Get Well Versed With French Nouns – Master the Four Rules!
Sitting through rigorous English classes during school taught us that Nouns are names of a person, thing, place or a theory. French also believes in the same definition but with its own set of rules. Here is your walkthrough through them.
1. No Matter the Noun, It’ll Have A Gender
Either a masculine or a feminine, it’s crucial to understand what a French Noun is gendered as.
- The first way to identify the difference is by understanding the indefinite articles. For feminine nouns, the modifying indicator is ‘une’ while for masculine the article is ‘un’. This is the English equivalent of ‘a’ and ‘an’.
Feminine – une chaussette (a sock)
Masculine – un livre (a book)
- The second indicator is through definite articles. For feminine nouns, the article is ‘la’ while for masculine nouns it’s ‘le’. This is the English equivalent of ‘the’.
Feminine – la langue (the language)
– l’histoire (the history)
Masculine – le jus (the juice)
* With the presence of a vowel after article, le or la become l’ as a vowel clash won’t sound pleasant when pronouncing.
* With an article and vowel agreement, the pronunciation also agrees. So, it becomes (listoire).
2. Identify the Gender, Don’t Leave It on Luck
The way to most French is through memory but there are some endings that can be used to determine what gender the noun could be.
Some Masculine suffixes: -aire, -ien, -on, -in, -ment
un abonnement (a subscription)
Some Feminine suffixes: -ssion, -ale, -ence, -té, -ine
la cousine (cousin)
3. Plurals and Nouns
This part will teach you all you need to know about how plurals can determine Noun genders.
- For masculine plural nouns the indefinite article is ‘des’ and for definite articles it’s ‘les’.
des jardins (the gardens)
- For feminine plural nouns the indefinite and definite articles are the same as masculine ones.
les clés (the keys)
- Sometimes the endings in singular can determine the endings of plural.
- For instance, a word with suffix ‘eu’ ‘ou’, or ‘eau’ becomes ‘x’.
Le gâteau -> Les gâteaux (cakes)
- When there is ‘s’, ‘x’, ‘z’ in the end, there is no change.
La voix -> les voix (voices)
- If the ending is an ‘ail’ or ‘al’ the change is ‘aux’.
Un journal -> des journaux (journals)
4. Adjectives Playing A Role with Nouns
Adjectives are affected by the gender or the number of nouns. We must make sure they all agree when writing a sentence.
La fille est grande (The girl is tall)
Les hommes sont grands (The men are tall)
|Masculine||Remains as it is in most cases|
|Feminine||An ‘e’ is added in most cases|
|Masculine Plurals||Most of the times an ‘s’ is added|
|Feminine Plurals||Most of the times an ‘es’ is added|
Now, let’s look at some exceptions of adjective endings being modified by Nouns.
1. Endings with é another e is added
Fatigué (m) -> Fatiguée (f)
2. Endings with ‘er’ change to ère
Cher (m) -> Chère
3. Endings with ‘eux’ become ‘euse’
Ennuyeux (m) -> Ennuyeuse (f)
4. Endings with ‘f’ change to ‘v’
Neuf (m) -> Neuve (f)
5. Endings with silent ‘e’ have no change
Malade (m) -> Malade (f)
As seen in the table, the plurals are for number agreement but in feminine we must make sure that the change is shown in both gender and number. That table is also for some cases but in others we must be mindful of the plural rules.
Bon (m) -> Bonne (f) -> Bons (mas. plural) -> Bonnes (fem. plural)
Sometimes, the adjectives can be placed before nouns but in most cases, they follow the noun.
Une grande personne (an adult)
Now that you know the basics of Nouns, get down to practising. Read passages in French and try to identify each component. With continuous practise the gender and formations will automatically come to your head. The French tutors will also help you in getting acquainted with the language. See you next chapter!