Masculine and Feminine in French (2023)

It’s essential to understand the difference between masculine and feminine in French. Knowing the difference between them will dictate what words you have to use, particularly when it comes to determiners (e.g. articles), pronouns, and adjectives.

Old English used to have grammatical genders, but they fell out of use. Modern English is much simpler and does not distinguish between them. For example, in English, we just use “the” for everything whether it’s masculine/feminine or singular/plural. That’s not the case in French. That’s why many English speakers struggle with this aspect of French.

Don’t worry, though. Even for Spanish speakers and other speakers whose languages have genders, we sometimes make mistakes when telling genders apart. That’s why we put together this guide to help you better understand this subject. Let’s see the differences between le masculin and le féminin. Allons-y!

Definite Articles

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When you learn French, you will notice that most nouns are paired with articles. This is to indicate a noun is masculine/feminine and singular/plural. Gender matters in French.

Let’s start with definite articles. In English, the only definite article is “the”. Gender doesn’t matter. We can say the table, the chair, the house, the cars, etc. Simple, right?

However, French has four definite articles which are: le, la, l’, and les. We have to determine the gender of a word so we know which one to use. Let’s break this down.

We use le for masculine singular nouns. Examples: le frigo (the refrigerator), le ventilateur (the fan), le lapin (the rabbit), etc.

We use la for feminine singular nouns. Examples: la voiture (the car), la chaise (the chair), la table (the table), etc.

We use l’ for both masculine singular and feminine singular nouns. In reality, it’s the contraction of the articles le and la, but we switch them to l’ when they precede a noun starting with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u). We also use l’ in most cases where it precedes a noun starting with h. Examples: l’ordinateur (the computer), l’ami (the friend), l’école (the school), l’homme (the man), l’hôpital (the hospital), etc.

Finally, we have les. We use it for plural nouns, whether they’re masculine or feminine. Examples: les chiens (the dogs), les arbres (the trees), les mots (the words), etc.

(Video) How to identify feminine and masculine in French - 5 Easy TIPS

Indefinite Articles

English has only two indefinite articles: a and an. On the other hand, French has three: un, une, and des.

For masculine singular nouns, we use un. Examples: un portable (a cell phone), un garçon (a boy), un plat (a dish), etc.

For feminine singular nouns, we use une. Examples: une fille (a girl), une voiture (a car), une fenêtre (a window), etc.

For plural nouns, we use des. It doesn’t matter if the nouns are masculine or feminine. The English equivalent is some. Examples: des livres (some books), des jours (some days), des boîtes (some boxes), etc.

Partitive Articles

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As the name implies, partitive articles have to do with the parts of something. We use them to refer to a portion or unspecified amount of foods, drinks, or other uncountable nouns.

There are four articles of this kind: du, de la, de l’, and des. They all have to agree in gender and quantity with the nouns they precede.

For masculine singular nouns, we use du. Examples: du lait (some milk), du jus (some juice), du beurre (some butter), etc.

For feminine singular nouns, we use de la. Examples: de la viande (some meat), de la patience (some patience), de la glace (some ice cream), etc.

We use de l’ for both masculine and feminine singular nouns. Examples: de l’argent (some money), de l’eau (some water), de l’amour (some love), etc.

Finally, for plural we use des. This applies to both masculine and feminine nouns. Examples: des pommes (some apples), des gâteaux (some cakes), des lettres (some letters), etc.

(Video) Gender of French Words: Masculin vs Feminin

In English, there is no equivalent article. Linguists translate them to “some” or “any”, but more often than not, they’re not even used.

How to Distinguish Masculine from Feminine

How do we know what is masculine and what is feminine? That’s the $64,000 question, right?

Well, in most cases, we can know the gender of a word by its ending. I said most cases because there are some exceptions. Some words are either masculine or feminine regardless of their ending. More of that later.

Look at the table below for some of the most common noun endings in French. Let’s start with masculine nouns.

le pré, le résumé
-ienle comédien, le musicien
-eurle ventilateur, le vendeur
-(i)erle boucher, le fermier
-teurle tuteur, l’acteur
-onle patron, le ballon
-agele garage, le village
-eaule bateau, le chapeau
-all’hôpital, le cheval
-etle billet, le ticket
-entl’accident, le client
-asme/-ismele sarcasme, le tourisme
-aille travail, le détail
-inle coussin, le lapin
-oirle lissoir, le comptoir

Now let’s take a look at some typical feminine endings.

