Nouns in French | French Grammar

Oct 20, 2021


What is a noun?

A noun is one of the eight parts of speech. It is a naming word. it could refer to a person, animal, place or thing.

Gender of nouns.

In French, all nouns have a gender. They are either masculine or famine. Whether they refer to living or non-living things.

To know which nouns are masculine and which are feminine, look at the articles (le (the)or la(the),  un(a)or une(a)) proceeding it. Le and un before a noun tell you that noun is masculine. While la and une before a noun tells you the noun is feminine

It is important to know the gender of nouns as this affects the forms of other words that are used with it or that replace it, such as: articles, adjectives and pronouns.

The best way to find out the gender of a noun is to use a dictionary, but there are some rules to help you determine which nouns are masculine and which are feminine.

Gender of nouns: some indicators.

Most nouns referring to men and boys are masculine. Example:

Nouns. Meaning.
Un garçon. a boy.
Un homme. a man.
Le roi. the King.

Most nouns referring to women and girls are feminine. Example :

Nouns Meaning
Une fille a girl
Une femme a woman
La reine a queen

Some words for people have one possible gender, whether you are referring to a male or a female.  Example:

Nouns. Meaning.
Une personne. a person (male or female).
Un bébé . a baby (boy or girl).
Un guide. a male or female guide.
Une victime. a male or female victim.

When the same word is used to refer to either men or women, its gender changes depending on the sex of the person it is referring to. Example :

Nouns. Meaning.
Un camarade. a male friend.
Une camarade. a female friend.
un Suisse a man from Switzerland.
une Suisse. a woman from Switzerland.

Some nouns can change from masculine to feminine when the ending changes. Example:

Nouns. Meaning.
Un étudiant a male Student.
Une étudiante. a female Student.
Un prince a prince.
Une princesse a princess.
Un ami a male friend.
Une amie a female friend.

Some words have different meanings depending on whether they are used in the masculine or famine sense. Example :

Masculine nouns Meaning Feminine nouns. Meaning.
Un livre a book. Une livre. a pound
Un tour a turn. une tour. tower.
Un mode. a method. la mode. fashion.
un post. a job post la poste post office.

You can sometimes tell the gender of a noun by its ending.
These endings are often found in feminine nouns.

Endings. Examples. Meaning.
-ance. la chance luck.
-anse. la danse patience.
-ense. la défense defence.
-ion. la circulation traffic.
-té. une spécialité a speciality.
-tié. la moitié half.

These endings are often found on masculine nouns:

Endings. Examples. Meaning.
- age. un voyage. a journey.
-ment. un appartement. a flat.
-oir. un miroir. a mirror.
-sme. le tourisme. tourism.
-eau. un cadeau. a present.
- eu. un jeu. a game.
-ou. un chou. a cabbage.
-ier. un escalier. a staircase.
-in. un jardin. a garden.
-on. Un ballon. a ball.

Note that there are always exceptions to these rules.

The following words are also masculine :

Days of the week.

Example :

vendredi -  Thursday

samedi -  Saturday

Months of the year. Example :

juillet - July.

october - October.

Seasons of the year.

Example :

l'automne - Autumn

l'hiver - Winter.

Names of Languages.

Example :

le français - French.

Metric weights and measures.

Example :

un mètre - a metre.

un gramme - a gramme.

English nouns used in French.

Example :

le football - football.

le tee-shirt - tee-shirt.


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