Lesson Transcript

Hey, guys! It's Pierre from France. Welcome back for more videos on French learning. Today's video will be about genders in French. I know it's really annoying, genders, in that language, but it's something that you really need to master if you want to sound French and to speak real French. But we think that, usually, it's really random the way that a noun is feminine or masculine, but in fact, there are some rules that you can remember and if you do that, you will be able to guess if a noun is feminine or masculine. But of course, experience is better than just learning rules. So when you learn a new word, try to remember the gender.
So let's get started with feminine ending. If you see one word ending with this one, -ion, you are 99% sure that it's a feminine word. If it’s with -tion or -sion like the same pronunciation, but different letters, here is with a T and here it's with an S, this, you're sure with 100%.
So here, you've got this example - la construction, so I will always put an article here to show that it's feminine or masculine. So here, it's feminine, la. The masculine equivalent is le, but here it's la. La construction like in English “construction” and here, traduction or “translation”, traduction, la traduction, T-I-O-N. It means it’s a feminine word so just remember that.
Some examples with -sion, la télévision “television”. Again, it's a similar word in English and here, la décision “decision”. So as you can see for those words, usually, it's the same than in English like almost the same here. There is the accent in French and here as well, but it's the same ending.
So if you see those two endings, it's feminine and usually, the English equivalent of the word is similar because these endings exist in English as well. So this is for -tion and -sion so same pronunciation even for French speakers.
Here is another one -té. For example, la beauté “beauty”, and la réalité. So as you can see in English, “beauty” beauté, réalité “reality”, -té is the equivalent of “-ty” in English. So when you see a word that is ending with a -té “ty” in English, there is a high probability that the translation would be with -té and if it's the case, the word is always feminine. Some other examples like “clarity” clarté, la clarté, “clarity” la clarté. So here, it's a bit different but you see “-ty” and -té en français, in French.
So here, those two endings are really important, but the next category is most of the words ending with E. E, it's the feminine mark. When you have an adjective, you have to change the ending of the adjective depending on the noun, if it's a masculine noun or a feminine noun. Usually and it's always the case in fact, you add an E at the end of the adjective because the noun is feminine. So E is the mark of the of the feminine form, but not all the words, all the nouns ending with E are feminine, but a lot, many, many of them. For those endings, it's always the case. So one, two, three…, four, five, six, you have six different endings.
The first one is -ette. When you say a word with ette for French native speaker, it sounds feminine, -ette is really feminine, with T-T-E. For example “cigarette” la cigarette, same than in English, here, feminine. Then here, you have “trumpet” la trompette, again feminine. You have E-T-T-E, feminine always.
Here, you've got two similar ones, -ance and -ence, same pronunciation and sometimes it's with an A, sometimes it's with an E. So here, you have la ressemblance, ressemblance, similar to the English word “resemblance”, except that in French, you need to add two S here, you have two S. In English, you have only one, la ressemblance. It ends with A-N-C-E so definitely, it's a feminine word. Same with this one, la chance “chance / luck”, C-H-A-N-C-E, A-N-C-E, feminine, always feminine.
The next one is with E-N-C-E so same pronunciation. As you can see here, la différence, similar to the English word “difference”, la différence. Here, there is an accent, but in English, it's the same except that, la différence “difference”.
So here, you can see, when I say, ressemblance and différence, this is the same pronunciation. Even for native French speakers, there is no difference between those two sounds so don't be afraid. This is quite normal for native French speakers not to distinguish that. The only way you can distinguish it is when you write it.
Here is another example, l'intelligence “smartness” or the fact of being clever, “cleverness”, l'intelligence. So here again, E-N-C-E, but for this one, there is one big exception, this is silence “quietness”, la silence. Here, even though it's E-N-C-E, you need to use le which proves that it's masculine. So le silence, masculine word. Be careful with this one.
Then, there is another one which is U-R-E. Here is an example, la peinture “painting” la peinture. So here, U-R-E so again, feminine. Another one is la culture “culture”, here, it’s U-R-E so definitely it's feminine. So this is for this one.
Now let's move on to the next, E-S-S-E. As this one, E-T-T-E, when you hear that as a native French speaker, it sounds really feminine. So almost all the words with E-S-S-E are feminine, same for this one. There is no big exception for this one, la sagesse “wisdom” la sagesse, sagesse, it means that it’s feminine because E-S-S-E. In French, the E-S-S-E ending is quite similar to the -ness one in English like cleverness. It's a way to turn an adjective into a noun. So here, you can say sage, someone is sage “wise” and if you add E-S-S-E, it becomes a noun. So here, la sagesse.
Here is another example, la promesse, in English “promise”, la promesse. Here again, E-S-S-E so definitely it's feminine.
The last one is -ine like cuisine “kitchen” or cuisine. You can also say cuisine because in French, cuisine means the fact of cooking, the activity of cooking and also the room, the kitchen. So here, cuisine, I-N-E, and here, l'origine “the origin”. So here as you can see and you can see that as well in intelligence, l'intelligence, there is a vowel. So with this, you cannot say if it's feminine or masculine if you just see the L like that because there is a contraction. But this, if you use -en or -on, you would say on origine or here, on intelligence, you have to be careful because here, when you say it, you need to know if it's masculine or feminine. But here, you know it's feminine because it's I-N-E or here, it’s E-N-C-E so be careful with that.