-essela paresse, la jeunesse
-iennela comédienne, la musicienne
-eusela danseuse, la serveuse
-(i)èrela cousinière, la cochère
-tricel’actrice, la directrice
-onnela baronne, la personne
-adela limonade, la fusillade
-ance/-encela différance, la présidence
-éela soirée, la vallée
-ettela baguette, la facette
-ellela citronnelle, la passerelle
-iel’allergie, la modestie
-isela maîtrise, la bêtise
-inela grenadine, la tartine
-aillela médaille, la bataille
-t(i)éla dynastie, la sortie
-urela culture, la peinture

Nouns That Are Always or Generally Masculine

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Some words are always masculine or feminine regardless of their ending. The nouns listed below are always masculine.

  • Days (le lundi, le mardi, le mercredi…)
  • Months (janvier, février, mars…)
  • Seasons (le printemps, l’été, l’automne, l’hiver)
  • Colors (le rouge, le bleu, le jaune…)
  • Numbers (le zéro, le deux, le trois…)
  • Letters (le a, le b, le c…)
  • Languages (l’anglais, l’espagnol, le français…)
  • Cardinal points (le nord, le sud, l’est, l’ouest)
  • Metals (l’or, l’argent, le plomb…)
  • Infinitives when used as nouns (le pouvoir, le devoir, le choisir…)
  • Wines (le champagne, le merlot, le pinot noir…)

The nouns listed below are generally masculine.

  • Drinks (le café, le thé, le jus…)
  • Foods that don’t end in -e (le haricot, le thon, le maïs…)
  • Minerals (le sel, le mica, le gypse…)
  • Trees (le palmier, l’oranger, le chêne…)
  • Weights and measures (le meter, le litre, le gram…)
  • Words borrowed from English (le challenge, le parking, le week-end…)

Nouns That Are Always or Generally Feminine

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The following nouns are always feminine.

  • Quantities ending in -aine (une dizaine, une centaine…)
  • Cars (une Porsche, une Volkswagen…)
  • Continents (l’Europe, l’Asie…)
  • Holidays and festivals with saint in their names (la Saint-Valentin, la Saint-Sylvestre…)
  • Planets (la Terre, la Pluton…)
  • Watches (une Rolex, une Tag Heuer…)

The following nouns are generally feminine.

(Video) Ask a French Teacher - How Can I Tell if a Noun is Masculine or Feminine?

  • Academic disciplines (la philosophie, la chimie…)
  • Most foods ending in -e (la tomate, la banane…)

Cities, States, and Countries

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Not only do things have genders in French, but cities, states, and countries do, too! In fact, it would be safe to say everything has a gender in French.

Before you start pulling out your hair, I will teach you a simple rule. Most places ending in -e are feminine. The rest are masculine.

Of course, there are a few exceptions. The following countries are masculine even though they end in -e:

  • le Mexique (Mexico)
  • le Bélize (Belize)
  • le Cambodge (Cambodia)
  • le Mozambique (Mozambique)
  • le Zaïre (Zaire)
  • le Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)

For cities, gender is no big deal since there are still some controversies among scholars. However, for states and countries, it’s important to understand gender because this will tell us what prepositions to use with them. We will talk about this in further detail in a later post.

Job Titles

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Most job titles are either masculine or feminine. The same rules we mentioned above regarding endings apply here.

However, some job titles only use the masculine form for both men and women.


un/une ingénieur

un/une médecin

(Video) Why are French words masculine and feminine? Finally understand gender in French

un/une professeur

Other job titles only have feminine forms.


une femme de ménage

une hôtesse de l’air

There is some controversy regarding not only professions but the whole French language arising out of feminism and the gender equality movement. We won’t cover that here but will probably do in the future.


All French words have a gender. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to know whether a noun is masculine or feminine.

The good thing is, there are many shortcuts you can take to get the correct answer. Today, you learned you can guide yourself by the ending of a word. You also learned that several words are always or generally masculine/feminine depending on specific circumstances. By following these shortcuts, you will be able to determine the gender of a noun correctly in most cases.

