Unformatted text preview: Lesson 1.01 - Basic Grammar
G: Gender of nouns
In French, all nouns have a grammatical gender; that is, they are either masculin (m) or feminin (f).
Most nouns that express people or animals have both a masculine and a feminine form. For example, the two
words for "the actor" in French are l'acteur (m) and l'actrice (f). The two words for "the cat" are le chat (m)
and la chatte (f).
However, there are some nouns that talk about people or animals whose gender are fixed, regardless of the
actual gender of the person or animal. For example, la personne (f) (the person) is always feminine, even
when it's talking about your uncle! Le professeur (m) (the professor) is always masculine, even when it's
talking about your female professor/teacher!
The nouns that express things without an obvious gender (e.g., objects and abstract concepts) have only one
form. This form can be masculine or feminine. For example, la voiture (the car) can only be feminine; le
stylo (the pen) can only be masculine.
Unfortunately, there are many exceptions in French which can only be learned. There are even words that
are spelled the same, but have a different meaning when masculine or feminine; for example, le livre (m)
means the book, but la livre (f) means the pound! Some words that appear to be masculine (like le photo,
which is actually short for la photographie) are in fact feminine, and vice versa. Then there are some that
just don't make sense; la foi is feminine and means a belief, whereas le foie means liver. To help overcome
this hurdle which many beginners find very difficult, be sure to learn the genders along with the words.
When you think of a noun in French, think of the noun with its article (le or la). While this may seem
difficult now, it is absolutely essential in la langue française (the French language), as you will see later on!
Here is a chart which depicts some tendencies of French nouns. Eventually, you will be able to guess the
gender of a noun based on tricks like this:...
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