Grammatical gender

Grammatical gender

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Grammatical gender is defined linguistically
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjective
Adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

s, verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

s and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be very few that belong to several classes at once. If a language distinguishes between genders, in order to correctly decline
Inflection
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

 any noun and any modifier
Grammatical modifier
In grammar, a modifier is an optional element in phrase structure or clause structure; the removal of the modifier typically doesn't affect the grammaticality of the sentence....

 or other type of word affected by that noun, one must identify the gender of the noun.

While Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 (Anglo-Saxon) had grammatical gender, Modern English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is normally described as lacking grammatical gender, outside of its pronouns.

The linguistic notion of grammatical gender is distinguished from the biological and social notion of natural gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

, although they interact closely in many languages. Both grammatical and natural gender can have linguistic effects in a given language.

Overview


Grammatical gender is typical of Afro-Asiatic
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

, Dravidian
Dravidian languages
The Dravidian language family includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, and...

, Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

, Northeast Caucasian
Northeast Caucasian languages
The Northeast Caucasian languages constitute a language family spoken in the Russian republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, northern Azerbaijan, and in northeastern Georgia, as well as in diaspora populations in Russia, Turkey, and the Middle East...

, and several Australian aboriginal languages
Australian Aboriginal languages
The Australian Aboriginal languages comprise several language families and isolates native to the Australian Aborigines of Australia and a few nearby islands, but by convention excluding the languages of Tasmania and the Torres Strait Islanders...

 such as Dyirbal
Dyirbal language
Dyirbal is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken in northeast Queensland by about 5 speakers of the Dyirbal tribe. It is a member of the small Dyirbalic branch of the Pama–Nyungan family...

. It is usually absent in the Altaic
Altaic languages
Altaic is a proposed language family that includes the Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, and Japonic language families and the Korean language isolate. These languages are spoken in a wide arc stretching from northeast Asia through Central Asia to Anatolia and eastern Europe...

, Austronesian
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

, Sino-Tibetan
Sino-Tibetan languages
The Sino-Tibetan languages are a language family comprising, at least, the Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman languages, including some 250 languages of East Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. They are second only to the Indo-European languages in terms of the number of native speakers...

, Uralic
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

 and most Native American language families. The Niger–Congo languages
Niger–Congo languages
The Niger–Congo languages constitute one of the world's major language families, and Africa's largest in terms of geographical area, number of speakers, and number of distinct languages. They may constitute the world's largest language family in terms of distinct languages, although this question...

 typically have an extensive system of noun classes, which can be grouped into several grammatical genders (Corbett, 1991).

Many languages place each noun into two or three gender classes commonly called masculine, feminine, and neuter in English. These classifications were originally assigned to modern High German by Jakob Grimm (of the Brothers Grimm
Brothers Grimm
The Brothers Grimm , Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm , were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected folklore and published several collections of it as Grimm's Fairy Tales, which became very popular...

) under the names männlich, weiblich, and neutrum. Grimm follows a long tradition of mistaking grammatical gender for natural gender in choosing these names. In fact, the word "gender" itself, which simply means "type, kind, or sort," is now generally mistaken in English as referring specifically to social and biological distinctions. It is important to note that the terms are used purely for linguistic classification and have no biological implications. It is possible for words pertaining to the sexes (male and female) to be inconsistent with their respective gender designation in any specific language.

For example, in their nominative singular forms Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 nouns are typically feminine if they have the ending
Marker (linguistics)
In linguistics, a marker is a free or bound morpheme that indicates the grammatical function of the marked word, phrase, or sentence. In analytic languages and agglutinative languages, markers are generally easily distinguished. In fusional languages and polysynthetic languages, this is often not...

 -a, neuter when they end with -o, -e, or , and masculine if they have no gender suffix (null morpheme
Null morpheme
In morpheme-based morphology, a null morpheme is a morpheme that is realized by a phonologically null affix . In simpler terms, a null morpheme is an "invisible" affix. It is also called a zero morpheme; the process of adding a null morpheme is called null affixation, null derivation or zero...

). Thus, encyklopedia "encyclopaedia" is feminine, krzesło "chair" is neuter, and ręcznik "towel" is masculine. When the adjective duży "big" is combined with these nouns in phrase
Phrase
In everyday speech, a phrase may refer to any group of words. In linguistics, a phrase is a group of words which form a constituent and so function as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence. A phrase is lower on the grammatical hierarchy than a clause....

s, it changes form according to their grammatical gender
Agreement (linguistics)
In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

:
Gender Noun Phrase Meaning
Masculine ręcznik duży ręcznik big towel
Feminine encyklopedia duża encyklopedia big encyclopaedia
Neuter krzesło duże krzesło big chair


As can be seen, the neuter gender does not include all nouns that correspond to genderless realities. Some of these may be designated by nouns that are grammatically masculine or feminine. Also, some nouns that refer to males or females may have a different grammatical gender.

In general, the boundaries of noun classes are rather arbitrary, although there are rules of thumb in many languages. In this context, the terms "masculine", "feminine" and "neuter" should be understood merely as convenient labels. They are suggestive class descriptors, but not every member of a class is well described by its label. Note that some words, called epicene
Epicene
Epicene is an adjective for loss of gender distinction, often specific loss of masculinity. It includes:* effeminacy — a man with characteristics that are traditionally feminine...

