Try these tips for remembering whether a noun is feminine or masculine in French. Developing memory tricks, especially those that that paint a picture in your mind, is an ideal way of learning and remembering key language points.
- Most feminine nouns end in an “e” and most masculine nouns don’t. Feminine nouns use “une” and masculine nouns use “un”.
- “Frère”, “père” and “grandpère” all end in an “e” but you can obviously only use “un”because they are masculine words.
- Even though “soeur” ends with a consonant you could obviously only use “une” with it because a sister is female.
- Traditionally flowers are given to women. That’s why “fleur” can only be feminine.
- Traditionally women didn’t go out to work and used to stay at home. That’s why “maison” can only be feminine.
- Think of women watching more television because they haven’t gone out to work. That’s why “télévision” is feminine. Also, the television is in the house and “maison” is feminine.
- “Une télévision” will also help you remember that other nouns that end in “ion”, such as “une question” and “une correction”, are also feminine.
- Remember that for many centuries education was reserved exclusively for men. They were the only ones allowed to open books. That’s why “livre” can only be masculine.
- Think of the important role of the telephone in business, traditionally a male domain. That’s why “téléphone” can only be masculine.
- Remember that it can only be acceptable for men to drink alcohol and it’s been proven that men can absorb more alcohol than women. That is why a glass, “un verre”, is masculine.
These ideas have been taken from Unforgettable French written by Marie Rice-Jones. Unforgettable French can be used by anyone learning French grammar, from the basics up to GCSE level.