022

What are the 100 most common words in French? ›

100 most frequently used French words
  • le (det.) the; (pron.) him, her, it, them.
  • de (det.) some, any; (prep.) of, from.
  • un (det.) a, an; (adj., pron.) one.
  • à (prep.) to, at, in.
  • être (verb) to be; (noun [m. ]) being.
  • et (conj.) and.
  • en (prep.) in, by; (adv., pron.)
  • avoir (verb) to have; (noun [m. ]) assets.

What is your love feminine French? ›

There aren't many French terms of endearment more romantic than mon amour, which means “my love” in French. Is it ma amour or mon amour? Whether you're speaking to a man or a woman, the term is the same: mon amour.

What is cool in French feminine? ›

adjective. 1. frais (FEM fraîche)

How do you say I am feminine in French? ›

To introduce yourself, saying “je suis + name” is correct. For example, “Je suis Marie” (I'm Marie) or “Je suis Pierre” (I'm Pierre).

Is cheese feminine in French? ›

- the cheese is good!
...
Le/la/l' or les - more examples.
Plural masculinePlural feminine
les fromages - the cheesesles villes - the towns

Is Bananas feminine in French? ›

French Words on Instagram: “Banane (feminine word) | Banana | /ba.

Is hair feminine in French? ›

Answer and Explanation: Hair in French is either le cheveu (one strand of hair) or, more commonly, les cheveux: the le makes it masculine.

What are 3 greetings in French? ›

Hello in French
  • The slangy one: Coucou! Meaning: “Hi!” About: Coucou is a sweet, sincere way of saying hi, normally reserved for close friends and family. ...
  • The casual one: Salut! Meaning: “Hey!” ...
  • The formal one: Bonjour! Meaning: This failsafe greeting literally means “Good day”.

Is vegetables feminine in French? ›

The French word for vegetable is légume. It is a masculine word, so you should say un légume.

Is Apple feminine in French? ›

La pomme est…

Since the word “pomme” is feminine, you have to make sure to use the adjective in the feminine form too.

What is the feminine of fat in French? ›

Gras = Fatty, Oily

The feminine form is “grasse”(ends on a final S sound). Gras and Grasse are placed after the noun. Only translators translate “fat” as “gras”.

Is pink feminine in French? ›

Blanche is the feminine singular form of white.
...
Gender agreement for colors.
Englishpink
Masculine singularrose
Feminine singularrose
Masculine pluralroses
Feminine pluralroses
12 more columns
Sep 13, 2012

Is ketchup masculine or feminine in French? ›

ketchup {masculine}

It is not obvious to consumers when they buy ketchup or yoghurt that they contain lots of sugar. Passe-moi le ketchup.

Which words are feminine in French? ›

Quick summary: most French words ending in E, a vowel + a double consonant, or ssion or tion are feminine. Michèle, la France, la fillette, la passion, la nation….

Why are some words feminine or masculine in French? ›

French is a Romance language, meaning it is a dialect of Modern Latin, and the nouns are gendered in Latin. The Latin declensions have been lost and the neuter gender merged to masculine, but the words which were either gender in Latin, are still that way in French.

Are all French nouns either masculine or feminine? ›

In French, all nouns are either masculine or feminine. This is called their gender. Even words for things have a gender. The gender of French nouns can be quite unpredictable, although there are some rules to help you.

Is child in French masculine or feminine? ›

The word 'child' in French is l'enfant, and it is masculine in gender.

Is crayon masculine or feminine in French? ›

Since the noun crayon (pencil) is masculine if you want to say the pencil you would say: le crayon.

What are examples of masculine in French? ›

French Nouns Ending in Ier, Er and Eur are Masculine

French words ending in “ier and er” are masculine, such as in le fermier (the farmer), l'épicier (the grocer), le cahier (the notebook), le pommier (the apple tree), le boucher (the butcher), le boulanger (the baker) – many names of professions end in “ier”.

Is weekend masculine or feminine in French? ›

Are days of the week masculine or feminine in French? Days of the week are always masculine in French.

Is schools masculine or feminine in French? ›

School, the generic term is l'école (feminine, singular).

Is table in French masculine or feminine? ›

For example: a book in French is masculine, un livre. a table is feminine, une table.

Is de la masculine or feminine? ›

+ There are three singular articles: Masculine: du. Feminine: de la.

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