There are some exceptions in French, but they’re not too many. You will have to memorize them.

All of this may seem like a lot, but even French speakers make mistakes with gender. Just keep learning and practicing.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Au revoir!

(Video) Feminine or Masculine words in French? Understanding French genders!

Masculine and Feminine in French (7)
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Masculine and Feminine in French (8)


How do you remember if a French word is masculine or feminine? ›

The best place to start when trying to figure out the gender of a French word is by looking at the ending of the word. Words that use the articles le or un are going to be masculine, and words that use the articles la or une are feminine.

What words are masculine and feminine in French? ›

How to Tell if a Noun is Masculine or Feminine in French?
  • A noun is feminine if it ends in “-e” or “-ion.”
  • The exceptions to this are the endings “-age,” “-ège,” or “-isme.”
  • Nearly every other noun ending is masculine.

What are masculine and feminine endings in French? ›

The gender of words in French – as well as their grammatical and social implications – can be complicated. If there's only one thing you take away from this article, it should be that the majority of words ending in -e or -ion are feminine while words with other endings are mostly masculine.

What is the masculine and feminine of France in French? ›

France is la France in French, which classifies it as a feminine noun. It's pronounced ''FRAHns. '' La France est plus petite que le Canada.

Is there a rule for masculine and feminine in French? ›

Many masculine French nouns can be made feminine simply by changing the ending. This is usually done by adding an -e to the masculine noun to form the feminine. If the masculine singular form already ends in -e, no further e is added.

Is pizza masculine or feminine in French? ›

pizza noun, feminine

J'ai mangé la pizza entière parce que j'avais faim. — I ate the whole pizza because I was hungry. J'ai mis une pizza au four. — I popped a pizza in the oven.

What are 5 feminine nouns in French? ›

elle, enne, emme, esse, erre, ette… La pelle (shovel), une selle (saddle), la chaussette (the sock), la fillette (the little girl), La tristesse (sadness), la terre (earth), la femme (woman)…

What are some masculine French words? ›

French Nouns Ending in Ier, Er and Eur are Masculine

French words ending in “ier and er” are masculine, such as in le fermier (the farmer), l'épicier (the grocer), le cahier (the notebook), le pommier (the apple tree), le boucher (the butcher), le boulanger (the baker) – many names of professions end in “ier”.

What endings are feminine? ›

"Masculine ending" refers to a line ending in a stressed syllable. "Feminine ending" is its opposite, describing a line ending in a stressless syllable.

What are 10 French words? ›

Learn Some Common French Words
  • Bonjour = Hello, Good morning.
  • Au revoir = Goodbye.
  • Oui = Yes.
  • Non = No.
  • Merci = Thank you.
  • Merci beaucoup = Thank you very much.
  • Fille = Girl.
  • Garçon = Boy.

Is Age masculine or feminine in French? ›

* Attention : French nouns with the suffix -age are always masculine – see Masculine noun endings.

What is a feminine in French? ›

[feminɛ̃ ] Word forms: féminin, féminine. adjective. 1. [ sexe] female.

What is masculine and feminine? ›

Masculine nouns refer to words for a male figure or male member of a species (i.e. man, boy, actor, horse, etc.) Feminine nouns refer to female figures or female members of a species (i.e. woman, girl, actress, mare, etc.)

Is car masculine or feminine in French? ›

In French, the word for “car” (“voiture”) is feminine. Therefore: J'ai acheté une (voiture) Mercedes.

Who decides the gender of French words? ›

No explanations exist as to why French nouns have a gender or how the gender of any noun was originally determined, so you cannot rely on a rule to guide you; however, certain endings do generally indicate a feminine or masculine noun.

Is Cafe masculine or feminine? ›

Answer and Explanation: The word café is a masculine noun. Be sure to use masculine articles and adjectives with it.

Is crayon masculine or feminine in French? ›

Since the noun crayon (pencil) is masculine if you want to say the pencil you would say: le crayon.

Is salad in French feminine? ›

Answer and Explanation: Salad is la salade in French, a feminine noun.

Why is orange feminine in French? ›

Exception: “Orange” is only masculine as a color – as a fruit it's feminine. Same thing for “rose.” As a color, it's masculine, but as a flower, it's feminine. Exception: Most shrubs are also masculine, but vines are feminine (la vigne).

