Languages › French Masculine and Feminine French Nouns ~ Noms How to Know the Gender of French Nouns Share Flipboard Email Print s5iztok/E+/Getty Images French Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Resources For Teachers by ThoughtCo Updated January 28, 2019 A noun is a word that represents a person, place, or thing, whether concrete (e.g., chair, dog) or abstract (idea, happiness). In French, all nouns have a gender—they are either masculine or feminine. The gender of some nouns makes sense (homme [man] is masculine, femme [woman] is feminine) but others don't: the words personne [person] and victime [victim] are always feminine, even when the person or victim is a man! It is very important to learn a noun's gender along with the noun itself because articles, adjectives, some pronouns, and some verbs have to agree with nouns; that is, they change depending on the gender of the noun they modify. The best way to learn the gender of French nouns is to make your vocabulary lists with the appropriate definite article or indefinite article. That is, rather than a list like this: livre - bookchaise - chair Make French vocabulary lists like this: un livre - bookune chaise - chair This will help you learn the gender with the noun. The gender is part of the noun and you will be much better off learning it now, as a beginner, than trying to go back after years of study and memorizing the genders of all the words you've already learned (we speak from experience). Also, there are quite a few French nouns with different meanings depending on whether they are masculine or feminine. Gender of French Nouns French nouns are always masculine or feminine, and you usually can't determine the gender just by looking at the word or thinking about what it means. While there are some tendencies in the gender of French nouns - see the table below - there are always exceptions. Please don't use these patterns as a way to avoid learning the genders of nouns - just learn each word as gender + noun and then you'll know them forever. Nearly all French nouns have different forms for singular and plural. In addition, many nouns that refer to people and animals have both a masculine and a feminine form. Ending is usually: -age masculine Exceptions: une cage, une image, une nage, une page, une plage, une rage -eau masculine Exceptions: l'eau, la peau -ée feminine Exceptions: un lycée, un musée -ion feminine Exceptions: un avion, un bastion, billion, un million, un lion, un scion -té feminine Exceptions: un comité, un invité In addition, most countries and names that end in e are feminine. French Nouns With Irregular Feminine Forms Most French nouns become feminine according to regular patterns, but there are a number of irregular nouns, based on the final letter(s) of the masculine singular noun. Nouns that end in a vowel plus L, N, or T usually become feminine by doubling the consonant before adding E. Ending: en > enne Noun: le gardien (guard)Masculine singular le gardienFeminine singular la gardienneMasculine plural les gardiensFeminine plural les gardiennes Ending: el > elle Noun: le colonel (colonel)Masculine singular le colonelFeminine singular la colonelleMasculine plural les colonelsFeminine plural les colonelles Nouns that end in er need a grave accent: Ending: er > ère Noun: le boulanger (baker)Masculine singular le boulangerFeminine singular la boulangèreMasculine plural les boulangersFeminine plural les boulangères The final letters eur have two possible irregular feminine endings: Ending: eur > euse Noun: un danseur (dancer)Masculine singular un danseurFeminine singular une danseuseMasculine plural des danseursFeminine plural des danseuses Ending: eur > rice Noun: un acteur (actor)Masculine singular un acteurFeminine singular une actriceMasculine plural des acteursFeminine plural des actrices Notes These rules are similar for making adjectives feminineThe rules for making nouns feminine apply only to people and some animals. They do not apply to objects, which have only one form: masculine or feminine.Compound nouns have their own gender rules. French Nouns With Irregular Plurals Most French nouns become plural according to regular patterns, but there are a number of irregular nouns, based on the final letter(s) of the singular noun. The endings al and ail change to aux in the plural: Noun: un cheval (horse)Masculine singular un chevalMasculine plural des chevaux Noun: un travail (task, job)Masculine singular un travailMasculine plural des travaux The endings au, eau, and eu take an X for plural: Noun: un tuyau (pipe, tip)Masculine singular un tuyauMasculine plural des tuyaux Noun: un château (castle)Masculine singular un châteauMasculine plural des châteaux Noun: un feu (fire)Masculine singular un feuMasculine plural des feux Continue Reading Understanding and Using French Adjectives Talking About 'These Girls' in French, It's 'Ces Filles' Not 'Cettes' Count the Many Ways the French Love Using Possessives French Articles Can Be Confusing — Here's How to Make Sense of Them Better/Best: What's the Equivalent in French? What Is Grammatical French Agreement? Tips to Improve Your French Vocabulary In French, Je Ne Sais Quoi Is More Than a Common Expression Need to Know the Gender of a French Noun? 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