, may have identical forms for different genders. For example, in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 testigo "witness" and grande "big" can be masculine or feminine.

Spanish is also an example of a language with only two genders, masculine and feminine; it has no neuter noun class (see Grammatical gender in Spanish
Grammatical gender in Spanish
Every noun in Spanish is considered to have either masculine or feminine gender for grammatical purposes. Many Spanish adjectives and determiners alter their form to agree in gender with the noun that they modify, and likewise many pronouns show gender agreement with their antecedent nouns...

). Nouns that designate entities with no natural gender, such as objects or abstractions, are distributed among the masculine and the feminine. In a few other languages, notably North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

 like Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, the former masculine and feminine genders of nouns have become indistinguishable with time, merging into a new class called the common gender, which however remains distinct from the neuter gender (while pronouns in Danish have grown into four genders: male, female, common, and neuter: "han", "hun", "den", "det").
Common gender: includes most words that refer to males or females, but is distinct from the neuter gender.

A full system of grammatical gender involves two phenomena:
Inflection
Inflection
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

: Many words have different forms for different genders, and certain morphological markers
Marker (linguistics)
In linguistics, a marker is a free or bound morpheme that indicates the grammatical function of the marked word, phrase, or sentence. In analytic languages and agglutinative languages, markers are generally easily distinguished. In fusional languages and polysynthetic languages, this is often not...

 are characteristic of each gender.
Agreement
Agreement (linguistics)
In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

: Every noun is associated with one gender class. In a phrase or clause, words that refer to a given noun inflect
Inflection
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

 to match the gender of that noun.

Other languages still, like English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, are rarely regarded as having grammatical gender, since they do not make gender distinctions through inflection, and do not generally require gender agreement between related words. Although gender marking is not significant in modern English, some distinctions in personal pronouns have been inherited from Old English, in which nouns had grammatical gender, giving speakers of Modern English a notion of how grammatical gender works, although these gendered pronouns are now ordinarily selected based on the physical sex (or lack thereof) of the items to which they refer rather than any strictly linguistic classification:
John insisted that he would pay for his own dinner.
Jane insisted that she would pay for her own dinner.

Here, the gender of the subject is marked both on the personal pronouns (he/she) and on the possessive adjectives (his/her). Marking of gender on the possessive form can be considered redundant in these examples, since his own and her own must refer to their respective antecedent
Antecedent (grammar)
In grammar, an antecedent is a noun, noun phrase, or clause to which an anaphor refers in a coreference. For example, in the passage "I did not see John because he wasn't there", "John" is the antecedent of the anaphor "he"; together "John" and "he" are called a coreference because they both refer...

s, he and she, which are already unambiguously marked for gender.

Gender inflection


In many languages, gender is marked quite explicitly, and in different ways.
"I love you" in Arabic:
said to a male – uħibbuka (أُحِبُّكَ)
said to a female – uħibbuki (أُحِبُّكِ)
"I am very grateful" in Portuguese:
said by a male – muito obrigado
said by a female – muito obrigada


The switch from one gender to the other is typically achieved by inflecting appropriate words, the object suffix of the verb uħibbu-ka/ki in the Arabic example (gender is not marked in the first person
Grammatical person
Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns...

, in Arabic), and the suffix in the past participle (or adjective) obrig-ado/a in the Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 example (literally this means "much obliged," with "I am" understood; thus it agrees with the gender of the speaker).

In Spanish, most masculine nouns and their modifiers end with the suffix -o or with a consonant, while the suffix -a is characteristic of feminine nouns and their modifiers (though there are many exceptions). Thus, niño means “boy," and niña means “girl." This paradigm can be exploited for making new words: from the masculine nouns abogado "lawyer," diputado "member of parliament" and doctor "doctor," it was straightforward to make the feminine equivalents abogada, diputada, and doctora.

Sometimes, gender is expressed in more subtle ways. On the whole, gender marking has been lost in Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

, both on the noun, and often, on the adjective. However, it has the peculiar feature of initial mutation
Consonant mutation
Consonant mutation is when a consonant in a word changes according to its morphological and/or syntactic environment.Mutation phenomena occur in languages around the world. A prototypical example of consonant mutation is the initial consonant mutation of all modern Celtic languages...

, where the first consonant of a word changes into another in certain syntactical conditions. Gender is one of the factors that can cause mutation, especially the so-called soft mutation. For instance, the word merch, which means girl or daughter, changes into ferch after the definite article. This only occurs with feminine singular nouns; for example, mab "son" remains unchanged after the definite article. Adjectives are affected by gender in a similar way.
Gender Default After definite article With adjective
Masculine mab son y mab the son y mab mawr the big son
Feminine Singular merch girl y ferch the girl y ferch fawr the big girl
Feminine Plural merched girls y merched the girls y merched mawr the big girls

Personal names



Personal names are frequently constructed with language-specific affixes that identify the gender of the bearer. Common feminine suffixes used in English names are -a, of Latin or Romance
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 origin (cf. Robert and Roberta) and -e, of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 origin (cf. Justin and Justine). Although gender inflection may be used to construct cognate nouns for the people of opposite genders in languages that have grammatical gender, this alone does not constitute grammatical gender. Distinct names for men and women are also common in languages where gender is not grammatical.