Is lemon feminine in French? ›

"An apple and a lemon, please." Sasha Lee: Une pomme et un citron, s'il vous plaît. Michael: Here, the word for "apple" is feminine and the word for "lemon" is masculine.

What words are feminine? ›

synonyms for feminine
  • female.
  • femalelike.
  • gentle.
  • soft.
  • tender.
  • womanish.
  • womanlike.
  • womanly.

What are examples of feminine? ›

Feminine is the opposite of masculine. If it has anything to do with girls and women, it's considered feminine. Anything feminine is associated with females. In American culture, that includes wearing pink, playing with dolls, sporting high heels, and getting weepy during sad movies.

Is weekend masculine or feminine in French? ›

Are days of the week masculine or feminine in French? Days of the week are always masculine in French.

Is Banana masculine or feminine in French? ›

French Words on Instagram: “Banane (feminine word) | Banana | /ba.

Is Moi masculine or feminine? ›

Disjunctive pronouns
first personmoi
second personinformaltoi
third personmasculinelui
1 more row

Why is table feminine in French? ›

Some words ending tend to show the French word is masculine, and there are also some feminine word endings, but most of the time you can't guess and just have to memorize the gender of the noun by heart. For example: a book in French is masculine, un livre. a table is feminine, une table.

What is lazy in French masculine? ›

If you are a man in you want to say I am lazy you would say, “Je suis paresseux.” This is the masculine form of the adjective. If you are a woman you must use the feminine form.

What are the 100 most common words in French? ›

100 most frequently used French words
  • le (det.) the; (pron.) him, her, it, them.
  • de (det.) some, any; (prep.) of, from.
  • un (det.) a, an; (adj., pron.) one.
  • à (prep.) to, at, in.
  • être (verb) to be; (noun [m. ]) being.
  • et (conj.) and.
  • en (prep.) in, by; (adv., pron.)
  • avoir (verb) to have; (noun [m. ]) assets.

What is the rules of feminine? ›

By Adding a Syllable (—ess, —ine, —trix, —a, etc.) We can also make a feminine word by adding syllables at the end of masculine word. Syllable -ess is added after dropping the vowel of the masculine ending. we add suffixes -ine, -a, -trix to form feminine form.

Why is Calle feminine? ›

Feminine nouns that end with “e” (exceptions): The street – La calle.

What is the prettiest French word? ›

15 Most Beautiful Words in French
  • Douceur.
  • Feuilleter.
  • Onirique.
  • Flâner.
  • Chuchoter.
  • Rêvasser.
  • Éphémère.
  • Émerveiller.

How can I speak French easily? ›

Step 2: Create a Mini-France in Your Home
  1. Turn your smartphone into a French speaker. Switch the language settings on your phone to French. ...
  2. Look for French speakers in your city. ...
  3. Watch French TV and movies. ...
  4. Read articles and books in French. ...
  5. Listen to French radio and podcasts (my favourite is FrenchPod101).

What is the easiest French word? ›

Basic French words at a glance

Bonjour. Hello. Merci. Thank you. Merci beaucoup.

Is Children feminine in French? ›

The word 'child' in French is l'enfant, and it is masculine in gender.

Is school masculine or feminine French? ›

School, the generic term is l'école (feminine, singular).

Is Date feminine in French? ›

« date » is a feminine noun so will always use « la » as definite article. Days of the week and months of the year are also always masculine, as are the seasons. Date is a feminine noun. so we use quelle (not quel).

What is your love feminine French? ›

There aren't many French terms of endearment more romantic than mon amour, which means “my love” in French. Is it ma amour or mon amour? Whether you're speaking to a man or a woman, the term is the same: mon amour.

What is cool in French feminine? ›

adjective. 1. frais (FEM fraîche)

Is pain feminine in French? ›

pain noun, masculine (plural: pains m)

Mon père est allé à la boulangerie acheter du pain. My father went to the bakery to buy some bread. J'ai coupé trois tranches de pain. I cut three slices of bread.

What are the 10 example of masculine? ›

Examples of Masculine Gender
  • Man.
  • Boy.
  • Uncle.
  • Grandfather.
  • Bachelor.
  • Mayor.
  • Baron.
  • Ox.

