The grammatical gender is a system of classification in the French language that assigns a gender to nouns and adjectives. This plays a very important role in French grammar and sentence syntax, this affects the conjugation of verbs, the agreement of adjectives, and the choice of pronouns.
Grammatical role of gender in French
In French, the gender of a noun determines the way of accompanying adjectives and pronouns. It can also affect the order of words in a French sentence.
For example, the subject pronoun typically comes before the verb in a French sentence, but if the subject is a feminine noun, the pronoun must agree and come after the verb.
If you want to say that the cat someone has is beautiful you would say:
Il a un chat et il est trés beau.
He has a cat and he’s beautiful.
But when you’re talking about a beautiful female cat:
Il a une chatte et elle est trés belle.
He has a cat and she’s beautiful.
Agreement rules for grammatical gender
This is a very important subject to have in mind because grammatical gender is something that you use every day in writing and speaking form. It changes the adjectives and some verb tenses and most importantly, it determines which pronouns to use.
- Adjective agreements
French adjectives don’t just only conform to gender, but also to quantity. You have adjectives that are masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural, and feminine plural.
Il est petit.
He is small.
Elle est petite.
She is small.
Ils sont petits.
They are small.
Elles sont petites.
They are small.
- Verb agreements
For agreements with verbs, you have to be aware that with some tenses, you need to be certain about what gender your noun is in order to conjugate them correctly. You usually need to make an agreement with the subject.
Il est allé chez un ami.
He went to a friend’s house.
Elle est allée au cinéma.
She went to the movies.
Ils sont allés jouer au foot.
They went to play football.
Elles sont allées au concert.
They went to the concert.
Tips for using grammatical gender
To know if the gender of a noun is masculine or feminine, you can look at the ending of the word. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to the rules.
- It’s usually masculine if it ends with:
- It’s usually feminine if it ends with:
- Most nouns that end with a consonant are masculine.
A common mistake that English speakers make when learning French, is assuming that all nouns that end in -tion are feminine, when in fact they’re masculine.
You’re ready to master grammatical gender in French
Grammatical gender is an important aspect of the French language because it affects the conjugation of verbs, the agreement of adjectives, and the choice of pronouns. It is essential to respect and correctly use grammatical gender in order to effectively communicate and get 0our point across correctly in French. But we’re sure that with practice, soon enough, you’ll be using it with ease and like a native speaker.
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