Personal pronouns


Personal pronoun
Personal pronoun
Personal pronouns are pronouns used as substitutes for proper or common nouns. All known languages contain personal pronouns.- English personal pronouns :English in common use today has seven personal pronouns:*first-person singular...

s often have different forms based on gender. Even though it has lost gender-related inflection
Inflection
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

s, English still distinguishes between "he" (generally applied to a male person), "she" (female person), and "it" (object, abstraction, or animal). But this also does not guarantee the existence of grammatical gender. There is a spoken form, "they," which although not part of the standard literary language, is cosmopolitan in the English-speaking world and is used when the gender of a person being referred to is not known (e.g. "This person doesn't know where they are going").

Gendered pronouns and their corresponding inflections vary considerably across languages. In languages that never had grammatical gender, there is normally just one word for "he" and "she," like dia in Indonesian
Indonesian language
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....

, hän in Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

, ő in Hungarian
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

 and o in Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

. These languages have different pronouns and inflections in the third person
Grammatical person
Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns...

 only to differentiate between people and inanimate objects (and even this distinction is commonly waived in spoken Finnish).

Dummy pronouns


In languages with only a masculine and a feminine gender, the default dummy pronoun
Dummy pronoun
A dummy pronoun is a type of pronoun used in non-pro-drop languages, such as English....

 is usually the masculine third person singular. For example, the French sentence for "It's raining" is Il pleut, literally "He rains." There are some exceptions: the corresponding sentence in Welsh is Mae hi'n bwrw glaw, "She's raining." In languages with a neuter gender, the neuter gender is usually used: German: Es regnet, literally "It rains." In fact, the English word 'it' comes from the Old English neuter gender. In a pro-drop language
Pro-drop language
A pro-drop language is a language in which certain classes of pronouns may be omitted when they are in some sense pragmatically inferable...

, the dummy pronoun can be dropped: Choveu ontem is literally "rained yesterday" in Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

, meaning "It rained yesterday;" and Hace frío in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 literally means "Makes cold." In Arabic, a dummy pronoun, known more specifically as a resumptive pronoun
Resumptive pronoun
A resumptive pronoun is a pronoun in a relative clause which refers to the antecedent of the main clause. The slight majority of world languages use resumptive pronouns instead of gaps in relative clauses...

, is used in relative clauses to refer back to the relative pronoun
Relative pronoun
A relative pronoun is a pronoun that marks a relative clause within a larger sentence. It is called a relative pronoun because it relates the relative clause to the noun that it modifies. In English, the relative pronouns are: who, whom, whose, whosever, whosesoever, which, and, in some...

: .كريم هو الرجل الذي رأيته قبلاً karīmu huwwa ar-rajlu ul-laḏī raʾaytuhu qablan literally meaning "Kareem he is the man which I saw him earlier," or in other words "Kareem is the man that I saw earlier."

Gender agreement


In the French sentences Lui, c'est un grand acteur "He is a great actor" and Elle, c'est une grande actrice "She is a great actress", almost every word changes to match the gender of the subject. The noun acteur inflects by replacing the masculine suffix -eur with the feminine suffix -rice, the disjunctive personal pronoun lui "he" changes to elle "she", and the feminine suffix -e is added to the article (unune) and to the adjective (grandgrande). Only the presentative set phrase c'est "he/she/it is" remains unchanged.

The following "highly contrived" Old English sentence serves as an example of gender agreement.

Old English Seo brade lind wæs tilu and ic hire lufod.
Modern English gloss That broad shield was good and I her loved.
Modern English translation That broad shield was good and I loved it.


The word hire "her" refers to lind "shield". Since this noun was grammatically feminine, the adjectives brade "broad" and tilu "good", as well as the pronouns seo "the/that" and hire "her", which referred to lind, must also appear in their feminine forms. Old English had three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter, but gender inflections were greatly simplified by sound change
Sound change
Sound change includes any processes of language change that affect pronunciation or sound system structures...

s, and then completely lost (as well as number
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 inflections, to a lesser extent).

In modern English, by contrast, the noun "shield" takes the neuter pronoun "it", since it designates a genderless object. In a sense, the neuter gender has grown to encompass most nouns, including many that were masculine or feminine in Old English. If one were to replace the phrase "broad shield" with "brave man" or "kind woman", the only change to the rest of the sentence would be in the pronoun at the end, which would become "him" or "her", respectively.

Grammatical vs. natural gender


The grammatical gender of a word does not always coincide with real gender of its referent. An often cited example is the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 word Mädchen, which means "girl", but is treated grammatically as neuter. This is because it was constructed as the diminutive
Diminutive
In language structure, a diminutive, or diminutive form , is a formation of a word used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment...

 of Magd (maidservant; archaic nowadays), and the diminutive suffix -chen conventionally places nouns in the "neuter" noun class. There is a certain tendency to keep the grammatical gender when a close back-reference is made, but to switch to natural gender when the reference is further away. Therefore, it is possible to say either Das Mädchen ist aus der Schule gekommen. Es macht jetzt seine Hausaufgaben. and Das Mädchen ist aus der Schule gekommen. Sie macht jetzt ihre Hausaufgaben. (both: The girl has come home from school. She is now doing her homework). With one or more intervening sentences, the second way (which may be frowned upon by language purists) becomes more likely: Das Mädchen ist aus der Schule gekommen. Heute ist es ziemlich spät geworden, da der Schulbus im Stau stecken blieb. Sie macht jetzt ihre Hausaufgaben. (... It has gotten pretty late today, as the school bus was caught up in a traffic jam. ...). However, no number of adjectives put between the article and the noun (like das schöne, fleißige, langhaarige, blonde, Jeans und T-Shirt tragende [...] Mädchen) can license a switch from the neutral to the feminine article, so it is always considered wrong to say a sentence like die schöne [...] Mädchen.

