1. Education

French Gender - Masculine Endings

Using French suffixes to find the gender of nouns


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.

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


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

   Exception: la fac (apocope of la faculté)

   Exception: une boucle


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

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

   Exceptions: l'eau, la peau

   Exception: la Norvège


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

   Exceptions: la soif, la clef, la nef

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




   Exception: une roseval

   Exception: la faim

   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

   Exception: une jument

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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


   Obscure exceptions are not listed.

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

   Please share your comments/additions/critiques on the forum.
Related Video
French Dialogues: Travel, Hotels, and Accommodations
French Dialogues: Eating Out
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. French Language
  4. French Grammar
  5. Nouns
  6. French Gender - Masculine and Feminine Endings of French Nouns

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.