French Masculine or Feminine Nouns

If you're English then one of the daunting things about learning French is that all nouns are either masculine or feminine.

If you're describing a man (homme) or a girl (fille), then it's pretty obvious what the gender is, but what if you're describing a table or a wardrobe?  Is a table male or female?

Rather than thinking about the characteristics of the object, look at the endings of the noun.  The main rules are as follows:

  1. If the noun ends in -e it's feminine, if it ends in anything else, it's masculine.  This simple rule will give you the correct gender 70% of the time!
  2. Two feminine exceptions are nouns ending in -son or -ion.  These are both femine (a handy mnemonic to remember this is of a feminine son with an iron).  An exception to this exception is 'avion' (plane) which is masculine.
  3. Eight common masculine exceptions are nouns ending in:
  • -ège   -ble 
  • -age   -cle 
  • -ème  -one
  • -isme  -tre

One way to remember this is to use the following mnemonic:

allège probable camouflage vehicle problème, phone capitalisme centre

If you remember this phrase, then you can work out from each of the 3-letter endings which nouns are masculine.

There are other exceptions, which you can read on Duolingo, however this will give you a very solid start on learning your French noun genders.

Learn French masculine or feminine nouns
French feminine language -son and -ion
Mnemonic for Masculine Nouns