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French Grammar -- Tips for Beginners (Part I)

Is French grammar deterring your progress in learning the French language? Well, you can keep aside your worries now and start learning French grammar easily. Actually, learning French grammar can be easier than you think if you know the rules right. To help you perfect your French grammar skills, we have listed few important grammar rules:

Usage of French Noun Gender – Feminine or Masculine       

Well, defining the gender of a noun in French is the persistent woes of every new French learner. In English language, when you name a chair, house, or a sweater, you don’t need to think about its gender, but in French you need to. So when you learn French nouns, it is important that you learn their gender too. One of the easiest ways to understand the noun gender concept in French is by identifying the patterns of masculine and feminine nouns. For example, nouns which ends with – ine, ise, elle, euse and ence are mostly feminine nouns, whereas words which ends with – ble, me, ste, eau, ege and ment are generally masculine nouns.

Thinking how the French noun gender got so twisted? Well, it happened several hundreds of years ago when nouns were divided into – animate and inanimate. The animate noun was further segregated into masculine and feminine and the inanimate as neuter gender. Though the English dropped the noun gender long back but the French language still follows the division of noun gender into masculine and feminine. So beginners need to learn a list of masculine and feminine nouns, to learn correct usage of the noun gender in French sentence constructions.

French Grammar Tips for Beginners

Usage of French Articles

While constructing sentences in French, ‘articles’ usually comes before nouns. French articles are different than English articles, usage of an article basically depends on – Gender (whether a noun is masculine or feminine) and Number (singular or plural). To understand better, please refer the figure below:

Definite Indefinite
 Masculine le un
Feminine la une
Plural les des

Since French nouns are divided into masculine and feminine, the definite article ‘le’ is used for masculine object and ‘la’ is used for feminine thing or person. But in case of a plural word, gender doesn’t play an important role, the definite article ‘les’ is used when referring to a group of people or objects, irrespective of any gender.

For example,

Masculine le téléphone
Plural les téléphones

Similarly, the indefinite article ‘un or une’ is used when referring to an unspecified object or person. For example, ‘un’ is used before a masculine object and ‘une’ before a feminine object and the plural ‘des’ is used when referring to a plural object or person irrespective of any gender. The English equivalent of ‘des’ is some or any.

Examples of Indefinite articles,

English French
I have a book. J’ai un livre.
You eat a banana Tu as mangé une banane.
They are friends Ce sont des amis.

Usage of French Adjectives

Learning French adjectives can be pretty tricky if you are new to French language. The reason behind this is unlike in English, the noun comes before the adjective e.g. instead of saying ‘green car’ French people would say ‘la voiture verte’ which means ‘car green’. French adjectives normally agree with gender and number of noun that they modify. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

For example, terms including

Bon (good)

Grand (big)

Petit (small)

Douce (gentle)

Excellente (excellent)

The above adjectives are used before a noun just like in English language.

Another point to remember is, there are masculine plural and feminine plural. Mostly, the adjective depends on the final letter of a word. For example, French adjectives that ends with ‘E’ are feminine and ‘S’ plural. This rule is applicable to adjective that end in vowels and consonants except the unaccented E. But you must make a note, if the masculine singular adjective ends with an unaccented ‘E’ then there is no difference between the masculine and feminine forms.

Stay tuned to us as we will published French Grammar – Tips for Beginners (Part II) soon, so that you learn every aspect of French grammar bit by bit without putting too much pressure on yourself.

And if you are looking for a French Trainer, let us know by posting your requirement here. We will help you connect with result-oriented French trainers and institutes who can make learning French easy, simple and effective for you.

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