So it was six examples, the six biggest categories of nouns that are always feminine and nouns that end with an E because as you can see, it's always ending with an E. So here, always feminine except in this case and maybe there are some more, but don't focus too much on that because 99% of the case is it's always feminine. So this is the good ones and sometimes there are also some masculine E ending, but we will see that later. But if you don't know if a word is feminine or masculine, but the word ends with an E, there is a high chance that this one is feminine. If it's this one, it's definitely feminine.
Let's move on to masculine endings. The first one is an. When you see a word that ends with an, the sound /an/, I know it's a really difficult one for non-native French speakers, but this one is really important, an/en/ant/ent, same pronunciation for the four words. So here as you can see, there is an E and A, but it's the same and here you've got a silent T, you don't say it. So for those four endings, it's /an/. It's a bit similar to this an/en, same pronunciation even if it's an A or an E. So here an/en.
There is a high chance that if it ends with an -an/-en, it's masculine. If it's with M-E-N-T, you’re sure like 99%, almost 100% that it’s masculine. So here is an example - le payement “payment”. It's the same than in English, -ment. Usually, a word in English that ends with -ment, you can translate it into a word in French that ends with -ment and if you do it, it's always masculine - le payement “the payment”. Here, you're sure 100% for this one, but for the other ones, you’re almost sure like I would say more than 90%.
So here, you've got some examples, “a child” un enfant. So here, I did the liaison, un enfant or you can also say l'un enfant, but here, you don't. It's the same than here like you don't see if it's masculine or feminine. So for those examples, I prefer to use un or /un/. So here, you've got un. So un enfant, A-N-T, it’s masculine, A-N-T.
Next one is a “glove” un gant, A-N-T, glove. Here, same ending so not much to say.
So here is another one, un paysan, un chien, paysan, A-N, un chien, E-N. Here, you can see -an/-en, paysan, chien, but here, the pronunciation is a bit different for chien. But here, you've got a masculine word. But one thing you can do in French is sometimes for words especially for animals and people, because here un paysan, it means like “peasant” and chien means “dog”. So here, it's an animal and here, it's a person like a peasant. In those cases in French, you can turn those words into a feminine one. If you add usually a specific mark and usually this specific mark is the feminine E. E is the mark of feminine noun. So here if you add an E, you can do it, but with the A-N and E-N, when you do that, you need to double the N so une paysanne, une chienne. So here, you double the N and you add an E. So here, you’ve got the feminine ending and a masculine ending. So that's why in most cases, A-N and E-N are masculine because if you want the feminine equivalent, you need to add N-E at the end.
So this one, an/en/ant/ent, usually it's always masculine.
Let's move on to the next one. Here, it's an in/int/ain, the sound /in/. So here, it's three different ways to write in/int/ain, but it's the same, in/int/ain. Here it’s silent T and here, it’s the same ain. I know it's quite hard. Maybe, you don't hear the difference between an/en/ant/ent and in/int/ain, but it’s really different for French speakers.
Le pain “bread”, le pain. It's a bit similar to chien here, le pain, chien like I-E-N is a bit similar to A-I-N. So yeah, you've got this one.
Here, you've got another example, le chemin “path”. Here, I-N.
Here, another one, a funny one, le pingouin, which is not penguin but auk. It's almost the same, but here, you've got one other word with I-N, but here, you've got a not common term ending in French, O-U-I-N, but it’s still I-N so masculine. So here, masculine, masculine, masculine, I-N, I-N, I-N. So here it's even, A-I-N.
So here, as you can see it's masculine I-N and here with an E, it's feminine. So it's not the equivalent like you cannot just add an E and make and turn it into a feminine word, but you can notice that with an E, it's feminine and without, it's masculine, so yeah, it's really important to remember that. Usually I-N, the sound /in/ is masculine. So you've got those two examples.
Let's move on to the next one. Here, you've got different ways to say the sound /o/. This is almost 100% sure that the words that end with one of these will be masculine. So here, it's same pronunciation, o/ot/os/au/aut/aud/eau. You've got many, many different ways to write it in French, but here it's a silent T, silent S, silent T, silent D and here A-U, it’s /o/ in French and E-A-U is also /o/.
So here, le crapaud “toad”. “Toad” in English, le crapaud. Here, A-U-D so this one, it’s masculine.
Here is another one, “snail” un escargot, escargot so here, O-T, same pronunciation /o/, un escargot.
Another one is le saut “jump”, A-U-T, you don’t say the T so it’s masculine, le saut.
Un oiseau “bird”. Here, E-A-U so it’s masculine.
