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Making French Nouns Feminine and Plural

Féminisation et pluralisation de noms

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Like English nouns, nearly all French nouns have different forms for singular and plural. In addition, many French nouns that refer to people and animals have both a masculine and a feminine form, which means there can be up to four forms of each noun. The different forms for nouns depend mostly on the final letter(s) of the default form of the noun, which is the masculine singular.

Most French nouns add E for feminine and S for plural. This rule applies to nouns that end in most consonants as well as all vowels except the unaccented E:

Noun: avocat (lawyer)
   Masculine singular   avocat
   Feminine singular   avocate
   Masculine plural   avocats
   Feminine plural   avocates

Noun: ami (friend)
   Masculine singular   ami
   Feminine singular   amie
   Masculine plural   amis
   Feminine plural   amies

Noun: invité (guest)
   Masculine singular   invité
   Feminine singular   invitée
   Masculine plural   invités
   Feminine plural   invitées


When the masculine singular noun ends in an unaccented E, there is no difference between the masculine and feminine forms:

Noun: touriste (tourist)
   Masculine singular   touriste
   Feminine singular   touriste
   Masculine plural   touristes
   Feminine plural   touristes


When a noun ends in S, X, or Z there is no difference between the singular and plural forms:

Noun: le fils (son)
   Masculine singular   le fils
   Masculine plural   les fils

Noun: le gaz (gas)
   Masculine singular   le gaz
   Masculine plural   les gaz


While most French nouns fit into one of the above categories, there are still quite a few that have irregular feminine forms and/or irregular plurals.


Notes
  • These rules are similar for making adjectives feminine and plural
     
  • The rules for making nouns feminine apply only to people and some animals. They do not apply to objects, which have only one form: masculine or feminine.
     
  • Compound nouns have their own gender and plural rules.
French noun gender quiz
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