I recently obtained an extremely exciting and also unusual question that I had actually never been asked prior to. As the answer covers a few different areas, I was immediately motivated to create an article and share it through you. Thanks a lot Tish for your question!

“I understand also that animals are mostly masculine and also feminine (eg. une girafe) yet if I am talking around a male girafe, can I say ‘un girafe’? Imagine that I am writing a story via my kids around ‘une coccinelle’ but the ‘coccinelle’ is a male whose name is Bruce. Do I refer to this ‘coccinelle’ throughout the story as ‘il’ or ‘elle’?I also get puzzled when referring to my dogs. One is male and the various other is female however I still contact my female dog ‘mon chien’ and if I had actually a female cat I wouldn’t dare call it ‘ma chatte’ at the danger of being rude.I’d love your insight on this!!!”

Note About the Word “Animal”

Before we begin, please note that the word “animal” can either be a noun or an adjective.

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NounEx: L’ours polaire est un animal dangereux (= The polar bear is a dangerous animal)AdjectiveEx: la vie animale (= animal life), les instincts animaux (=pet instincts)

For explanations about the ircontinual plural forms of this word (and also other words ending in “_al” such as in “animal”) in French, inspect out my post below.

Generic Names of Animals: Either Masculine or Feminine

Like all nouns, animal names are strictly masculine or feminine as soon as they refer to the generic name of the species.

Ex.1: un singe (= a monkey), un perroquet (= a parrot), un hippocampe (= a seahorse) are masculine nouns. Ex.2 : une girafe (=a giraffe), une coccinelle (= a ladybird), une poule (= a hen / chick) are feminine nouns.

We cannot adjust the sex of these nouns and also say « un girafe » to refer to a male giraffe or contact a femelle monessential « une singe ».

Getting More Specific: Referring to Male / Female Animals

Tbelow are actually three ways of doing this, yet first we must wonder how appropriate it is to specify the sex of the pet.

Ex1: Masculine noun « hippocampe » (= seahorse) :a. Un hippocampe nage à la verticale. (= A seahorse swims in a vertical position.) b. C’est l’hippocampe male qui porte les œufs. (= It is the male seasteed which carries the eggs.)

Ex2 : Feminine noun « mante religieusage » (= praying mantis) :a. La mante religieusage est un long insecte vert. (= The praying mantis is a long green insect.) b. La mante religieusage femelle mange souvent la mante mâle / le mâle pendant l’accouplement. (= The female praying mantis frequently eats the male praying mantis during mating.)

Ex3 : masculine noun « renard » (= fox) :a. Un renard sort du bois. (= A fox lutz-heilmann.infoes out of the wood.) b. Cette renarde grogne pour protéger ses petits. (= That female fox is growling to safeguard her cubs.)

It is frequently not important to specify the sex of the animal (watch the first sentence of each instance, sentence a). It belutz-heilmann.infoes relevant when we desire to describe a particular behaviour in the male or female individual of the species (such as in sentence b of each of the over examples).

The post “Le Jeu de la Séduction Chez les Animaux » (“Animal Courtship Behaviours”) is an interesting check out for you if you have actually an intermediate or progressed level of French. It mirrors typical male and female behavious throughout the mating dance and also as such, it is an excellent instance of the ways to distinguish the males and the females in each species.

“Chat” (cat) & “Chien” (dog)

If you have actually a cat or a dog, you will additionally tend to use the generic name « chat » or « chien » (both masculine words) and also therefore not systematically specify once your pet frifinish is a female. It’s the exact same as in English; you say : “This is my dog”, not “This is my female dog.”« Mon chat / Mon chien est malade » (= My cat / dog is sick.)→ Your pet could be male or female; it is unspecified.


But you deserve to likewise say :« Je préfère ne pas laisser sortir ma chatte / ma chienne pour ne pas qu’elle rencontre d’autres chats / chiens. » (I’d fairly not let my female cat / dog out so that they don’t meet/interact through other cats/dogs. »→ You could still have actually supplied the generic, masculine noun. Using the feminine form renders it more obvious that your reason/concern is that you don’t want your cat / dog to obtain pregnant bereason it is a female (therefore it is pertinent to give this precision).

