Beginners French – The Idea of Gender

One of the first challenges facing English-speaking learners of French is the concept that all French nouns, whether referring to living beings or not, are either “masculine” or “feminine” in gender. These terms are grammatical ones and are not equivalent to the terms “male” and “female”, although the ideas may overlap in certain cases, such as un homme – a man, is masculine and une femme – a woman, is feminine. With the vast majority of nouns the masculine or feminine gender either has no connection with sex, or, in the case of inanimate objects, it is applied to nouns which cannot be considered as male or female, such as un stylo a pen and une chaise  a chair.
How, therefore, do we tackle the problem of learning and remembering which gender a noun happens to be? Here are a few tips: Continue reading

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