Gender in French language: is it his car or hers?

One of the difficult things in learning the French language is to understand which things are feminine and which are masculine. But the use of this goes ever further, let me tell you about it.

All words and thus all things have a gender in French. There are masculine words that have “le” in front of it and there are feminine words that have “la” in front of it. For example, two weeks ago I discovered that a table is a lady: La table. This goes for most words ending with an e. A car by definition is also a girl: la voiture, I wonder why ;-). When I ask French people why things are boys or girls they never really know apart from some philosophies about why a car must be a girl ;-).

The difference in gender also shows up when talking about people. This is when it becomes difficult for a lot of people who are learning French. When I talk about someone’s car you would say his or her car depending on the owner. In French this depends on the object. So a car will always be her car, or in French: sa voiture. Or when they would talk about my wife’s newly obtained diploma: sont diploma, or his diploma. Because for some strange reason the diploma is masculine.

So when you talk about an object in French, remember: is it a boy or a girl? The owner doesn’t matter.