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Table of Genders of French Nouns from French Three Years

One of the tricky things about learning French is learning the gender of the nouns.  This is important because several words in a sentence can depend on a noun’s gender, and if you get that wrong, much of the sentence is wrong.

Traditionally, you just learn which nouns are masculine and feminine as you learn the vocabulary.  This works well in ideal cases.

If you are learning a lot of vocabulary, though, it can be easy to default to the tactic of a relative of ours who arbitrarily assigned one gender to all the nouns he wasn’t sure of.  This way, he explained to us, he would be right, on average, about 50% of the time which isn’t too bad.

However, there are some generalizations about which nouns are masculine and which are feminine.  These are not commonly known (I do not recall ever learning them myself) and our relative did not seem to know about them, but they are oh-so-helpful.

So, for any serious student of French, here’s a table of genders of French nouns from the excellent text French Three Years by Blume and Stein.  Memorize this and you will get the genders right a whole lot more than 50% of the time.

masculine feminine
-acle le spectacle -ade l’orangeade
-age* le village -ale la capitale
-al le journal -ance la connaissance
-eau* le bureau -ence la compétence
-et le cabinet -ette la raquette
-ier le cahier -ie la biologie
-isme le cyclisme -ique la république
-ment l’établissement -oire la victoire
-sion la télévision
-tion la nation
-ure la coiffure

*Note these exceptions:  la page, la plage; l’eau, la pneau. (p 235)

As for the rest of the French Three Years, it covers essentially all French grammar in an organized and clear way with many exercises to help students practice each topic.  The 600 page book is divided into four parts:

  • Verbal Structures
  • Noun Structures, Pronoun Structures, Prepositions
  • Adjective/Adverb and Related Structures
  • Civilization

The final part, about French civilization, covers geography, history, agriculture, industry, commerce, daily life, literature, fine arts, music, and sciences.  It, too, has review exercises.

The book finishes with a comprehensive test and several useful appendices, but there are no chapter quizzes.  For chapter quizzes I have just assigned various exercise questions from the chapter in the past, but this time around I’m formally testing key grammar concepts as well.

Note that French Three Years contains no formal oral or conversation component at all, but that is easy to add in by doing some exercises orally or by reading Part Four of the book out loud and discussing it. Of course, at this level it is also easy to find another book or resource for oral work.

The book is can be written in, but one can also use it as a textbook and do the exercises on paper.

There is a small, very helpful answer key that makes the course possible to teach even for someone whose French has gotten a bit rusty.  That being said, to teach French Three Years effectively you will need to know French to an advanced intermediate level.

French Three Years is best taken after earlier French courses covering all the tenses and other basic grammar as well as a significant amount of vocabulary.  For example, French 2 from Bob Jones University Press and French is Fun 2 by Stein and Wald each provide a solid preparation for this book.

In conclusion, if you are looking for an organized, comprehensive review and consolidation of French grammar and vocabulary, French Three Years is an excellent choice.

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I am grateful to my favorite university students who asked me to help them learn French using this textbook and thus encouraged me to relearn it as well.

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Disclosure: I bought this book years ago and am not compensated for this review.

This article may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

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