But there is one big exception which is in fact not really an exception. This is l'eau. So here, you cannot say if it's masculine or feminine so you would say une eau. Here, you can see that it's E-A-U, but in fact, the whole word is E-A-U. It’s not an ending because here, grammatically speaking, this is an ending, but here, the whole word is E-A-U so it's not an ending so be careful with this one. But we don't say a lot une eau, but it's important to know that E-A-U is feminine when you use an adjective like une eau claire “clear water”. Here, it's important for the E, but here, I used une, but if you want to use l'eau, l'eau claire. Here, you need to know for the E here.
So let's move on to the next one which is on/ont/om/ond, the sound /on/. With an/en/ant/ent, in/int/ain, on/ont/on/ond is probably one of the most difficult sound for French learners. So here, it's silent T and silent D and here, like O-M and O-N is the same pronunciation in French.
So here, le ballon “the ball”, le ballon, masculine.
Le dragon “dragon”, same than in English, same.
Le pont “a bridge”, O-N-T, T is silent, le pont.
Here, you’ve got le prénom “first name”, but if it’s the case for “nickname” le surnom or le nom “name”. You’ve got O-M here. M is like as if it was an N. So here, masculine.
Another one, an example with O-N-D is le bond “leap”, it’s a leap. So here, silent D, masculine.
The next one is ou/oux/out/ Again, X silent, T silent, so it's the same pronunciation for all those endings. This one, it's not 100% sure but it's almost. Those ones or really common. This one, maybe a bit less, same for this one. But in a lot of cases, it's masculine.
So here you've got an example, le poux “louse” on the head, le poux, O-U-X, pronunciation /ou/ so it’s masculine.
Le râgout “stew”, O-U-T.
Here, le caillou “pebble” le caillou, always pronunciation /ou/ so masculine for all those cases.
Be careful with this one la roue. It’s a feminine word, but here, it's not one of the three endings that is written. Here it's with the E, O-U-E so that's why it's not 100%. It's because the way you can write -ou in French, only three of them are almost always masculine. There is one ending that is feminine. It's when it's with an E. So again as I told you, most of the words ending with E are feminine and this is an example.
The next one is -al like le cheval “horse” or “animal” animal, un animal, l'animal, un animal or “hospital” un hôpital, same. You see that a lot of words in English ends with -al and usually, it's often the case that in French, it's also with -al so in those cases, it's masculine. So -al masculine, in many cases. It's not always the case, but in most cases. So this is all for the masculine endings like the common ones.
But there is also masculine endings which are E sometimes. I told you most of the words ending with E are feminine, but it's not always the case. So here, it's 100% sure that it's feminine except for this one, le silence, but it’s almost always feminine. But there are some words that are always masculine and then for the remaining ones, there is a high chance that it's feminine, but sometimes it's also masculine so be careful, but usually, if you just remember those four endings, without remembering those ones, you can guess that the word is feminine. If it's not one of these, it's probably feminine, but if you want really to be accurate, you should also learn those ones that sounds feminine and it's always feminine when you hear that.
So here are the four ones that are always masculine. This one is really common, -isme. It’s like in English, “-ism” like le réalisme “realism”, like “humanism” le humanisme, like “feminism” le féminisme. Here, always....le, le féminisme, le réalisme “realism”. So I-S-M-E, always masculine.
Here is another one, age like you can say l'age for example, “the age”,but it’s not a termism here like it’s the same than eau because the full word is age. Here, mariage “wedding” or also “marriage” because in French, it’s the same word. You've got the A-G-E as an ending. So here, it's masculine. All the word with A-G-E are masculine in French.
Here are two other ones like scope in English so scope in French, scope like télescope “telescope” in English. Le télescope like really similar, le télescope. Le téléphone in French, le téléphone, in English, telephone. So here, it’s the same beginning of the word like téle and here you’ve got different ending and those two endings are masculine. So all words with -scope and -scope in French, -scope in English or phone “phone” in English, phone in French, phone, scope, phone. It’s not really an O. It’s like phone, a bit different. Maybe you cannot catch it, but it doesn't really matter - le téléphone, le télescope. So that’s all for the masculine E endings. In those cases, it's always masculine so be careful with that.
So let's sum that up, feminine endings and masculine endings. For feminine endings, there is I-O-N and T-É. It’s almost feminine, in all the cases, feminine, almost 100% sure that it will be feminine. So those two only. I will talk about that later. For masculine endings, you've got this one, an/en/ant/ent, o/ot/os/au/aut/auo/eau. Those two are almost 100% like 99%. For M-E-N-T, it’s 100%. So for those two, it's almost always masculine. For those two as well, in/int/ain and on/ont/om/ond, it's almost always masculine. Here, when you hear ou/oux/out, it's always masculine except if there is oue which means it's feminine. By the way, I didn't translate this word, roue is like “the wheel”. So this case and also the last one, -al, often masculine when you see A-L. Concerning the E endings, if you don't know, there is a high chance that it’s feminine. If it's one of those, this is masculine, but in other cases, it's almost always feminine as you can see here. But sometimes, it's not the case but for those ones, it's 100% sure that it's the case. So I hope with those endings, if you can remember that, you don't need to learn that by heart, but if you can do it, remember some of them, you will be able to guess the gender and this is really helpful when you learn French.
See you next time! It was Pierre. Bye!