1. How can adult L2 learners learn, master, and remember grammatical gender more efficiently? Memorisation and time do not improve advanced L2 learners.
  2. Are there shortcuts or patterns or rules for gender assignment, which L2 learners can try to comprehend, or at least memorise more efficiently than memorising the gender of each noun?
  3. Are there any books or resources or studies that have discovered or exposed shortcuts or aids (as queried in 2 above)?

Unfortunately, this problem also affects this learner.

  • 4
    There are general rules, although they cover only part of the vocabulary. Imho, root learning by just reading a lot in French is the best way to master gender in a foreign language. Also, no matter how well you know the rules, when you speak French you don't have the time to recall the rules and use the right gender.
    – Christine
    Jan 16, 2016 at 20:00
  • 1
    Err, right. "rote learning" I was going to say.
    – Christine
    Jan 16, 2016 at 20:10
  • I find listening to French-language songs helpful for learning gender -- if you need to know the gender of a noun, think of a song containing it and sing it to yourself. Of course this is too slow to use while speaking.
    – hunter
    Jan 22, 2016 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


As Christine said it in the commentary, I would recommend to read a lot in French.

Except for a small number of words*, gender is intuitive for every native speaker (except maybe the younger ones). Because they've always heard the words with the right gender when their parents or teachers speak when they were young.

Using Chritine's words, you can't think about genders when you speak, or it will take you five minutes per sentence. You just know. But obviously, given the number of words, students can't learn all genders one by one (like French children do when they have to learn English irregular verbs).

Reading French, the students will slowly and unconsciously get used to the gender of words. So when they speak, the right one will come naturally in mind. At the beginnning, they will be wrong sometimes. But it wil come.

* There are some words, like "après-midi", which gender is not clear even for native French speakers. In the case of "après-midi", the dictionnary now allows both genders, because too many people were using the wrong one.


Le plus facile est de mémoriser les mots avec un article et un adjectif qui se prononcent différemment selon le genre :

  • Un grand apogée (masculin, mais les français le mette souvent au féminin à cause de la forme féminine de sa dernière syllabe [-ée] ; cela est du à l'origine grecque de ce mot).

Ou alors de grouper les synonymes dont on est sûr du genre de l'un d'entre eux:

  • Échappatoire (genre incertain pour les francophones), fuite, dérobade, excuse sont féminines.

Pour les mots rares, comme ceux que je viens de donner, on peut se constituer des listes que l'on améliore au fur et à mesure de ses découvertes.

Sinon c'est la lecture, si possible à voix haute (ou au moins murmurée, le fait d'articuler facilite, et la mémorisation, et la compréhension des relations entre les mots), qui vous donnera l'oreille pour trouver le bon accord : il ne faut pas faire travailler que le cerveau intellectuel, il y faut aussi sa partie émotionnelle pour arriver à la maîtrise d'une langue.

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