You all know that in French, even inanimate objects are feminine or masculine. But did you know some French endings can tell you the gender of nouns? In this blog post, I’ll go over the masculine endings.
Making a list for the endings showing the French noun genders is not an easy thing. There are so many exceptions that I’m pretty sure you can always find words that don’t fit. So take this list with a grain of salt.
1 – French Nouns Ending Which Are Generally Masculine
- Nouns ending in b, c, cle, d, k, l, m, oir, p are typically masculine, but not that numerous in French.
- New words, often coming from English, like new technologies, ending in “ing” and “isme” are usually masculine.
Now, here are some common endings that are typically masculine. Unfortunately, they also come with exceptions…
2 – French Nouns Ending in Ège, É and Eau are Masculine
- Ège, for example le manège (merry go round), un arpège (arpagio)
An exception is La Norvège (Norway)
- É, as in le café (coffee or café), le canapé (the sofa), le carré (the square), le défilé (the procession), le supermarché (the supermarket).
Exceptions: la clé (key), la psyché…
- Eau, for example le bateau (the boat), le manteau (the coat), le chapeau (the hat), l’oiseau (the bird).
Important exceptions since they are very common words: l’eau (water) and la peau (skin).
3 – French Nouns Ending in Ment are Masculine
We have many nouns ending in “ment” in French, and they are masculine: le gouvernement (the government), un appartement (a flat), le commencement (the beginning), un abonnement (a subscription).
The one exception is la jument (the mare).
4 – French Nouns Ending in In are Masculine
For example le vin (the wine), le magasin (the shop), le dessin (the drawing), le chemin (the road, way), le jardin (the garden).
An exception is la fin (the end).
5 – French Nouns Ending in On are Masculine
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French Nouns ending in “on” are masculine, as in le salon (the sitting room), le poisson (the fish), le garçon (the boy), le pantalon (the trousers).
Watch out! A very common exception is la maison (the house).
6 – French Nouns Ending in S are Masculine
As in le bus (bus), le bas (bottom), le plus (the plus)…
Unfortunately, there are many exceptions: la brebis (female sheep), la fois (time), une oasis, la souris (mouse), la vis (screw)
7 – French Nouns Ending in Ier, Er and Eur are Masculine
French words ending in “ier and er” are masculine, such as in le fermier (the farmer), l’épicier (the grocer), le cahier (the notebook), le pommier (the apple tree), le boucher (the butcher), le boulanger (the baker) – many names of professions end in “ier”. Their feminine counterpart will end in ère or ière.
Eur is also a common masculine ending, as in le travailleur (the worker), un ascenseur (a lift), le moteur (the moteur (the motor), un aspirateur (a vacuum cleaner).
Exceptions include la douleur (the pain), la chaleur (the heat).
8 – French Nouns Ending in O are Masculine
For example le vélo (a bike), le zéro (zero)…
Exceptions: la météo (the weather forecast), la moto (motobike), la radio (radio)…
9 – French Nouns Ending in Age Tend to be Masculine
A common French masculine ending is “age”, for example le village (village) ,le garage (garage), le fromage (cheese)…..
But there are also many exceptions: une image (a picture), la plage (the beach), la nage (swimming), la cage (cage), la rage (rage)…
Note that le page is a page boy, but la page is the page of a book (or newspaper, etc.).
Voilà, I hope this list helps you make sense of the gender of nouns in French.
10 – How To Memorize French Noun Genders
Memorizing the gender of common nouns in French is maybe the most difficult thing for English speakers. First of all because you don’t have such a concept in English (a sofa bed is neutral: it. Not she or he…), second of all because… there are no precise rules to follow in French.
This list may help, however I highly recommend making sure you memorize the gender of French nouns at the same time as you memorize the noun itself: the two info should be really learned as one in French.
So, for example, never make lists with columns “feminine” and “masculine” and just write the French noun in them. You should ALWAYS have a French article to show the gender of the noun, and learn the article and the noun together, as one piece of information.
Beware of the internet – never work with a list of French noun which doesn’t repeat the article. I can’t repeat this enough: you need to learn the two concepts together.
And now, click here to access French endings which show feminine words.