Why do the french use masculine and feminine words?
This is a quite tricky theme, but it has got a simple answer.
"Gender" of words may have 2 main roles:
1) As far as living beings are concerned:
_In some cases, they are used to differentiate males from females in certain activities, job, professions and among the animal kingdom (similar to German in that case), hence avoiding ambiguities.
eg: "un conseiller" (masculine) vs "une conseillère" (feminine): both mean "councellor", however, the gender of the subject is known. But that is not always the case, and quite a good deal of words are still limited to their masculine form, which leads a few to speak of "language sexism"
2) As far as objects, actions, ideas and concepts are concerned:
_The second and perhaps most important use of masculine/feminine words, however, is totally subconscient and most French people themselves do ignore it completely.
"Feminine" words in French are more general, vague, they express categories, species, groups of ideas, whereas "masculine" words are specific, precise and accurate, they refer to the things themselves.
You can define a masculine word with a feminine one, because that word necessarily belongs to a wider category of ideas, but you can hardly ever do the opposite, because if the language were a river, that would be like going against the main stream. It goes from broader (feminine) to thinner (masculine) like in a funnel, and defining a larger theme (feminine) with only one of its elements (masculine) would be either wrong or incomplete.
Eg: "Une boisson" is the feminine word for "a drink", but a drink may be "de l' alcohol" (alcohol), "du lait" (milk), "du vin" (wine), "du sirop" (syrup) etc... all of which are masculine words. Of course there are a few exceptions, but the idea's there.
Those, basically, are the 2 main functions of "word gender" in French.
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Le is for masculine words, la is for feminine words. Read More
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Sport is a masculine, not a feminine, word in French. The masculine singular noun, which means "exercise," "sport" or "sports" in English, may be preceded immediately by the masculine singular le since French employs definite articles where English does and does not use "the." The pronunciation will be "(luh) spor" in Alsatian French. Read More
Joli (masculine, singular), jolis (masculine, plural), jolie (feminine, singular) and jolies (feminine plural) mean pretty. Beau (masculine, singular), beaux (masculine, plural), belle (feminine, singular) and belles (feminine, plural) mean beautiful. If you want to use the masculine, singular word for beautiful but the word after beings with a vowel, you use bel instead. Read More
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a and an are spelled 'un' or 'une' in French. Use 'un' with masculine nouns, and 'une' with feminine ones. Read More
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You use une when the following noun is feminine, un when the following noun is masculine. Read More
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Règle is a feminine, not a masculine, word in French. The feminine singular noun, which translates as "rule" or "(the instrument) ruler" in English, may be preceded immediately by the feminine singular la since French employs definite articles where English does and does not use "the." The pronunciation will be "(la) reg" in Alsatian French and "(la) reh-gluh" in Provençal French. Read More
"Est" is a form of a verb in French. Nouns and adjectives can be masculine or feminine, but verbs are neither masculine nor feminine, and you could use them whatever is the gender of the subject: elle est jolie (she is pretty) - il est grand (he is tall). Read More
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laide *Laide is correct for one feminine noun/person. If it's masculine you would use laid. Feminine plural is laides, masculine plural is laids. Or, if you don't know whether your noun is masculine or feminine, you could always use moche which works for both (moches in the plural). Read More
'Un' means the number one, but it is also the masculine form of a/an, as opposed to 'une' which is feminine. Read More
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The word "violence" is feminine when translated from English to French. The feminine singular noun violence may be preceded immediately by the feminine singular word la since French employs definite articles where English does and does not use "the." The pronunciation will be "vyo-laws" in northerly French and "vyo-law-suh" in southerly French. Read More
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Masculine becomes the gender of the word "violin" when translated from English to French. The French equivalent, violon, may be preceded immediately by the masculine singular le since French employs definite articles where English does not use "the." The pronunciation will be "(luh) vyo-lo" in Cariocan Brazilian and in continental Portuguese. Read More
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'La femme' is the french term for 'the woman' but if you are thinking of a plural term you would use 'les femmes'. If you are talking about girls you would use the word 'fille' or plural 'filles'. Note: 'Les' is what you would use in front of a plural word, masculine or feminine. 'La' is what you would use for a feminine singular word. Read More
"Of (the) fashions" or "some fashions" as a feminine noun and "of methods" or "some methods" as a masculine noun are English equivalents of the French phrase des modes. Whatever the meaning or use, the pronunciation of the plural noun -- which also translates as "of (the)/some styles/trends" in the feminine and "of (the)/some modes/moods/stles/ways" in the masculine -- remains "dey muhd" in French. Read More
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Neither. English does not use grammatical gender. Read More