Grammatical Gender in French

Yu-Ting, Liu

“What if I used a masculine word when I speak in French, what would people think about me?” That was a question I asked my roommate, a francophone Quebecois. She laughed and then replied: “people are going to think you’re not good in French, that’s all.”

As a French language beginner, I have some questions about grammatical gender and pronoun in French language. In my first language, Chinese, there is no grammatical gender. Gender only needs to be specified in written form, such as 他 (he) and 她 (she), but both of them pronounce in the same way “ta”. Therefore, Chinese speakers never have to think about “gender” when they speak, and certainly there is no verb conjugation either! You will find that some Chinese speakers still have the problem when starting a sentence with “he” or “she” in conversations. (At least I do!) However, later when I started to learn English and Korean, there is no grammatical gender rules either. Thus, I was oblivious of this issue until this September I began to learn French.

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