09 Jun Is COVID masculine or feminine
One of the French-English translators on our team wrote this short article on the following subject. We hope you enjoy!
Is COVID-19 masculine or feminine in French?
Figuring out the gender of French words is tricky but when it comes to new words, it is almost impossible. For COVID-19, the suspense is over. L’Académie Française, the higher institution of French linguists also called the Immortals, has the answer. Check the Académie ‘s statement on its website….
COVID is a feminine noun. So, we should say “la” Covid-19, instead of “le” Covid-19.
The reasoning of the Academy is that the gender of the acronym should follow the gender of the core word in the acronym. COVID stands for the disease of the coronavirus; as Disease (or “maladie”) is feminine, COVID must also be feminine. Following the same principle, we say “la CIA” as agency is feminine, and “le FBI” as bureau is masculine.
However, the use of COVID as masculine is already the norm in France. “Le Covid-19” is everywhere. Journalists, writers, internet users, etc. all refer to COVID as masculine. So, who will win this gender battle? The Académie Francaise might be the “guardian of the French language” but they cannot control the widespread practice. No doubt, the common use will prevail over the proper use. As Ferdinand De Saussure, a famous French linguist said, “language is a social fact”. It changes constantly and linguists should keep monitoring how the language is used in daily life.