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How do I know whether a word is masculine or feminine?

In French it is often essential to know what gender a particular word is in order to be able to construct a sentence effectively and without errors. 

However, it is not always immediately clear which words belong to which gender. 

Here are some general rules that will help you to avoid making mistakes and construct accurate sentences.

1. If a noun refers to a male person it will be masculine, if it refers to a female person it will be feminine

2. Nouns with these endings will (generally) be masculine:

  • -age
  • -ment
  • -il-ail-eil-ueil
  •  (but not -té)
  • -eau and -ou
  • -ème-ège
  • -i-at-et and -ot
  • -er
  • -oir
  • -isme
  • -ing
  • -ard

 

3. Nouns with these endings will (generally) be feminine: 

  • -tion-sion and -son
  • -ure
  • -ude-ade
  • -ée
  • -té
  • -ière
  • Consonant followed by -ie
  • -euse
  • -ance-ence
  • Most other endings consisting of Vowel + Consonant + e-ine-ise-alle-elle-esse-ette etc

 

Although all these endings can seem overwhelming at first, take your time and remember the most common ones for each gender:

-age, and -ment for masculine nouns 

-tion, -sion, -son for feminine nouns

After a while you will start to get a feel for which words belong to which gender and it will become easier to recognise them. 

Marco S. GCSE French tutor, A Level French tutor, GCSE Italian tutor,...

2 years ago

Answered by Marco, an A Level French tutor with MyTutor

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