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?


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 '17 at 9:35
  • No link, but it is still a perfect homonym. I edit my answer to make that clearer. – Anne Aunyme Oct 11 '17 at 11:42
  • Merci. C'est très utile. – ktm5124 Oct 12 '17 at 16:14

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.

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    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 '17 at 8:38
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    There is no such thing as "neutral" in French grammar, the notion just doesn't exist. – Anne Aunyme Oct 11 '17 at 8:46
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    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 – Emmanuel BRUNO Oct 11 '17 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 ! – Anne Aunyme Oct 11 '17 at 9:10

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