Le Moulin Rouge – Nouns: Gender, number, and articles

On the 6th October 1889, at the foot of Butte Montmartre, the atmosphere was pretty festive: a new music-hall was opening in the Jardin de Paris, the Moulin Rouge, and it wasn’t going unnoticed. The public came in mass to Place Blanche, to discover this extravagant place with its huge dance floor, mirrors everywhere, and galleries that were the last word in elegance, to mix with the riffraff and girls of easy virtue, in a garden decorated with a big elephant with rides on donkeys for the ladies’pleasure. There was such a wild atmosphere that the show was not only on the stage but all around : aristocrats and louts in caps had fun side by side, in an atmosphere of total euphoria.

The masters of the place were Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler. They nicknamed their establishment Le Premier Palais des Femmes (the first Women Palace) and bet on their success, enthusiastically claiming to whoever listened that the Moulin Rouge would become a temple of music and dance.


I) Gender and number of nouns definite and indefinite articles

A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, idea, or quality. Articles, which are often used before nouns, are either definite or indefinite. A definite article identifies something or someone specific (the feather, the tutu). An indefinite article is more general (a feather, a tutu).

French nouns are either masculine or feminine. Most nouns add –s to form the plural. There are four forms of the French definite article.

  Masculine Feminine
Singular Un rideau

Un spectateur

Une jupe

Une femme

Plural Les rideaux

Les spectateurs

Les jupes

Les femmes


Note that both masculine and feminine singular nouns beginning with a vowel or a mute h take the definite article l’ (l’homme).

There are three forms of the French indefinite article.

  Masculine Feminine
Singular Un rideau

Un spectateur

Une jupe

Une femme

Plural Des rideaux

Des spectateurs

Des jupes

Des femmes


English has no plural indefinite article. French “des” is often equivalent to “some” or “any”.


Au cabaret. Ajoutez à chaque substantif l’article définit et écrivez le syntagme (phrase) au pluriel.

Exemple : la demoiselle => les demoiselles

  • Talon
  • Dîner
  • Orchestre
  • Accessoire
  • Plume
  • Corset
  • Chorégraphie
  • Cocktail
  • Cabaret
  • Costume

Dans les coulisses. Ajoutez à chaque substantif l’article indéfini et écrivez le syntagme au pluriel.

Exemple : Un chapeau => des chapeaux

  • Rouge à lèvre
  • Fard à joue
  • Chemisier
  • Cintre
  • Fauteuil
  • Miroir
  • Artiste
  • Tableau
  • Dessous
  • Ruban

II) Plural nouns

Most French nouns form their plural by adding –s. There are some exceptions.

Singular nouns ending in –s, -x, or –z do not change form in the plural.

Le cours => Les cours                                     Un prix => Des prix

Une fois => Des fois                                        La voix => Les voix

Le mois => Les mois                                        Le nez => Les nez

Most nouns ending in –al have a plural form ending in – aux.

L’animal = > les animaux                              L’hôpital => les hôpitaux

Le cheval => les chevaux                              L’idéal => les idéaux

Le général => les généraux                          Le journal => les journaux

There are some exceptions : le bal => les bals, le carnaval => les carnavals, le festival => les festivals, le récital => les récitals.

Nouns ending in –au, -eau, or –eu add –x to form the plural.

Le bateau => les bateaux                             Le cheveu => les cheveux

Le bureau => les bureaux                             Le jeu => les jeux

Exception : Le pneu (tire) => les pneus.

Most nouns ending in –ou add –s to form the plural, but some add –x.

Le clou => les clous                                          Le trou => les trous


Le chou => les choux                                      Le bijou => les bijoux

Le genou => les genoux                                                Le caillou => les cailloux

Some nouns have irregular plurals.

Le ciel => les cieux                                           Monsieur => messieurs

L’œil => les yeux                                              Madame => Mesdames

Le travail => les travaux                                 Mademoiselle => Mesdemoiselles

Family names in French do not change form in the plural.

-Vous connaissez les Durand? => Do you know the Durands?

-Non, mais je sais qu’ils sont les voisins des Chevalier. => No, but I know they are neighbors of the Chevaliers.

Some nouns are used mainly in the plural.

Les ciseaux => scissors                                   Les moeurs => morals

Les frais => expenses, cost                          Les vacances => vacation

Les mathématiques, les maths => math


Some nouns, especially abstract nouns, have no plural.

La foi => faith                                                     La patience => patience

La paix => peace

Numbers and letters used as nouns also have no plural.

“Femme” s’écrit avec deux “m” => « Femme » is written with two m’s.

Il y a deux cinq dans mon numéro. => There are two fives in my phone number.