An individual but a person? A helmet but a cap? A book or… a book? Do you still struggle with the genre of names in the French language? Review tips to find out if it's male or female.
The genre of names in French
In the French language, there is no neutral. All names have a gender. Warning ! This does not mean that the French always speak of sex! It is only a grammatical genre.
Why is it so important? Well, the grammatical genre of a noun will have an impact on the related words: articles, adjectives, verbs by the phenomenon of agreement. For example, if un strange individualer introduced himselft in our belle remains, we can say thathas a strange personages introduced himselfte in our and something beautiful home.
But why therefore impose an additional difficulty on French learners? Create confusion to prevent them from understanding us? Well, this usage comes from Latin. French, which is a Romance language, comes from Latin. The grammatical structure is therefore influenced by Latin and one finds there in particular this distinction of gender. Note, however, that the neutral genre that exists in Latin has disappeared in French. Yes Yes ! French grammar could have been even more difficult!
Male and female names of people
Good news ! Most of the time, the grammatical gender corresponds to the sex of the individual. So we will talk about a boy and a girl.
This is true for professions and nationalities for example.
• In some cases the name is the same but the genre varies. For example: a concierge, a concierge - a Swiss, a Swiss.
• Often, an -e is added to the masculine noun to form the feminine. For example: a friend, a friend.
• Sometimes the male name is different from the female name and generally follows a pattern:
-en / -enne a musician, a musician - an Italian, an Italian
- we give a boss, a boss - a Latvian, a Latvian
a waiter, a waitress
-ais / ease and -ois / oise a French, a French - a Chinese, a Chinese
- a translator, a translator
be a baker, a baker
What about animals?
The case of animals is a little more complex. Most animal names have an arbitrarily assigned grammatical gender which in no way reflects their gender. We speak for example of a spider, a turtle and a slug but of a snake, a crocodile and a snail.
However, for the most common animals, there is a generic masculine word but through a process of feminization, one can specify whether it is a male or a female. Thus, we differentiate a cat from a cat, a dog from a bitch, a duck from a duck, etc.
The gender of country and continent names
Finally a simple rule! Certainly, which has some exceptions, but they remain few. The countries ending with the letter -e are female except Mexico, Cambodia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Belize and Suriname.
The same goes for the continents. Easy you say, it all ends in -e. They are therefore all female!
Common names: can we know if it's masculine or feminine?
Unfortunately no. However, general trends are emerging and allow us to guide and allow us to remember the genre of names without making too many mistakes.
• So words that end this way are usually masculine
-age household, cheese
-the move, the government
-phone and -scope the telephone, the video recorder
-ism and -asme surrealism, enthusiasm
-al the newspaper, the horse
-in the morning the shark
- have the manor, the mirror
the work, the stained glass
-at patronage, matriarchy
- tractor, secateurs
-and the hat, the parquet
which is pronounced / o / the seal, the jump, the fool
which is pronounced / ar / the cupboard, the armrest, the art, the coach
Note also that the directions, days of the week, months, seasons, tree names and languages are always male.
• So words that end this way are usually feminine
-this, -he and -otte the sock, the trash, the handcuff
-ure the car, the roof
-ode, -ade and -ude the method, the tirade, the weariness
-eur (except the people) the warmth, the flower
- beauty, sovereignty
-aise and -ise the strawberry, the crisis
-esse and -ass politeness, molasses
-ine the kitchen, the showcase
which is pronounced / ance / provenance, latency
which is pronounced / sion / tension, temptation, fission
which is pronounced / wa / the law, the way, the voice
As seen above, all the continents are feminine, but let's also add the disciplines (except languages of course): geography, literature, physics, etc.