Appendix:French nouns

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French is a Romance language that evolved from Vulgar Latin. It shares many common features with many other Romance languages.

Gender[edit]

French has retained two genders from Latin; masculine and feminine. Most neuter nouns in Latin become masculine in French, for example un musée (museum).

Declension[edit]

There is no "case system" as in Latin and some other languages. Nouns can have plurals, and when referring to a person, often a job, can have a feminine form.

Nouns don't always agree with the gender of the subject. Un docteur refers to both a male and a female doctor, unless it's someone who possesses a doctorate, this would be une doctoresse. Similarly, victime is always feminine, even when referring to a male subject.

There are some "neologised" feminine forms that are disputed. Professeure (from professeur) and docteure (from docteur) are just two examples.

While many feminine forms can be created just be adding an -e, there are more rules:

Proper nouns[edit]

Proper nouns usually have genders, apart from cities which usually don't. France is feminine for example, and les États-Unis is masculine plural. This does not only apply to countries, but to most proper nouns. La Renault (the car) for example. Proper nouns, including given names and surnames are usually invariable and cannot be pluralized.

Some groups of words which are proper nouns in English are considered as common nouns in French. Languages, days and months, for example are always lowercase and uncountable common nouns:

Regular plurals[edit]

The regular plural of almost all nouns in French is formed by adding an -s to the singular form. Sometimes this is not possible, so the following plural forms are not considered irregular.

  • The plural of nouns ending in -s, -x and -z is the same as the singular:
  • However many nouns ending in -al and -ail form the plural with just an -s. This is not irregular:

Irregular plurals[edit]

Foreign nouns[edit]

  • Some Latin words retain their plural nominative plurals. This is much rarer than in English and can come over as old-fashioned:
  • Some words borrowed from English retain their original plurals, such as words ending in -man or -woman:
  • Plurals ending in -es or -ies in English:
  • Some Italian words can have Italian plurals as well:
  • As in English, sometimes the original plural noun is used as the singular, then another s is added:

Other irregular plurals[edit]

  • Some highly irregular plurals include:
  • A few words ending in -ou have the -oux plural:
  • A few words ending in -au have the plural -aus:

Invariable nouns[edit]

  • Invariable nouns (des noms invariables) are ones that cannot have a grammatical plural. These are sometimes used in the plural but without any modification to the spelling, even if they don't end in -s, -x or -z. These fall into several main categories:
  • Numbers:
  • Letters of the alphabet, not limited to the Latin Alphabet:
  • But they can be pluralised if they have a second meaning: des delta (Greek letters) des deltas (river features)
  • Proper nouns, usually given names and surnames:
  • Musical notes: