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

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist


Emily B. A Level German tutor, A Level French tutor, GCSE French tuto...
View profile
£20 /hr

Emily B.

Degree: French and German (Bachelors) - Leeds University

Subjects offered: French, German


“ne of the things I enjoy about languages is being able to pass on my knowledge of both the language and culture to others.”

Danielle M. GCSE French tutor, A Level French tutor, GCSE Spanish tut...
View profile
£20 /hr

Danielle M.

Degree: Spanish and French Studies (Bachelors) - Warwick University

Subjects offered: French, Spanish


“About me: My name is Danielle and I am about to be a final year student of French and Spanishat Warwick University. I spent the last twelve months on my year abroad, where I was a student at Málaga University in Spain and University ...”

Isabel K. A Level French tutor, GCSE Spanish tutor, A Level Philosoph...
View profile
£20 /hr

Isabel K.

Degree: Philosophy and French (Bachelors) - Oxford, Oriel College University

Subjects offered: French, Spanish+ 1 more

Philosophy and Ethics

“Hi!! I'm Isabel and I'm a student at the University of Oxford, studying French and Philosophy. I have a lot of experience teaching, having taught various languages to students between the ages of 3 to 17. I'm currently living in Montp...”

MyTutor guarantee

About the author

Marco S. GCSE French tutor, A Level French tutor, GCSE Italian tutor,...
View profile
£20 /hr

Marco S.

Degree: French & Italian (Bachelors) - Bristol University

Subjects offered: French, Italian+ 1 more

English Literature

“2nd Year studying French and Italian at Bristol, looking to bring enthusiasm and energy to tutoring those needing help in GCSE and A-level along with English Lit GCSE. ”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Other A Level French questions

Why do past participles that take 'avoir' sometimes agree with the noun?

What is the subjunctive?

How can I improve my listening skills?

What is the subjunctive used for?

View A Level French tutors


We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss