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The masculine gender belongs to men, and to animals of the male kind. The feminine belongs to women, and animals of the female kind. But as the French language does not admit of the neuter gender, all inanimate objects, such as table, tree, pen, are either of the masculine or of the feminine gender.

There are two numbers; the singular and the plural. The singular number relates to one person or thing only; as un homme, a man; une table, a table, &c. The plural relates to more than one person or thing. Ex. des hommes, men; des tables, tables.

There are substantives that are never used in the plural, others that are never used in the singular.

Substantives that are never used in the plural.

1st. The names of metals. Ex. de l'or, gold; de l'argent, silver; du cuivre, brass; du plomb, lead, &c. 2dly. The names of virtues and vices. Ex. l'avarice, avarice; la charité, charity; la foi, faith; la haine, hatred ; l'orgueil, pride; la prodigalité, prodigality, &c.

3dly. The names by which the five senses are denoted. Ex. la vue, the sight; le goût, the taste; l'odorat, the smell; le toucher, feeling; l'ouïe, hearing.

4thly. Proper names, except when they are used metaphorically.

5thly. To the foregoing may be added the following, which are not reducible to any general rules:

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1. In general the plural number of substantives is formed by adding an s to the singular.

le père, the father;

la mère, the mother;


les pères, the fathers.

les mères, the mothers, &c.

2. All substantives of which the singular ends in s, x,

or z, remain the same in the plural. Ex.

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4. The following differ from the above substantives, and

form their plural by adding an s:

un matou, a great cat;

un trou, a hole;

un clou, a nail;

des matous, great cats.

des clous, nails.

des trous, holes.

5. Substantives ending in al and ail have their plural in

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6. Except the following, which form their plural in s :

un bal, a ball.

un évantail, a fan.

un détail, an account.

un portail, a gateway.

un gouvernail, a helm.

un épouvantail, a bugbear

un sérail, a seraglio.

7. Substantives of more than one syllable ending in nt generally form their plural by changing the t into s; as,

un enfant, a child;
le commandement, the com-


des enfans, children.
des commandemens,
mands *.


8. But those of one syllable only preserve the t, and form the plural by adding s; as,

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Except {

des aïeux, grandfathers.

des bestiaux, cattle.
les cieux, heavens.

des yeux, eyes.

des ciels de lit, testers of beds.

des œils de bœuf, small round windows.

Compound words, in French, require some attention from the learner, in the formation of their plural; for example :

10. When a noun is composed of a substantive and of an adjective united by a hyphen, both words take the sign of the plural; as,

un gentil-homme, a nobleman; des gentils-hommes, noblemen.

11. When the two substantives are connected by a preposition between hyphens, the first substantive only in French takes the sign of the plural; as,

un arc-en-ciel, a rainbow.
un chef-d'œuvre, a master-

12. Some, composed of a

des arcs-en-ciel, rainbows.
des chefs-d'œuvre,



noun substantive and of a

preposition or a verb, remain the same in the singular; as,

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The French Academy have lately decided that the t should not be dropped, and most modern writers leave it also in the plural: moments.

13. Monseigneur, my lord
Monsieur, Mr. or Master
Madame, Mrs. or Madam
Mademoiselle, Miss

male in the


Messeigneurs, my lords.

Mesdames, ladies.
Mesdemoiselles, misses.


14. Sometimes two substantives are used together in English, the former of which serves to express the material of which the latter is made, or the place whence it comes; such as a silver fork, i. e. a fork made of silver; Burgundy wine, i. e. wine from Burgundy. When translating this kind of compound substantives, that which is put first in English must be placed last in French, and they must be connected by the preposition de. Ex.

a brick-house;

a straw-hat;

une maison de brique.
un chapeau de paille.

du poisson de mer.

15. But if the former word, in English, expresses the use to which the latter is destined, the preposition à, instead of de, must be put between them.


de la poudre à canon.

some gunpowder;


It has been asserted by some, that what are called cases, in the language of grammar, do not exist in French, nor in English, because the relation in which the nouns substantive stand, in a sentence, is not marked by their termination, as in Latin and in Greek. Thus, for instance, in

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each case is marked, in the Latin, by the alteration in the termination of Dominus; whereas lord and seigneur remain the same. But it may be observed that, on the other hand, different prepositions, of, to, from: de, à, are used before

the nouns in French and in English, which answer the
same purpose.
It may, therefore, be said that cases exist
in these languages. Besides, as young gentlemen are
familiarised with the technical words nominative, genitive,
dative, accusative, vocative, and ablative, any other ex-
pressions would puzzle them; and they may easily be
explained by the master to those who do not understand
them. In the mean time, as a considerable difference ex-
ists between the formation of the French and the English
genitive, the student must attend to the following


When the English genitive is formed by adding an s and an apostrophe (') to the first of two substantives, the French genitive must be formed by connecting the two substantives by means of the preposition de, taking care that the substantive which is placed first in English shall be last in French. Ex.

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What is the difference between a substantive common

and a substantive proper?

What are substantives collective?

How many genders are there in French?

How many numbers ?

How is the plural of French substantives generally


How do those in s, x, or z form their plural?

Those in au, eau, &c.?

Those in al and ail?

Those ending in nt?

Mention those which do not conform to any rule.
How is the plural of compound substantives formed?



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