A few more examples:
  • Old English had two common words for "woman": þat wīf (neuter) and se wīfmann (masculine). (These words are the origins, respectively, of modern "wife" and "woman".)
  • German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

     die Frau (feminine) and das Weib (neuter) both mean "the woman", though the latter is considered archaic for most purposes (although some people may use mein Weib in a jocular fashion in non-formal contexts, and Weiber is still used sometimes with a derogatory meaning).
  • Irish
    Irish language
    Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

     cailín "girl" is masculine, while stail "stallion" is feminine.
  • Scottish Gaelic
    Scottish Gaelic language
    Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language native to Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus descends ultimately from Primitive Irish....

     boireannach "woman" is masculine.
  • Slovenian dekle "girl" is neuter, while its cognate dekla "maidservant" is feminine.
  • Swedish
    Swedish language
    Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

     människa "human" is feminine; in proper Swedish the feminine pronoun is used to refer to människa regardless of natural gender, although this usage may sound overly formal today.
  • Spanish
    Spanish language
    Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

     la gente "the people" is feminine, even if the collective term refers to a group of men.


Normally, such exceptions are a small minority. However, in some local dialects of German, nouns and proper names for female persons have shifted to the neuter gender (presumably further influenced by the standard word Weib), but the feminine gender remains for words denoting objects, and few words for outstanding women, such as "nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

" or "queen" (but not usually "princess
Princess
Princess is the feminine form of prince . Most often, the term has been used for the consort of a prince, or his daughters....

"). Some dialects switch the gender of proper names to female, when they refer to one of those outstanding female persons.

It is also sometimes found to be counterintuitive that nouns associated with one of the sexes, such as those denoting male or female sex organs, need not have a corresponding gender. For example, in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 le vagin ("vagina") is masculine.

Indeterminate gender


In languages with a masculine and feminine gender (and possibly a neuter), the masculine is usually employed by default to refer to persons of unknown gender. This is still done sometimes in English, although a disputed alternative is to use the singular "they"
Singular they
Singular they is the use of they to refer to an entity that is not plural, or not necessarily plural. Though singular they is widespread in everyday English and has a long history of usage, debate continues about its acceptability...

. Another alternative is to use two nouns, as in the phrase "ladies and gentlemen" (hendiadys
Hendiadys
Hendiadys is a figure of speech used for emphasis — "The substitution of a conjunction for a subordination". The basic idea is to use two words linked by a conjunction to express a single complex idea....

).

In the plural, the masculine is often used to refer to a mixed group of people. Thus, in French the feminine pronoun elles always designates an all-female group of people, but the masculine pronoun ils may refer to a group of males, to a mixed group, or to a group of people of unknown genders. In English, this issue does not arise with pronouns, since there is only one plural third person pronoun, "they". However, a group of actors and actresses would still be described as a group of "actors". However, this is also because the word "actress" is falling out of use in English, while the word "actor," like "doctor," applies to thespians of both sexes.

In all these cases, one says that the feminine gender is semantically marked
Markedness
Markedness is a specific kind of asymmetry relationship between elements of linguistic or conceptual structure. In a marked-unmarked relation, one term of an opposition is the broader, dominant one...

, while the masculine gender is unmarked.

In Swedish, on the other hand, it is the masculine form of an adjective that is marked (in the weak inflection, with an -e,) e.g. min lille bror "my little brother". This form is reserved for naturally masculine nouns or male human beings in modern Swedish. Even so, the third person singular masculine pronoun han would normally be the default for a person of unknown gender in Swedish, although in practice the indefinite pronoun man and the reflexive sig and/or its possessive forms sin/sitt/sina usually make this unnecessary.

Animals


Often, the masculine/feminine classification is only followed carefully for human beings. For animals, the relation between real and grammatical gender tends to be more arbitrary. In Spanish, for instance, a cheetah is always un guepardo (masculine) and a zebra is always una cebra (feminine), regardless of their biological sex. If it becomes necessary to specify the sex of the animal, an adjective is added, as in un guepardo hembra (a female cheetah), or una cebra macho (a male zebra). Different names for the male and the female of a species are more frequent for common pets or farm animals, e.g. English cow and bull, Spanish vaca "cow" and toro "bull".

In English, it is common to refer to animals, especially house pets, for which the natural gender is known as "he" and "she", accordingly, and to animals of unknown gender as "it". Individual speakers may refer to animals of unknown sex by a gender, depending on species – for instance, some speakers may tend to refer to dogs as "he" and to cats as "she".

Objects and abstractions


Since all nouns must belong to some noun class, many end up with genders which are purely conventional
Convention (norm)
A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms or criteria, often taking the form of a custom....

