Feminine Nouns

Feminine nouns
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Noms féminins

There’s no simple trick to knowing the gender of every single French noun (other than looking in a dictionary), but there are several categories of words that are always or usually feminine.

Academic subjects

Nearly all academic and scientific subjects are feminine:

  • la chimie – chemistry
  • l’histoire – history
  • la langue – language
    Exceptions: le droit (law) and specific languages

Approximate numbers

All numbers that end in –aine are feminine.

  • une dizaine – about ten
  • une douzaine – a dozen
  • une centaine – about a hundred

Cars

Une voiture, une auto, and all car names are feminine

  • la 2CV
  • la Citroën
  • la Peugeot

Food

Most foods that end in -e are feminine.

  • la banane
  • la tomate
  • la viande
    Exceptions: le beurre, le blé, le concombre, le fromage, le pamplemousse, le poivre

Geography

All continents are feminine:

  • l’Australie
  • l’Amérique
  • l’Europe

 Note: there’s some debate about Antarctique, which is feminine according to Larousse but masculine according to Le Petit Robert, perhaps because the latter doesn’t seem to consider it a noun in its own right, but rather an abbreviation of le continent antarctique.

Nearly all countries that end in -e are feminine.

  • la France
  • l’Égypte
  • la Chine
    Exceptions: le Belize, le Cambodge, le Mexique, le Mozambique, le Zaïre, le Zimbabwe

Rivers that end in -e are feminine:

  • la Garonne
  • la Loire
  • la Seine
    Exception: le Rhône

Holidays and Festivals

All holidays and festivals that include saint in the name are feminine (because the name is a contraction of la Fête de Saint …)

Planets

Une planète is feminine, as are all planets:

  • la Terre
  • Vénus
  • Pluton

Although,

  et je cite …

Traditionnellement, les noms des corps célestes étaient de genre masculin, sauf ceux qui étaient composés d’un déterminant féminin ou dont le nom était celui d’un personnage féminin de la mythologie. C’est pourquoi on rencontre encore parfois des noms de planètes, d’étoiles ou de constellations au masculin, bien que le féminin soit aujourd’hui plus courant.

Traditionally, the names of celestial bodies were masculine, except those that were made up of a feminine determiner or whose name was that of a female mythological figure. That’s why today we still find some planet, star, and constellation names in the masculine, even though the feminine is today more typical.

Source : Genre des noms d’astres et de planètes

Watches

La montre is feminine, as are all brand names:

  • une Rolex
  • une Swatch
  • une Tag Heuer
   
Quiz: Gender

 Related lessons

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Feminine French nouns
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