Tricks for genders

I've been having trouble recalling genders for several nouns, and I can't find a reason to them. Is there something I'm missing? Does anyone have some tips/tricks?

Posted by memrise_ 12/1/11, last update 5/11/12 (2 years ago)
  • There's no way to tell what gender a noun has by its meaning, but sometimes you can tell by its spelling. http://french.about.com/od/gra...Personally though, I think it's a lot harder to remember all those rules (and then exceptions), and you'll probably be better off if you're somewhat familiar with them and pick them up as you learn new words (rather than memorizing those rules).

    Posted by jeffayle 12/3/11 (3 years ago)
  • There's no way to tell what gender a noun has by its meaning, but sometimes you can tell by its spelling. http://french.about.com/od/gra...Personally though, I think it's a lot harder to remember all those rules (and then exceptions), and you'll probably be better off if you're somewhat familiar with them and pick them up as you learn new words (rather than memorizing those rules).

    Posted by jeffayle 12/3/11 (3 years ago)
  • I'm right there with you.  The gender of nouns is my biggest problem.  But I have to agree with jeffayle on this one.  Think back to English class in school.  There were all those rules and exceptions, but in the end, it was just repetition that really allowed us to learn what was proper.  The same goes for the gender of nouns.  My French teacher in high school tried to teach us a trick, but that only lasted so long before the rules no longer applied.  The best way to learn is to just expose yourself.

    Posted by jnsatterfield 12/4/11 (3 years ago)
  • I'm right there with you.  The gender of nouns is my biggest problem.  But I have to agree with jeffayle on this one.  Think back to English class in school.  There were all those rules and exceptions, but in the end, it was just repetition that really allowed us to learn what was proper.  The same goes for the gender of nouns.  My French teacher in high school tried to teach us a trick, but that only lasted so long before the rules no longer applied.  The best way to learn is to just expose yourself.

    Posted by jnsatterfield 12/4/11 (3 years ago)
  • The only way is to learn the word really. It can be hard to recall them sometimes but you remember them after using the words for a while.

    Posted by adsotrans 12/8/11 (3 years ago)
  • The only way is to learn the word really. It can be hard to recall them sometimes but you remember them after using the words for a while.

    Posted by adsotrans 12/8/11 (3 years ago)
  • Learn Spanish then invert all the pronouns LOL. I'm just kidding (though it's true).French has to be the language with the most rules and exceptions. There is no way to predict a pronoun other than visual clues."Le doigt" - the finger: imagine a tough guy giving the finger, very masculine attitude isn't it."La Tête" - the head: women are smarter than men, it's well known, so feminine.Bonne chance.

    Posted by sfrenchie 3/14/12 (2 years ago)
  • French nouns ending in ' ion' (with a few exception!) are feminine.

    Posted by marygavin 3/15/12 (2 years ago)
  • Add mems for the words you find it difficult to remember the gender for, with details like "Imagine la table with a mermaid sitting on it" which is currently my mem for that word.

    Posted by bigglesworth 3/15/12 (2 years ago)
  • The way I've been trying to learn them is to treat them all as masculine unless I remember otherwise. Ie I don't learn the gender when it is masculine, I just learn the word then when I have to know the gender I know that it is masculine because I haven't associated learning that noun with a gender. When it is feminine, I make an effort to remember the gender. So when I am recalling a noun, if I am thinking about it's gender then it is likely feminine. I'm not sure if that makes much sense, it's difficult to explain, but it is working pretty well for me.

    Posted by pcok06 3/19/12 (2 years ago)
  • Made sense to me! Good idea...I may try it but not sure if I'm 'too far in' to change now?

    Posted by Cookewitch 3/20/12 (2 years ago)
  • pcok06, that's a pretty good suggestion imo. I'll try it with my friend, I'm teaching him French.

    Posted by sfrenchie 3/20/12 (2 years ago)
  • Nice idea pzok06. I like to add colors and shapes to my mems that I use, for instance whenever there is pink, the gender is feminine, and if there is a cross or an arrow-head, they remind me of the genders. The cross and the arrow come from the astrological signs of mars and venus. For instance the mem for "la frontière" in my head is a map with a border, that has been marked with a bolded, irregularly shaped vertical line with small horizontal lines crossing it, as to appear as crosses. Hence, venus = feminine.

    Posted by TheVintageTh 3/20/12 (2 years ago)
  • There don't seem to be any 100% obvious rules to gender. From my more formal experiences of learning French the only 'rules' I came across were:

    -Nouns are usually masculine except:

    *If it ends in (–son, -sion ,-ssion, -tion, -xion) it will probably be feminine

    *If it ends in (-e) look it up

    *If it ends in (-eur) look it up

    *If it ends in (té, tié) look it up

    If that's any help

    Posted by ed141263 3/22/12 (2 years ago)
  • If you've tried Michael Gruneberg's Linkword system http://www.linkwordlanguages.com/ then you'll see that he encourages visualisation of genders through the memes. I always try and build the picture of a boxer into a image of masculine words, and of perfume into feminine words.

    For example I think of a boxer on a BICYCLE in the Olympic VELOdrome for bike, and of my town square filled with bottles of perfume for LA PLACE.

    Try it, it works for me. Also, for words that are similar in French and English, imagine that item placed on a French flag or made of the French flag. For example I imagine a boxer flicking through a PASSPORT covered in the French flag for LE PASSEPORT.

    Posted by Getdown 3/24/12 (2 years ago)
  • If you are a firefox user I wrote a script to color feminine nouns in pink and masculine nouns in blue when the noun is defined. To use it install the 'greasemonkey' extension, restart firefox and go to http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/129713 to install. I've only tried it on the introductory french course, since that's what I'm working on at the moment. Hopefully this is useful to someone out there...

    Posted by slagfan 3/31/12 (2 years ago)
  • @slagfan, that is very cool! I will be fascinated to hear how people feel about it, and whether it is something that we should incorporate into the site more formally. So let us know what you think of it when you use it!

    Thanks

    Ben

    Posted by BenWhately Staff   4/1/12 (2 years ago)
  • Ben, thanks for your encouragement. It certainly helps for words like l'avenue, where the gender isn't immediately obvious from the article. After reading the comments here maybe it should only highlight feminine nouns, which may make remembering easier.

    Posted by slagfan 4/1/12 (2 years ago)
  • This is one of my major challenges as well. @stagfan, I've tried installing the script on both Firefox and Chrome (tampermonkey) and I can't get either to work. I'm also doing Introductory French.

    Posted by whoireallyare 4/3/12 (2 years ago)
  • @clubhouseguy: the coloring is set to only happen when the word is defined. If that's not what you are seeing, or you think it should happen elsewhere, let me know, either here or through email to slagfan@pobox.com. The latest version should work on the other French courses too.

    Posted by slagfan 4/3/12 (2 years ago)
  • If anyone uses the method of loci (specifically with a memory palace or journey), then you can separate your genders into two different towns/houses/sides/etc. Otherwise, I would just find out which words give you the most trouble with gender and try to write and speak them a couple times a day.

    Posted by moeris 4/6/12 (2 years ago)
  • My rough estimate suggests that about 80 percent of nouns ending in -e or -ion are feminine and that almost all others are masculine. If you start with that then you need memorise the exceptions only- which cuts down considerably on the workload.

    Posted by brianhanney 5/11/12 (2 years ago)

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