Gender Neutral Adjectives

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Gender Neutral Adjectives

For Francophonie Month, the Pride Centre is working to help University of Ottawa students learn about gender-neutral terms in French. Using gender-neutral terms can help provide a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space for individuals of all gender identities! Last week we focused on gender neutral terms for addressing groups, and this time we are going to emphasize gender neutral adjectives.

Adjectives are words that we use to describe nouns. In French, many terms that you may typically use to describe something or someone are gendered. An example of this could be if you want to describe your friend as gentil(le). With this term, you have to make a decision on the pronunciation and spelling depending on the gender identity of your friend. Instead of using gendered adjectives, you can choose a synonymous adjective that doesn’t change for gender. Alternatively, you can use a “personne” construction by replacing adding “une personne” before the adjective. In this case the adjective agrees with the word “personne” rather than with the gender of the person you’re talking about.

Here are some examples:

Gendered Phrase

Inclusive Phrase

gentil(le)

sympa, sympathique

plaisant/plaisante

agréable

Il est intelligent

C’est une personne intelligente

expert.e

spécialiste

courageux, courageuse

brave

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Click here to learn more about inclusive language.