Il y a un an et demi que j'ai commencé à apprendre le français, mais pour moi c'est difficile de reconnaître et de mémoriser le genre des mots. Par exemple, « chaise » est féminin parce qu'il se termine avec un « e ».

Y a-t-il une méthode qui pourrait m'aider ?

In case my French is not good enough to transfer the idea, I want to know how is it possible to understand the gender of nouns in French language? For example, the word “chaise” (meaning chair) ends with e which means that it must be feminine. Are there other rules which could be helpful?

  • Hi Rasoul, welcome to FL&U! I'm sorry but I think this particular question is too broad as there actually is no real method to memorize gender for nouns. That's why I voted to close it.
    – F'x
    Aug 20, 2011 at 12:40
  • 15
    I don't think this question should be closed as its it one the the most important and recurring ones for people learning French. Even if the answer is 'no rule' it should be kept here otherwise the question will pop twice per week.
    – Shtong
    Aug 20, 2011 at 12:54
  • Hi @F'x. thanks for your edit but I don't think this is a bad question. it can be very helpful. Aug 20, 2011 at 13:07
  • No guaranteed way (c.f. musée, squelette - both masculine despite appearances). As you improve you will automatically learn the gender with the word. And there is, of course, "le feeling" :-) which you will gradually get.
    – Vérace
    Jan 24, 2016 at 17:14

3 Answers 3


Je suis Anglais, et au début, c'était très difficile de me souvenir du genre de tout les mots. Honnêtement, parce que je n'ai jamais trouvé des règles sans exceptions, je vous conseille de :

  • Apprendre, avec chaque mot, le genre de ce mot aussi. Si on apprend le vocabulaire pour un contrôle, par exemple, ne pas éviter l’apprentissage des genres.
  • Si on a des amis français, demandez qu'ils vous corrigent sur chaque faute de genre (si j'ai fait une faute, corrigez-moi ici aussi).

Je pense qu'il n'y a pas de meilleure méthode. Après un peu de temps, je trouvais que je me souvenais de plus en plus des mots et de leur genre correctement.

  • merci @Ninefingers de votre guide. je pense que à la première phrase, vous pouvez dire "je suis anglophone" aussi ;) Aug 21, 2011 at 6:25
  • 2
    @RasoulZabihi un anglophone désigne une personne qui parle anglais et non pas un Anglais.
    – chepseskaf
    Sep 6, 2011 at 12:47

As you have noted, the most common way of doing it is to use suffixes, which sometimes indicate what gender nouns will have. You can easily find lists (with Google) such as this one which will give you suffixes and what gender they typically indicate. This second one actually includes the accuracy for each suffix, i.e. the percentage of exceptional cases.

If still undecided, other general rules can help you; though their efficiency may be better than a toss-up, they're far from foolproof. See here and there for such examples.


Linguistics can assist; in particular, try to find articles or papers from Linguistics.
I input gender French nouns into Google, which then revealed this (dubious) website, but which referenced this extremely informative and revealing study:

  1. Predictability in French gender attribution: A corpus analysis (PDF here)
    Author: Roy Lyster | Publication date 2006/3/1 | Journal of French Language Studies, Volume 16, Issue 01, Pages 69-92, Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Helpfully, Google Scholars lists (50, as of 2016/1/24) Citations at the bottom of the webpage; so ensure to consult these other Citations + the references listed at the end of each resource.

At 24 pages, 1 is too long to reproduce here, but the following quote (from its Abstract (on p 1)) should already convince you of its helpfulness and motivate you to read it:

The analysis classified noun endings as reliably masculine, reliably feminine, or ambiguous, by considering as reliable predictors of grammatical gender any noun ending that predicts the gender of least 90 per cent of all nouns in the corpus with that ending. Results reveal that 81 per cent of all feminine nouns and 80 per cent of all masculine nouns in the corpus are rule governed, having endings that systematically predict their gender. These findings, at odds with traditional grammars, are discussed in terms of their pedagogical implications.

I then Googled genders in french semantics which revealed other resources:

  1. French gender assignment revisited, WORD, 56:1, 19-38, DOI: 10.1080/00437956.2005.1143255
  2. Le Ou La?: The Gender of French Nouns (1995) by Marie Surridge.
    However, notice that 3 is already referenced on page 24 (of 24) of 1 above.

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