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French Gender - Masculine Endings

Using French suffixes to find the gender of nouns

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Some French gender patterns
Some French gender patterns - click for full-size
French gender is a constant headache for many students of French. Why is manteau masculine and montre feminine, when both men and women wear both of them? What's the logic behind gender in French? There's no simple answer to this question, and no simple way to know the gender of every noun other than just learning the gender with each word. There are, however, some patterns in suffixes and word endings - certain endings tend to indicate masculine nouns, while other endings favor feminine nouns. As you can see by the lists of exceptions, these gender patterns are not fool-proof, but they can help you to figure out the gender of many French nouns.

Here are some suffixes that usually indicate masculine nouns, as well as some important exceptions.

-age
   Exceptions: la cage, une image, la nage, la page, la plage, la rage

-b

-ble
   Exceptions: une cible, une étable, une fable, une table

-c
   Exception: la fac (apocope of la faculté)

-cle
   Exception: une boucle

-d

-de
   Exceptions: la bride, la merde, la méthode, la pinède; -ade, -nde, -ude endings


   Exceptions: la clé, la psyché; sé, té, and tié endings

-eau
   Exceptions: l'eau, la peau

-ège
   Exception: la Norvège

-et

-eur
   Note: this applies mainly to names of professions and mechanical/scientific things; also see -eur on the feminine endings page

-f
   Exceptions: la soif, la clef, la nef

-i
   Exceptions: la foi, la fourmi, la loi, la paroi

-ing

-isme

-k

-l
   Exception: une roseval


-m
   Exception: la faim

-me
   Exceptions: une alarme, une âme, une arme, la cime, la coutume, la crème, l'écume, une énigme, une estime, une ferme, une firme, une forme, une larme, une plume, une rame, une rime, -mme ending

-ment
   Exception: une jument

-n
   Exceptions: la façon, la fin, la leçon, la main, la maman, la rançon; -son and -ion endings

-o
   Exceptions: la dactylo, la dynamo, la libido, la météo, la moto, la steno (most of these are apocopes of longer feminine words)

-oir

-one

-ou

-p

-r
   Exceptions: la chair, la cour, la cuiller, la mer, la tour (see feminine -eur)

-s
   Exceptions: la brebis, la fois, une oasis, la souris, la vis

-ste
   Exceptions: la liste, la modiste, la piste; names for people like un(e) artiste, un(e) nudiste, etc.

-t
   Exceptions: la burlat, la dent, la dot, la forêt, la jument, la mort, la nuit, la part, la plupart, la ziggourat

-tre
   Exceptions: la fenêtre, une huître, la lettre, la montre, la rencontre, la vitre

-u
   Exceptions: l'eau, la peau, la tribu, la vertu

-x
   Exceptions: la croix, la noix, la paix, la toux, la voix


Notes

   Obscure exceptions are not listed.

   To avoid confusion, dual-gender nouns are not listed.

   Please share your comments/additions/critiques on the forum.
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