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Noun Gender

Introduction

pineapple with moustache

French nouns are either Monsieurs or Madams. Interestingly, native speakers associate masculine qualities with masculine nouns and feminine qualities with feminine nouns. Ideally, when learning a noun you should learn its gender as well. A French friend of mine suggested I put skirts on the feminine objects in the pictorial guide, and maybe a little mustache on the masculine objects. So far I haven't had time to wrap a skirt around la banane or put pantyhose on l'araignée, but maybe you can use your imagination.

People nouns

People nouns are generally easy.  If a person is a male then the noun is masculine and a masculine article is used, if the person is female then the noun is feminine and a feminine article is used.

  acrobate acrobat comptable accountant gosse kid
  adulte adult concierge caretaker hypocrite hypocrite
  aide helper cycliste cyclist journaliste journalist
  aristocrate aristocrat dentiste dentist juge judge
  artiste artist élève student nationaliste nationalist
  astronaute astronout enfant child pirate pirate
  bureaucrate bureaucrat fleuriste florist scientifique scientist
  camarade comrade    

 

 

 
Elle embrasse un cycliste.
She is kissing a cyclist (male).
Many people nouns have masculine and a feminine forms.

  l'employé
le fermier
le cousin
l'anglais
le champion
l'européen
le vendeur
l'acteur
le veuf 
l'employée
la fermière
la cousine
l'anglaise
la championne 
l'européenne
la vendeuse
l'actrice
la veuve
employee
farmer
cousin
Englishman/woman
champion 
european
salesman/woman
actor/actress
widower/widow

There are people nouns, however, which are always of a particular gender no matter what the sex of the person.

  la vedette 
le capitaine 
le savant 
le mannequin
le clown
le pilot
star (actor/actress)
captain
wise person
fashion model
clown
pilot

Paul Belmondo est ma vedette préférée.
Paul Belmondo is my favorite actor/star.

Practice the gender of people nouns

Animals

Some animals have both male and female versions.

  un homme
un chat
un chien
un ours
un rat
un cheval
un taureau
un coq
un renard
une femme
une chatte
une chienne
une ourse
une rate
une jument
une vache
une poule
une renarde
human
cat
dog
bear
rat
horse
bull/cow
rooster/chicken
fox

Most species of animals are either masculine or feminine and both species of animals are referred to with the same gender.

  le zèbre
l'oiseau m.
le hibou
le crapaud
la girafe
l'huître f.
zebra
bird
owl
toad
giraffe
oyster
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