. For instance, the Romance languages inherited sol "sun" (which is masculine) and luna "moon" (which is feminine) from Latin but in German and other Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 Sonne "sun" is feminine and Mond "moon" is masculine. Two nouns denoting the same concept can also differ in gender in closely related languages, or within a single language. For instance, there are two different words for "car" in German: "Wagen" is masculine, whereas "Auto" is neuter. Meanwhile the word "auto" is masculine in Spanish, but it is feminine in French. In all cases, the meaning is the same. Similarly, there are two Swedish words for "boat." "En båt" is common gender, while "ett skepp" is neutral.

Several words ending in -aje in Spanish are masculine: viaje (travel), paisaje (landscape), coraje (courage). But their Portuguese equivalent are feminine: viagem, paisagem, coragem. The Latin word via, from which both variants (viaje and viagem) derived was feminine. Conversely, the Spanish word "nariz" (nose) is feminine, whereas the Portuguese word for "nose" is spelled identically, but it is masculine.

Also, in Polish the word księżyc "moon" is masculine, while its Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 counterpart луна is feminine. The Russian word for "sun", солнце, is neuter, while Latin word of the same archaic root
Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

 sol is masculine. Also, the Russian word собака "dog" is feminine, while its Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

 counterpart (with the same spelling and an almost identical pronunciation) is masculine.

Examples:
LanguageWordMeaningGender
Polish księżyc moon masculine
Portuguese lua moon feminine
Russian луна moon feminine
Spanish luna moon feminine
Russian картофель potato masculine
Russian картошка potato feminine
Spanish patata potato feminine
Polish tramwaj tram masculine
Czech tramvaj tram feminine
Romanian tramvai tram neuter
Polish tysiąc thousand masculine
Russian тысяча thousand feminine


There is nothing inherent about the moon which makes it objectively "male" or "female". In these cases, gender is quite independent of meaning, and a property of the nouns themselves, rather than of their referents.

Sometimes the gender switches: Russian тополь (poplar) is now masculine, but less than 200 years ago (in writings of Lermontov) it was feminine. The modern loanword виски (from whisky/whiskey) was originally feminine (in a translation of Jack London
Jack London
John Griffith "Jack" London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone...

 stories, 1915), then masculine (in a song of Alexander Vertinsky
Alexander Vertinsky
Alexander Nikolayevich Vertinsky was a Russian and Soviet artist, poet, singer, composer, cabaret artist and actor who exerted seminal influence on the Russian tradition of artistic singing.-Early years:...

, 1920s or 1930s), and today it has become neuter (the masculine variant is typically considered archaic, and the feminine one is completely forgotten). In Polish kometa (comet) is nowadays feminine, but less than 200 years ago (in writing of Mickiewicz) it was masculine.

Other types of gender classifications


Some languages have gender-like noun classifications unrelated to gender identity. Particularly common are languages with animate and inanimate categories. The term "grammatical genders" is also used by extension in this case, although many authors prefer "noun classes" when none of the inflections in a language relate to sex. Note however that the word "gender" derives from Latin genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

(also the root of genre) originally meant "kind", so it does not necessarily have a sexual meaning. For further information, see Animacy
Animacy
Animacy is a grammatical and/or semantic category of nouns based on how sentient or alive the referent of the noun in a given taxonomic scheme is...

.

Some Slavic languages, including Russian, Czech
Czech language
Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

, and Slovak
Slovak language
Slovak , is an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages .Slovak is the official language of Slovakia, where it is spoken by 5 million people...

, make grammatical distinctions between animate and inanimate nouns (in Czech only in the masculine gender; in Russian only in masculine singular, but in the plural in all genders). Another example is Polish, which can be said to distinguish five genders: personal masculine (referring to male humans), animate non-personal masculine, inanimate masculine, feminine, and neuter.
masculine translation
animate inanimate
personal impersonal
Polish To jest
dobry nauczyciel.
To jest
dobry pies.
To jest
dobry ser.
It's a good teacher
/ a good dog / good cheese.
Widzę
dobrego nauczyciela.
Widzę
dobrego psa.
Widzę
dobry ser.
I see a good teacher
/ a good dog / good cheese.
Widzę
dobrych nauczycieli.
Widzę
dobre psy.
Widzę
dobre sery.
I see good teachers
/ good dogs / good cheeses.
Slovene To je
dober učitelj / dober pes.
To je
dober sir.
It's a good teacher
/ a good dog / good cheese.
Vidim
dobrega učitelja / dobrega psa.
Vidim
dober sir.
I see a good teacher
/ a good dog / good cheese.


See Polish grammar, for further information.

Serbo-Croatian
Serbo-Croatian
Serbo-Croatian or Serbo-Croat, less commonly Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian , is a South Slavic language with multiple standards and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro...

 has the same system as Slovene, but is traditionally described as having a three-gender system with a separate animacy distinction.

Belarusian
Belarusian language
The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

 and Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

 have the same system as Russian.

Gender assignment



There are three main ways by which natural languages categorize nouns into genders: according to logical or symbolic similarities in their meaning (semantic), by grouping them with other nouns that have similar form (morphological), or through an arbitrary convention (lexical, possibly rooted in the language's history). Usually, a combination of the three types of criteria is used, though one is more prevalent.