What is the differences between female and feminine? ›

People sometimes use female to talk about young women, in order to avoid using `woman' or `girl'. He asked if a white female of a certain age had checked into the hotel. Feminine means `having qualities that are traditionally considered to be typical of women, especially being pretty or gentle'.

Why do they use masculine and feminine? ›

It's an inheritance from our distant past. Researchers believe that Proto-Indo-European had two genders: animate and inanimate. It can also, in some cases, make it easier to use pronouns clearly when you're talking about multiple objects.

Is horse feminine in French? ›

Answer and Explanation: The word in French for horse is cheval. This is pronounced 'shev al. ' It is a masculine noun, so if you wanted to say 'the horse,' be sure to use the masculine definite article: le cheval.

Is teacher masculine or feminine in French? ›

There are some nouns that express entities with gender for which there is only one form, which is used regardless of the actual gender of the entity, for example, the word for person; personne; is always feminine, even if the person is male, and the word for teacher; professeur; is always masculine even if the teacher ...

Why is Maison feminine? ›

The feminine noun maison (house) takes the form of la maison (the house), une maison (a house), or les maisons (the houses). For more on article use, see indefinite articles, definite articles, and partitive articles.

How do you know when to use Le or LA in French? ›

In French, the definite articles are placed before a common noun: “Le” before a common noun in the singular masculine. Example: le bus. “La” before a common noun in the singular feminine.

How do you find UN and UNE in French? ›

In French there are only two. Un for the masculine noun. Une for the feminine noun. The plural “some” in English corresponds to “des.” In French.

How to know if a word is masculine or feminine in French reddit? ›

Suffixes and endings like -tion, -sion, -ssion, -ité, -aison, -ure/-ûre, and -èque, are typically feminine. Others like -ment or -isme are masculine.

Is it Le pizza or La pizza? ›

So does that mean Pizza is feminine? Pizza is feminine in Italian, so the noun was imported into the French language with its original gender. La pizza= the pizza If you write "l'pizza" instead, is it still correct?

Is it Le Cafe or La Cafe in French? ›

The word café is a masculine noun. Be sure to use masculine articles and adjectives with it. For example, J'aime le café uses the masculine definite article, le.

Why do French people say LA at the end of sentences? ›

French demonstrative adjectives on their own don't distinguish between "this/these" and "that/those," so you can add –là to a noun in order to specify "that" noun / "those" nouns as opposed to "this" noun / "these" nouns.

What are some French masculine nouns? ›

French Nouns Ending in Ier, Er and Eur are Masculine

French words ending in “ier and er” are masculine, such as in le fermier (the farmer), l'épicier (the grocer), le cahier (the notebook), le pommier (the apple tree), le boucher (the butcher), le boulanger (the baker) – many names of professions end in “ier”.

What are examples of UNE in French? ›

The French Indefinite Article UNE
  • Une idée – An idea.
  • Une télévision – A television.
  • Une plante – A plant.
  • Une montre – A watch.
  • Une femme – A woman.
  • Une photo – A picture.
  • Une balade – A walk.
  • Une feuille – A piece of paper.

What is a feminine noun in French? ›

All the nouns ending in a double consonant + e are usually feminine. elle, enne, emme, esse, erre, ette… La pelle (shovel), une selle (saddle), la chaussette (the sock), la fillette (the little girl), La tristesse (sadness), la terre (earth), la femme (woman)… An exception is le squelette (the skeleton)

How can you tell masculine from feminine? ›

How do I know whether a word is masculine or feminine?
  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. ...
  3. Nouns with these endings will (generally) be feminine:

How do you tell the difference between masculine and feminine nouns that end in e? ›

A noun that ends in the letter –e may be either masculine or feminine. If a noun ending in – e refers to an object, it is usually a masculine word, but not always. It is safest to memorize the gender of these words by learning them with an article. There are more than a few feminine nouns that end in – e.

How do you distinguish masculine and feminine adjectives? ›

Feminine and Masculine Forms of Adjectives
  1. Gender Agreement.
  2. Most adjectives form the feminine from the masculine by adding -e, including adjectives ending with é:
  3. Note: adjectives ending in -e have the same masculine and feminine forms:
  4. Adjectives ending in -x form the feminine by changing -x to -se:


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