Gender and articles

What is grammatical ‘gender’?‎

All French nouns have a grammatical gender - they are either masculine or feminine. It’s ‎important to learn the gender of a word as you go along.

With masculine words, use le (the) or un (a/an) and with feminine words, use la (the) or une ‎‎(a/an). With plural words, use les (the) or des (some). With all words that start with a vowel ‎or ‘h’, use l’, regardless of whether it’s a masculine or feminine noun.‎

How do you know if a word is masculine or feminine?‎

With some words, it is easy to know whether they are masculine or feminine, because ‎they describe male or female people.‎

  • le père - father
  • la mère - mother

All female family members are feminine and all male family members are masculine.‎

Gender rules

Definite articles - 'the'

The definite article is the word the. There are three words for the in French, depending on ‎whether a word is masculine, feminine or plural.‎

masculinefeminineplural (masculine and feminine)

Indefinite articles - 'a', 'an' and 'some'

The words for ‘a/an’ and ‘some’ change in French, depending on whether the noun is ‎masculine or feminine.‎

masculinefeminineplural (masculine and feminine)

How do you form plurals?‎

  • Normally you add an '‘s’‎' to the end of the word.

E.g. le père turns into les pères (father - fathers)

(Use les (the) or des (some) with plural nouns)


  • If a word ends in -eau or -ou you normally add an ‘x’‎ to the end

E.g. le gâteau - les gâteaux (cake - cakes)‎

  • If a word ends in -al, you normally take off the ‘l’ and add ‘ux

E.g. un animal - des animaux (an animal - some animals)‎

Not all words follow these rules.

Some words are completely different in the singular and plural and others don't change at all (especially ones that end in -s, -z or -x).

Here are some examples:

l’œil - les yeux (eye - eyes)

le jus - les jus (juice - juices)‎


Find out how much you know about genders and articles in French in this short quiz.