Semantics


In Alamblak
Alamblak language
The Alamblak language is spoken in the Angoram District of East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. According to , there are 9 villages with 900 speakers on the Middle Karawari and Wagupmeri rivers, and there is another dialect of 400 speakers in 4 villages near Kuvanmas Lake.-External links:*...

, a Sepik Hill language
Sepik Hill languages
The Sepik Hill languages are a family of northern Papua New Guinea identified by Dye et al. in 1968. A few years later, Donald Laycock included them in the Sepik languages. According to Malcolm Ross , they may include the Papi languages, formerly part of the Walio–Papi proposal....

 spoken in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

, the masculine gender includes males and things which are tall or long and slender, or narrow such as fish, crocodiles, long snakes, arrows, spears and tall, slender trees, while the feminine gender includes females and things which are short, squat or wide, such as turtles, frogs, houses, fighting shields, and trees that are typically more round and squat than others.

Sometimes, semantics prevails over the formal assignment of grammatical gender (agreement in sensu). In Polish, the nouns mężczyzna "man" and książę "prince" are masculine, even though words with the ending -a are normally feminine and words that end with are usually neuter. (See also Synesis
Synesis
Synesis is a traditional grammatical/rhetorical term derived from Greek...

). Interestingly, in Sicilian dialect the noun indicating the male sexual organ is feminine (a minchia), while the female sexual organ is masculine (u sticchiu). (This is true also in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, for the words mentula and cunnus, as used by Catullus
Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.-Biography:...

.)

Morphology


In Portuguese/Spanish, grammatical gender is most obviously noticeable by noun morphology
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

. Since nouns that refer to male persons usually end in -o or a consonant and nouns that refer to female persons usually end in -a, most other nouns that end in -o or a consonant are also treated as masculine, and most nouns that end in -a are treated as feminine, whatever their meaning. (Nouns that end in some other vowel are assigned a gender either according to etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

, by analogy, or by some other convention.) Morphology may in fact override meaning, in some cases. The noun membro/miembro "member" is always masculine, even when it refers to a woman, but pessoa/persona "person" is always feminine, even when it refers to a man. It would however be far more useful to consider that the grammatical gender of almost all nouns in the Romance languages is determined by etymology, that is to say that on the whole, the gender of a word in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian or French is the same as the gender of its cognate word in Latin with very few exceptions.

In German also, diminutives with the endings -chen and -lein (cognates of English -kin and -ling, meaning "little, young") are always neuter, which is why Mädchen "girl" and Fräulein "young woman" are neuter. Another ending, the nominalizing
Nominalization
In linguistics, nominalization or nominalisation is the use of a verb, an adjective, or an adverb as the head of a noun phrase, with or without morphological transformation...

 suffix -ling, can be used to make countable nouns
Count noun
In linguistics, a count noun is a common noun that can be modified by a numeral and that occurs in both singular and plural form, as well as co-occurring with quantificational determiners like every, each, several, etc. A mass noun has none of these properties...

 from uncountable nouns
Mass noun
In linguistics, a mass noun is a noun that refers to some entity as an undifferentiated unit rather than as something with discrete subsets. Non-count nouns are best identified by their syntactic properties, and especially in contrast with count nouns. The semantics of mass nouns are highly...

 (Teig "dough" → Teigling "piece of dough"), or personal nouns from abstract nouns (Lehre "teaching", Strafe "punishment" → Lehrling "apprentice", Sträfling "convict") or adjectives (feige "cowardly" → Feigling "coward"), always producing masculine nouns.

In Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

, nouns ending in -óir/-eoir and -ín are always masculine, while those ending -óg/-eog or -lann are always feminine.

In Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, gender can often be guessed from morphological clues. Nouns whose singular form ends in a tāʾ marbūṭa (traditionally t that becomes h in pausa
Pausa
In linguistics, pausa is the end of a prosodic unit, such as an utterance. Some sound laws specifically operate in pausa only; for example, certain phonemes may be pronounced differently at the end of a word, when no other word follows within the same prosodic unit, such as in citation form...

) is a marker of feminine gender, with the only significant exceptions being the word خليفة khalīfah (Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

) and certain masculine personal names (e.g. أسامة ʾUsāmah). Furthermore, gender may be understood on the basis of the stem of the word in question: for instance, the verbal nouns of Stem II (فعّل، يفعّل، التفعيل faʿʿala, yufaʿʿil, al-tafʿīl) are always masculine.

On the other hand, the correlation between grammatical gender and morphology is usually not perfect: problema "problem" is masculine in Spanish (this is for etymological reasons, as it was derived from a Greek noun of the neuter gender), and radio "radio station" is feminine (because it is a shortening of estación de radio, a phrase whose head is the feminine noun estación).

Lexicon


In some languages, gender markers have been so eroded by time that they are no longer recognizable, even to native speakers (this is generally known as deflexion
Deflexion (linguistics)
Deflexion is a linguistic process related to inflectional languages. All members of the Indo-European language family belong to these kinds of languages and are subject to some degree of deflexional change. The process is typified by the degeneration of the inflectional structure of a language...

