French Nouns, Articles, and Demonstratives

Gender of Nouns in French + Singular and Plural Forms

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French Nouns, Articles & Demonstratives / Les noms, les articles & les demonstratifs

All nouns in French have a gender, either masculine or feminine.  For the most part, you must memorize the gender, but there are some endings of words that will help you decide which gender a noun is.  Nouns ending in -age and -ment are usually masculine, as are nouns ending with a consonant.  Nouns ending in -ure, -sion, -tion, -ence, -ance, -té, and -ette are usually feminine.

Articles and adjectives must agree in number and gender with the nouns they modify.  Articles have to be expressed even though they aren't always in English; and you may have to repeat the article in some cases.  Demonstratives are like strong definite articles.

Definite Articles (The)
Masculine Feminine Before Vowel Plural
le lit
/lə li/
the bed
la pomme
/la pɔm/
the apple
the bird
les gants
/le ɡɑ̃/
the gloves

Indefinite Articles (A, An, Some)
Masculine Feminine Plural
un lit
/œ̃̃ li/
a bed
une pomme
/ yn pɔm/
an apple
des gants
/de ɡɑ̃/
some gloves

Demonstrative Adjectives (This, That, These, Those)
Masc. Masc, Before Vowel Fem. Plural
ce lit
/sə li/
this/that bed
cet oiseau
/sɛ twazo/
this/that bird
cette pomme
/sɛt pɔm/
this/that apple
ces gants
/se ɡɑ̃/
these/those gloves

If you need to distinguish between this or that and these or those, you can add -ci to the end of the noun for this and these, and -là to the end of the noun for that and those.  For example, ce lit-ci is this bed, while ce lit-là is that bed.


Plural Nouns / Les noms pluriels

To make a noun plural, you usually add an -s (which is not pronounced).
But there are some exceptions:
If a noun already ends in an -s, add nothing. bus(es) le bus les bus
If a noun ends in -eu or -eau, add an x. boat(s) le bateau les bateaux
If a masculine noun ends in -al or -ail, change it to -aux. horse(s) le cheval les chevaux
Some nouns ending in -ou add an -x instead of -s. knee(s) le genou les genoux

Exceptions: festival, carnaval, bal, pneu, bleu, landau, détail, chandail all add -s. There are only seven nouns ending in -ou that add -x instead of -s: bijou, caillou, chou, genou, pou, joujou, hibou. There are, of course, some irregular exceptions:  un œil (eye) - des yeux (eyes); le ciel (sky) - les cieux (skies); and un jeune homme (a young man) - des jeunes gens (young men).

Notice that the only time the pronunciation will change in the plural form is for masculine nouns that change -al or -ail to -aux and for the irregular forms. All other nouns are pronounced the same in the singular and the plural - it is only the article that changes pronunciation (le, la, l' to les).



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