-ée Suffix

French suffix -ée
Deux poignées de fraises
Two handfuls (literally, "fistfuls") of strawberries
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Le suffixe -ée

The French suffix -ée is added to nouns or verbs to make new nouns, which are usually feminine. There are several possible meanings bestowed by the suffix.

1) Duration

There are four pairs of French nouns that distinguish between a simple period of time and the duration or quality of that time period – learn more.

un anune année year
un jourune journée day
un matinune matinée morning
un soirune soirée evening

2) ___ful

An amount equivalent to what that noun holds.

une assietteassiett-une assiettéeplateplateful
une bouchebouch-une bouchéemouthmouthful
une cuillèrecuiller-*une cuilleréespoonspoonful
une gorgegorg-une gorgéethroat"throatful," gulp
un poingpoing-une poignéefistfistful, handful

 Note that when the original noun ends in -e, that letter is dropped before adding the suffix. A few words have additional, minor spelling changes when suffixed.*

3) Contents

The contents of the original noun, the concept of what it contains or indicates.

une lignelign-la lignéelinedescendents
une maisonmaisonn-*la maisonnéehousehousehold, family
une tabletabl-une tabléetablepeople around a table
une voiturevoitur-une voituréecarcontents of a car

4) Noun created from a verb

The addition of the suffix –ée creates a noun that indicates the purpose, action, or result of that verb. Note that the infinitive ending is dropped before the suffix is added:

VerbeNom English
allerune allée to goavenue, path, aisle
donnerune donnée to givedatum, fact
fesserune fessée to spankspanking
monterune montée to climbclimb, ascent, rise
plongerune plongée to divedive

5) Past participle

The feminine singular past participle of -er verbs:

donnerdonnée to givegiven
parlerparlée to speakspoken
payerpayée to paypaid
visitervisitée to visitvisited

6) Plant names

Quite a few plant names and plant families end in –ée, though I can’t find a pattern to their creation.

une achillée achillea
une graminée a grass
une orchidée orchid
une poirée Swiss chard

7) Et cetera

There are many other words that end in –ée but don’t follow a pattern; here are just a few examples:**

  • une denrée – foodstuff
  • un dragée – sugared almond
  • une épée – sword
  • une fée – fairy
  • une marée – tide
  • une mosquée – mosque

 * Note the minor spelling changes in the words cuillerée (loses the accent on the penultimate e in cuillère) and maisonnée (n at the end of maison is doubled).

** Still want more?

For a complete list of French words that end in –ée, try the tremendously useful Recherche par critères feature of Le Petit Robert:

Petit Robert

 Related lessons

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-ée French suffix

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