). Most German nouns give no morphological or semantic clue as to their gender. It must simply be memorized. The conventional
Convention (norm)
A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms or criteria, often taking the form of a custom....

 aspect of grammatical gender is also clear when one considers that there is nothing objective about a table which makes it feminine, as French table, masculine as German Tisch, or neuter, as Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 bord. The learner of such languages should regard gender as an integral part of each noun. A frequent recommendation is to memorize a modifier along with the noun as a unit, usually a definite article, e.g. memorizing la table – where la is the French feminine singular definite article
Definite Article
Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzard's 1996 performance released on VHS. It was recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre...

 – der Tisch – where der is the German masculine singular nominative definite article – and bordet – where the suffix -et indicates the definite neuter singular in Norwegian. In French the noun's ending often indicates gender. As a very broad trend, nouns ending in -e tend to be feminine, while the rest tend to be masculine, but there are many exceptions; certain suffixes are quite reliable indicators though, such as the suffix -age, which when added to a verb (e.g. garer ("to park") -> garage; nettoyer ("to clean") -> nettoyage ("cleaning")), indicates a masculine noun; however, when -age is part of the root of the word, it can be feminine, as in plage ("beach") or image. On the other hand, nouns ending in "-tion" "-sion" and -aison are all feminine.

Whether a distant ancestor of French, German, Norwegian, and English had a semantic value for genders is of course a different matter. Some authors have speculated that archaic Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 had two noun classes with the semantic values of animate and inanimate.

Useful roles of grammatical gender


Ibrihim identified three possible useful roles of grammatical gender: (1) In a language with explicit inflections for gender, it is easy to express the natural gender of animate beings. (2) Grammatical gender "can be a valuable tool of disambiguation", rendering clarity about antecedents. (3) In literature, gender can be used to "animate and personify inanimate nouns."

Gender in English



While grammatical gender was a fully productive inflectional category in Old English, Modern English has a much less pervasive gender system, primarily based on natural gender.

There are a few traces of gender marking in Modern English:
  • Some loanword
    Loanword
    A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

    s inflect according to gender, such as actor/actress, where the suffix -or denotes the masculine, and the suffix -ress denotes the feminine.
  • The third person singular pronouns (and their possessive forms) are gender specific: "he/his" (masculine gender, overall used for males), "she/her(s)" (feminine gender, for females), "it/its" (neuter gender, mainly for objects and abstractions), "one/one's" (common gender, for anyone or anything).


But these are insignificant features compared to a typical language with grammatical gender:
  • English has no live productive
    Productivity (linguistics)
    In linguistics, productivity is the degree to which native speakers use a particular grammatical process, especially in word formation. Since use to produce novel structures is the clearest proof of usage of a grammatical process, the evidence most often appealed to as establishing productivity is...

     gender marker
    Marker (linguistics)
    In linguistics, a marker is a free or bound morpheme that indicates the grammatical function of the marked word, phrase, or sentence. In analytic languages and agglutinative languages, markers are generally easily distinguished. In fusional languages and polysynthetic languages, this is often not...

    s. An example is the suffix -ette (of French provenance), but it is seldom used, and mostly with disparaging or humorous intent.
  • The English nouns that inflect for gender are a very small minority, typically loanword
    Loanword
    A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

    s from non-Germanic languages (the suffix -ress in the word "actress", for instance, derives from Latin
    Latin
    Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

     -rix via French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

     -rice). Feminine forms of Latin-derived words may also use -rix, as in aviatrix.
  • The third-person singular forms of the personal pronouns
    English personal pronouns
    The personal pronouns in the English language can have various forms according to gender, number, person, and case. Modern English is a language with very little noun or adjective inflection, to the point where some authors describe it as analytic, but the Modern English system of personal pronouns...

     are the only modifiers
    Grammatical modifier
    In grammar, a modifier is an optional element in phrase structure or clause structure; the removal of the modifier typically doesn't affect the grammaticality of the sentence....

     that inflect according to gender.


It is also noteworthy that, with few exceptions, the gender of an English pronoun coincides with the real gender of its referent, rather than with the grammatical gender of its antecedent
Antecedent (grammar)
In grammar, an antecedent is a noun, noun phrase, or clause to which an anaphor refers in a coreference. For example, in the passage "I did not see John because he wasn't there", "John" is the antecedent of the anaphor "he"; together "John" and "he" are called a coreference because they both refer...

, frequently different from the former in languages with true grammatical gender. The choice between "he", "she" and "it" invariably comes down to whether they designate a male or female human or animal of a known sex, or something else.

Exceptions

  • Animals are generally referred to as it unless the gender is known. Some animals such as cattle
    Cattle
    Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

     and chicken
    Chicken
    The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

    s have different words for male and female animals (bull and cow, rooster and hen, for example) and he and she are therefore used correspondingly. The gender of other animals such as rabbit
    Rabbit
    Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

    s, insect
    Insect
    Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

    s, etc. is not usually obvious and so these animals are usually referred to as it except in some veterinarian or literary contexts. Alternatively, the use of "it" referring to an animal may imply the speaker lacks or disdains emotional connection with the animal. Thus, even though physical gender is undetermined, Rabbits for Dummies advises "You can win your bunny over to the point where he's incredibly comfortable with you."
  • The pronoun "she" is sometimes used to refer to things which can contain people, such as countries, ships, or vehicles, or when referring to certain other machines. This, however, is considered a stylistically marked, optional figure of speech
    Figure of speech
    A figure of speech is the use of a word or words diverging from its usual meaning. It can also be a special repetition, arrangement or omission of words with literal meaning, or a phrase with a specialized meaning not based on the literal meaning of the words in it, as in idiom, metaphor, simile,...

