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Lesson 2 - Articles and Genders

1. Gender in French

We have a bad and a good news for you : as opposed to English, French words have a gender. That's the bad news. The good news is that French words can have only two genders : masculine or feminine. Unfortunately, there is an additional bad news : the distribution of the words in the masculine and the feminine genders does not comply to any logical rule. Therefore, the only way to know the gender of a word is to learn it by heart!

The gender is determined by the article, either definite (the in English) or indefinite (a/an in English).

The genders of the words introduced in the previous lesson are :

When a word begins with a vowel, the definite article that precedes the word is contracted whatever the gender is :

Previously, we said that there was no logical rules to find out the gender of the French words. Actually, there are some...


Almost every profession has two genders depending on whether it is a man or a woman who is accomplishing the work. Examples :

un boulanger
a male baker
une boulangère
a female baker
un boucher
a male butcher
une bouchère
a female butcher

The following list gives the masculine and feminine form of some professions:

Airplane pilot


Like professions, most animals may have both genders (male and female). As opposed to professions, the way the female form is built does not comply to any general rule and consequently, must be learnt by heart. The following is a list of examples:

Bovine (cow/bull)

As you may have noticed in the previous examples, the feminine form is often derived from the masculine by appending an "e" to the word. This rule is applicable in most cases and leads to a more general one : the feminine form of nouns and adjectives is built by appending an "e" to the masculine form of the word. This rule is general enough that you should learn it.

2. Plural articles

The plural form of the definite and indefinite articles is very simple for it does not vary according to the gender:

Plural rule: In French, the plural form of nouns and adjectives is built by appending an "s" (like in English). However, in many cases, this rule is not applicable, and you will be required to learn by heart the irregular form of plural form of these exceptions (lesson 4). Examples:

3. Some usual expressions

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