Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Candice here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is: How can you tell if a noun is masculine or feminine?
In French, every noun has a gender. That goes for plural nouns too, like apples and oranges.
Other Romance languages have masculine and feminine nouns, too. It’s a trait that comes from Latin, and the gender depends on the origin of the older Latin word.
English doesn’t have masculine or feminine nouns, so the easiest way to tell the gender of a noun is by looking at the last letter of the noun.
The general rule is that if a noun ends with an -e, it's feminine. For example, la lettre, meaning "the letter," la veste, meaning "the jacket," and la fraise, meaning "the strawberry."
Nouns that end with any other letter are generally masculine, like le croissant, "the croissant," le mec, which means "the guy," or le bijou meaning "the jewel."
The only thing is, there are lots of exceptions. For example, le fromage, meaning "cheese," is masculine even though it ends with an -e.
Another example is, voix, meaning "voice." This word is feminine even though it doesn't end with an -e, so it's la voix.
Because there are so many exceptions to the general pattern, it's best to learn nouns and their articles together. That's le or un for masculine nouns and la or une for feminine nouns. Le and la are like the article “the” in English. Un or une are similar to “a.”
Although -e for feminine nouns and any other letters for masculine nouns are the most common ways to determine the gender of a noun in French, a few other letter patterns sometimes apply.
Some masculine endings are: “-age,” like le fromage, or “cheese” “-ment,” like le document, or “document” “-eau” like un oiseau, or “bird,” and “-oir” like le miroir or “the mirror.” If you see these letter patterns when you’re studying French, it’s safe to assume those nouns are masculine.
Some feminine patterns are: “-tion” or “-sion” like la nation meaning, “the nation,” “-té” like la liberté, or “liberty” and “-euse” like la chanteuse, or “the singer.” Just like with the masculine letter patterns I just mentioned, you can assume that words ending with these letter patterns are feminine.
It's important to remember what gender a noun is because sometimes it influences other parts of the sentence in French.
For example, adjectives change their spelling according to the gender of the noun they modify.
It looks a bit like this:
"The blue notebook," which is masculine, is le cahier bleu. "The blue chair" which is feminine, is la chaise bleue, with an extra -e.
I hope that answers your question! If you have any more questions, please leave them in the comments below, and I'll try to answer them!
A bientôt! See you soon!