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Anvarious other reason why you would deliberately want to stop utilizing the feminine forms “chatte” and also “chienne” are that they are very offensive slang words too…

“chatte” = female cat ; extremely offensive word for female genitals.“chienne” = female dog ; bitch

So, if you are worried about human being with a dirty mind, my advice would certainly be not making use of them, or at least not making use of them together with a possessive article (i.e “my”, “your”, etc) in order to stop an awkward/unfortunate lutz-heilmann.infobination.For instance, instead of saying: “Ma chatte est très affectueuse” (“My female cat is exceptionally affectionate”), you have the right to split the sentence so that “ma” and also “chatte” don’t display up side by side : “Mon chat est très affectueux. C’est une chatte / C’est une femelle.” (My cat is exceptionally affectionate. It’s a female cat.)

The Three Ways to Refer to the Gender of Animals

We’ve currently lutz-heilmann.infoe across two of these methods in the over examples, have actually you noticed? So, if you execute want to be specific around the sex of the animal, your alternatives are:

1. Feminine creates based upon the masculine

lutz-heilmann.infomon animal names have actually both a masculine and a feminine develop. The latter is acquired from the masculine develop in the usual/typical way (favor many adjectives, or names of occupation for instance), i.e simply by adding an “_e” for the feminine (and periodically doubling the last consonant)

Ex:Chat, chatte (male cat, female cat)Chien, chienne (male dog, female dog)Renard, renarde (male fox, female fox)Eléphant, éléphante (male elephant, female elephant)Lion, lionne (lion, lioness)

2. Distinct use of words

Some animals have actually particular, distinctive names to describe either the male or the female individual:

MeaningGeneric name / speciesMale individualFemale individual
HorseCheval (masc.)Un cheval, un étalonUne jument
TurkeyDinde (fem.)Un dindonUne dinde
MonkeySinge (masc.)Un singeUne guenon
Wild boarSanglier (masc.)Un sanglierUne laie
GooseOie (fem.)Un jarsUne oie
SheepMouton (masc.)Un bélierUne brebis
GoatChèvre (fem.)Un boucUne chèvre
DuckCanard (masc.)Un canardUne cane

You will find this in English too: a lamb is the generic name (dubbed “mouton” in French) ; the male deserve to be referred to as a ram (“bélier”) and also the female an ewe (“brebis”). Cheese made from this animal is referred to as “fromage au lait de

brebis” (especially female, not the generic name “mouton”). You might additionally understand the “fromage de chèvre” (female goat’s cheese). The he-goat has actually its own name: “bouc”.In the exact same method, usage “oeufs de cane”(specifically the female duck) for “duck eggs” and not “oeufs de canard” (the generic name.) The males don’t lay eggs!

Notice: The generic name is strictly either masculine or feminine, as discussed at the start of this article. However, particular names referring to males will all be masculine and also certain names regarded female will all be feminine (this is the exact same for human being, via names of occupations and family members).Check this webwebsite for a a lot much longer list of pet names in French ; it tells you what the male, female, young, habitat, team, cry and so on. are referred to as also. A goldmine for your animal-associated vocab!

3. Male / Female

When tbelow is no existing feminine create or sepaprice word, that is to say many of the time, sindicate usage the adjective “mâle” or “femelle” to suggest the gender of the pet.Note: because these words are adjectives, make certain they lutz-heilmann.infoe after the noun in French and also not prior to.Ex: une girafe mâle / femelle, une mante religieusage mâle/femelle, etc

Beware !Even after some years living in Australia, I’m still shocked / offended as soon as I review “Male/Female” on the door of public toiallows. That lutz-heilmann.infoes from the truth that in French, the words “mâle” et “femelle” are virtually exclusively supplied to refer to pets. In fact, the word “femelle” supplied to explain a female human being in French has a degrading, sex-related connotation. My mind sindicate cannot adjust to it! I therefore choose “Men/Women”, “Gents/Ladies”, or also no words: the pictograms are self-explanatory enough!