I assume that le devoir is derived from the verb devoir, as opposed to the other way around. Are there many other nouns derived from verbs, such that the noun is identical to the verb? Are these nouns always masculine?

  • Many nouns converted from verbs are not masculine. For example, arrivée, saisie, mise, tenue, crainte are all feminine nouns derived from verbs past participle while grimpe, triche and many others are converted from present singular. Delphine Tribout's phd dissertation contains a thorough discussion of French verb converts.
    – GAM PUB
    Sep 14, 2019 at 9:56

3 Answers 3


There are plenty of such nouns:

  • To designate a period of time when people do a specific action in a day-to-day schedule (lever, déjeuner...)

  • To designate a specific notion, often (but not only) in philosophy, it can happen that a verb is directly used as a noun (l'être et le paraître, le savoir-faire, un avoir)

  • To designate a specific action (un lancer)

  • Some nouns are even perfect homonyms of verbs without a clear link between the two of them. Either one derived from the other a very long time ago or they just ended up being homonyms by the random of linguistic evolution (un boucher: a butcher, boucher: to clog)

As far as I know all these nouns are masculine, but I suspect you may find words of the last category that are feminine.

  • There is absolutely no link between the noun boucher, the man who was originally selling goat (bouc) flesh and the verb boucher which is related to bouchon (cork) and bois/bosquet (woods/bush).
    – jlliagre
    Oct 11, 2017 at 9:35
  • No link, but it is still a perfect homonym. I edit my answer to make that clearer. Oct 11, 2017 at 11:42
  • Merci. C'est très utile.
    – ktm5124
    Oct 12, 2017 at 16:14
  • According to TLFi, BOUCHER is meant to come from BOUC: Dér. de bouc; suff. -ier (réduit à -er parce que précédé d'une palatale); le boucher étant à l'origine chargé d'abattre des boucs.
    – GAM PUB
    Sep 14, 2019 at 9:49

Your question is interesting, because I think the answer has to be precise:

The derivation of a verb to a noun car be either feminine or masculine when it is associated with a suffix: la dorure (from dorer), le garage (from garer), la parure (from parer), la moulure (from mouler), le codage (from coder).

But when the process consists of making the noun from the verb as it is, then the noun is always masculine: le coucher, le manger, le vouloir, le déjeûner, le dîner, le souper...


Yes there are many nouns derived from verbs :

Le bon vouloir
Le coucher
Le déjeuner / le dîner / le souper
Le savoir


This pages affirms that infinitive verbs used as nouns are neither masculine nor feminine but neutral : http://research.jyu.fi/grfle/462.html I don't know if that can be trusted, but at least that sounds right.

  • 2
    But because there is no neutral in French, this neutral has all the appearance of masculine, i.e. articles and adjectives used with an infinitive can't be but masculine.
    – jlliagre
    Oct 11, 2017 at 8:38
  • 2
    There is no such thing as "neutral" in French grammar, the notion just doesn't exist. Oct 11, 2017 at 8:46
  • 1
    Doesn't exist or just takes exactly the same form as masculine, so that we forgot it exists (or used to exist) ? see latlntic.unige.ch/grammaticalite/?page_id=1554 Oct 11, 2017 at 8:57
  • It certainly used to exist, but that's not the case since quite a long time now. Par ailleurs ce lien est très intéressant, merci de l'avoir partagé ! Oct 11, 2017 at 9:10
  • There is a difference between default gender which is necessary in all languages featuring gender on nouns for coordination of nouns of different gender, and neutral gender which is the term used for the third gender of systems with masculine and feminine. Masculine and feminine are the traditional terms for gender systems where most male animates share a gender and most female animate share another.
    – GAM PUB
    Sep 14, 2019 at 10:01

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