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French Grammar Tips

Is a French word masculine or feminine?


It may be confusing at times to determine the gender of a French noun.

The gender of nouns is on the whole, arbitrary. 

Here are a few tips to help you along the way if you are a beginner French learner.


Feminine French words:

Nouns ending in:

-ette such as: maisonette, courgette or fourchette

-tion such as:  nation, augmentation or addition

-sion such as:  pension, tension or mission

-ure such as: sculpture, voiture or cure

-té  such as: variété, qualité or difficulté

-ence such as différence, conséquence or absence

-ance such as abondance, performance or tolérance

-ie such as partie, vie or série


Masculine French words:

Nouns ending in:

-eau such as: bateau, chapeau, oiseau

-ment such as: établissement, paiement or évènement 

-teur such as: acteur, professeur or directeur

-phone such as: microphone, saxophone or dictaphone

-scope such as: horoscope, téléscope or stethoscope


Of course there are exceptions to the rule. As we say in French, "l'exception confirme la règle."

On our blog, we will soon explore exceptions as well as other tips to help you learn the gender of French nouns.


Which preposition should I use for countries ?


I live in France. J'habite en France.

I am going to France. Je vais en France. 

You may have noticed that although you change prepositions in English depending on the verb and the type of action it involves, in French you will keep the same preposition for a given country.

The trick is to know which preposition to use.

For masculine countries which start with a consonant, we use "au": au Royaume-Uni, au Portugal, au Canada, au Pakistan, au Mexique, etc. 

For all feminine countries and masculine countries starting with a vowel, we use "en": en Italie (f), en Iran (m), en Australie (f), en Colombie (f), etc.

If a country is plural, we use "aux": aux Etats-Unis, aux Pays-Bas.




corresponding to the to the three infinitive endings: -ER,-IR,-RE.

They are termed regular as they give a conjugating pattern for a great number of French verbs which have one or other of these infinitive endings.

 French regular verbs ending in ER:  the present tense:

 For example the verb  -penser- meaning to think in English 

The form of the verb ending in ER is termed - the infinitive -

When we conjugate we separate the stem from the endings.

We add the following endings to the verb stem e, es, e ons, ez and ent:

Je pense

Tu penses

Il pense

Nous pensons

Vous pensez

Ils pensent




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