French Nouns

Definition: A noun is a word that represents a thing, whether that thing is concrete (For Example a home, a cat) or abstract (an idea, happiness).

In French, all nouns have a gender - they are either masculine or feminine. It is very important to learn a noun's gender along with the noun itself because articles, adjectives, and some verbs have to agree with nouns; that is, they change depending on the gender of the noun they precede or follow. The gender of some nouns makes sense (homme (man) is masculine, femme (woman) is feminine) but others don't (personne (person) is always feminine, even if the person is a man!).

Examples in French:

un livre book
une chaise chair

There are some tendencies in the gender of nouns, but there are always exceptions. Countries and names that end in e are usually (but not always) feminine. There are a few common patterns, but please don't use these as a way to avoid learning the genders of nouns - just learn each word as gender + noun and then you'll know them forever.

-ion Feminine un lion
un scion
un avion
un million
un billion
un bastion
-té Feminine un comité un invité
-ée Feminine un lycée un musée
-age Masculine une page
une nage
une cage
une plage
une rage
une image
-eau Masculine l'eau (fem.) une peau

Plural of Regular French Nouns

Most French nouns form their plural by adding the letter S. The plural form will usually sound the same as the singular. Nevertheless, the French add the letter S when they write. While the indefinite form of the article is un or une, its plural form is des for both masculine and feminine nouns.

Nearly all French nouns have different forms for singular and plural. In addition, many nouns that refer to people have both a masculine and a feminine form. Many of the rules here also apply to adjectives.

Note that the gender rules apply only to people and some animals. They do not apply to objects, which have a masculine or a feminine form, never both.
  1. Most nouns add an e for feminine and an s for plural

    MASC. invité invités ami amis
    FEM. invitée invitées amie amies

  2. When a noun ends in e, there is no difference between the masculine and feminine forms

    MASC. touriste touristes
    FEM. touriste touristes

  3. When a noun ends in s, x, or z there is no difference between the singular and plural forms

    le fils les fils
    le gaz les gaz

  4. Irregular gender patterns

    -an paysan paysanne
    -en gardien gardienne
    -on patron patronne
    -er boulanger boulangère
    -eur danseur danseuse
    -teur acteur actrice

  5. Irregular plural patterns

    -ail travail travaux
    -al cheval chevaux
    -eau château chateaux
    -eu feu feux
    -ou bijou bijoux

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