More on French nouns. This time, animals,

Just as in English, where we can choose between words like bull or cow (depending on the sex of the animal we are referring to), we can do the same in French:

Une vache – a cow

Un taureau – a bull

However, sometimes we can use the same word but make the ending different, depending on whether the animal is male or female:

Un chien – a dog (male)

Une chienne – a dog/bitch (female)

I always tell people that if they are not sure what sex the animal is, default to the masculine version.

Some words for animals do not change according to the sex of the animal. In this case, you just need to learn the word with its gender:

Un poisson – a fish

Une souris – a mouse

More on French nouns, this time referring to things

In English, we call all things “it”. In French, something is ALWAYS masculine or feminine. There are no clues to help you with which gender a thing would be so try and learn the gender with the word. However, there are rules to help you work it out. Here are two to start you off, next week I will continue with the rules. BEWARE, there are always, always exceptions to the rules in French, so have a dictionary close by to check.

Wordings ending in “e” are generally feminine:

Une boulangerie – a baker’s

Une banque – a bank

Words ending in a consonant (any letter other than vowels) are generally masculine:

Un aéroport – an airport

Un film – a film