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Feminine and Masculine Nouns

Part 1: Determining the gender of a noun by its ending

One of the main differences between English and French is that the French language has genders. In French, there are masculine nouns and feminine nouns. Sometimes nouns are either feminine or masculine and sometimes masculine nouns have their feminine form. To find the feminine of a noun, you generally add “e” at the end of the masculine noun. But this rule doesn’t apply to a lot of nouns. In this lesson, we will study how to determine the gender of a noun through its ending.

Let’s start with the main rule:

To form the feminine of a noun we usually add an “e” to the end of a noun. For example:

masculine feminine
un ami une amie
un client une cliente
un Français une Française
un avocat une avocate
un cousin une cousine

Masculine nouns are preceded by the determinants: un or le or l’
Feminine nouns are preceded by the determinants : une or la or l’

How do we know whether a noun is feminine or masculine? For a native speaker, finding the feminine of a noun is easy even for uncommon nouns. For a French learner, it’s not that obvious. We have selected in this lesson some clues that will help you decide whether the noun is feminine or masculine. The first clue is the ending of a noun. The noun ending can be a good indicator to determine whether a noun is masculine or feminine:

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