Nouns and genders

French: This chair is feminine! La chaise!

Italian: This chair is feminine! La sedia!

German: This chair is masculine! Der Stuhl!

English: This chair is a fucking object, I don’t see a skirt or a pair of trousers anywhere on its cold hard surface, you people are insane.

You may have come across this joke before on Facebook. It is true that the concept of genders for inanimate object is quite a puzzle for English people trying to learn French as they are not used to that.

Every noun in French is either masculine or feminine. This is its gender and it is very important, especially as articles and adjectives agree with nouns.

Therefore, when you learn a new word, make sure that you learn its gender too.

Words that finish with-et, -isme, -ment, –ège, -age, -ou, -eau, -ier, -eur, -acle , -ail  or a consonant are usually masculine.

Words that finish in -tion, -aison, -ette, -esse, -ence, -ance, -ense, -anse, -ure, -ité and -ée are usually feminine.

Days of the week, months and seasons, metric weights, measures and languages are masculine. Whereas, continents, most countries and most rivers are feminine.

When learning new vocabulary such as vegetables, you can separate them in two lists: le poireau, le haricot, le chou-fleur / la carotte, la courgette, la pomme de terre.

You can learn words in context with an adjective: une belle voiture / un beau vélo / une bonne tarte / un bon gateau.

Find a method that works for you, but make sure you learn genders from the start. Bonne chance!

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