How to avoid making mistakes in the masculine and feminine in French.

It’s one of the big challenge for native English speakers, the genders in French! I heard so many times, “why is this one feminine and this other masculine but this rule says this?”.

Gender marks in French can have some particular forms that we will see here. Don’t worry, by the end of this article everything will be clearer for you!

Before you continue, remember that making mistakes about gender, without knowing whether that noun is feminine or masculine, is no big deal! Everyone will still understand you, and that is the most important thing. It takes 600 words to have a conversation, and you don’t need to know every special case. That is why here we will look only at the most important ones.

Knowing if a noun is feminine or masculine in French

The first thing you need to know is whether the noun you hear or read is feminine or masculine so that you can use the correct article (le, la les, un, une…).

However, there are some tips to help you find your way.

As a general rule, if the word ends in E, it is likely to be a feminine name.

For names of countries, for example: la France, l’Italie, l’Espagne, l’Argentine… are all feminine words, ending with an E!

Categories of nouns that are generally feminine:

  • Store names: la boulangerie la boucherie la pharmacie.
  • Car brands : une Peugeot, une Audi, une Jaguar

Categories of nouns that are generally masculine:

  • The Seasons: un hiver doux, un été chaud
  • The months of the year: janvier, février…
  • Weekdays: le lundi je commence le travail

For you now, can you guess the gender of these names in French?

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The main rules of male and female agreement in French

In general, the adjective agrees with the noun as follows :

  • If female > an “e” is usually added.


  • Un allemand > une allemande
  • Un étudiant > une étudiante
  • Un français > une française

There are then some broad categories of exceptions.

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The ending “-eau” (m) / “-elle” (f)

  • beau (beautiful, handsome) > belle
  • nouveau (new) > nouvelle

The ending “-el” (m) / “-elle” (f)

  • un intellectuel (an intellectual) > une intellectuelle
  • naturel (natural) > naturelle

The ending “-er” (m) / “-ère” (f)

  • un étranger (a foreigner) > une étrangère
  • premier (first) > première

The ending “-t” (m) / “-tte” (f)

  • un chat (a cat) > une chatte

The ending “-ien” (m) / “-ienne” (f)

  • un Canadien > une Canadienne
  • Un chien (a dog) > une chienne

The ending “-teur” (m) > “-teuse” / “-trice” (f)

  • un menteur (a liar) > une menteuse
  • un acteur (an actor) > une actrice

The ending “-eux” (m) > “-euse” (f)

  • heureux (happy) > heureuse
  • généreux (generous) > généreuse

Finally, many also remain the same in French:

  • Un riche > Une riche
  • Un secrétaire > Une secrétaire (secratary)

Note: If the noun or adjective in the singular ends in s, x or z, its plural form will be the same.
– Un pays incroyable / des pays incroyables
– Un bon choix / des bons choix

Now it’s your turn!

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Does it seem impossible to memorize everything? Tell yourself that it’s not that important at first. Don’t spend too much time on these cases, they will gradually become familiar to you, but know that they exist.

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