    , and may reflect a tendency of early translators to reflect grammatical gender in the original language. This theory is strengthened by the fact that in many classical and modern languages the word for e.g. "ship" (Hebrew אניה, Greek ἡ ναῦς, Latin navis, Spanish la nave, Czech loď) or "city" (Hebrew עיר, Greek ἡ πόλις, Latin vrbs, Sanskrit पुर्, Spanish la urbe, German die Stadt, Irish cathair) is in the feminine gender. This usage is furthermore in decline and advised against by most journalistic style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style
    The Chicago Manual of Style
    The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its 16 editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing...

    . If used, the terms she, her, and hers apply regardless of the entity's name – for example, "The U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) was laid down October 22, 1964. She was launched on April 1, 1967..."

Indo-European


Many Indo-European languages, though not English, provide archetypical examples of grammatical gender.

Research indicates that the earliest stages of Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 had two genders, animate and inanimate, as did Hittite
Hittite language
Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...

, but the animate gender (which, in contrast to the inanimate gender, has an independent accusative form) later split into masculine and feminine, originating the classical three-way classification into masculine, feminine, and neuter which most of its descendants inherited. Many Indo-European languages kept these three genders. Such is the case with most Slavic languages, classical Latin, Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, for instance. Other Indo-European languages reduced the number of genders to two, either by losing the neuter (like Urdu/Hindi, most Romance languages and the Celtic languages), or by having the feminine and the masculine merge with one another into a common gender (as has happened, or is in the process of happening, to several Germanic languages). Some, like English and Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

, have nearly completely lost grammatical gender, while Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

 have completely lost it. On the other hand, a few Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 have arguably added new genders to the classical three. In those ancient and modern Indo-European languages that preserve a system of noun declension (including Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Slavic, and some Germanic languages), there is a high but not absolute correlation between grammatical gender and declensional class. Many linguists also believe this to be true of the middle and late stages of Proto-Indo-European.

Exceptionally for a Romance language, Romanian
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

 has preserved the three genders of Latin, although the neuter has been reduced to a combination of the other two, in the sense that neuter nouns have masculine endings in the singular, but feminine endings in the plural. As a consequence, adjectives, pronouns, and pronominal adjectives only have two forms, both in the singular and in the plural. The same happens in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, to a lesser extent.

Some nouns have different genders in two different languages; for example, une équipe "a team" in French is feminine, while un equipo in Spanish is masculine.

Italian third-person singular pronouns have also a "neuter" form to refer to inanimate subjects (egli and ella vs. esso and essa). In fact, even in those languages where the original three genders have been mostly lost or reduced, there is sometimes a trace of them in a few words.
English
Gender in English
Gender in the English language has been the focus of two distinct contemporary debates. Mid-20th century academics raised questions about whether English rightly may be said to possess grammatical gender. Second wave feminism promoted general minimization of gender reference in language...

, personal pronoun
Personal pronoun
Personal pronouns are pronouns used as substitutes for proper or common nouns. All known languages contain personal pronouns.- English personal pronouns :English in common use today has seven personal pronouns:*first-person singular...

s: he, she, it
Spanish, definite article
Definite Article
Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzard's 1996 performance released on VHS. It was recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre...

s (words meaning "the"): el, la, lo
Spanish, demonstrative
Demonstrative
In linguistics, demonstratives are deictic words that indicate which entities a speaker refers to and distinguishes those entities from others...

s (words meaning "this, this one"): este, esta, esto
Portuguese, indefinite pronoun
Indefinite pronoun
An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that refers to one or more unspecified beings, objects, or places.-List of English indefinite pronouns:Note that many of these words can function as other parts of speech too, depending on context...

s (words meaning "all of him/her/it"): todo, toda, tudo

The Spanish neuter definite article lo, for example, is used with nouns that denote abstractions, e.g. lo único "the only thing"; lo mismo "the same thing". In Portuguese, a distinction is made between está todo molhado "he's all wet", está toda molhada "she's all wet", and está tudo molhado "it's all wet" (used for unspecified objects). In terms of agreement, however, these "neuter" words count as masculine: both Spanish lo mismo and Portuguese tudo take masculine adjectives. English modifiers do not generally inflect with gender.

In Venetian, only the demonstratives have a neuter form referring to abstractions, so a distinction is made between varda questo "look at this thing" (neuter), varda 'sto qua "look at this one" (masculine e.g. man, book, mobile) and varda 'sta qua "look at this one (feminine eg. woman, pen, hand); along the same line a distinction is made between l'è queło / queła "it's that thing/fact" (neuter), l'è qûeło là "it's that one" (masc.) and l'è qûeła là "it's that one" (fem.) where the û sound can be dropped only in the masculine and in the feminine which however take .

See Vulgar Latin: loss of neuter, and Gender in Dutch grammar
Gender in Dutch grammar
In the Dutch language, nouns have one of three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, or neuter. The gender of a word determines the articles used with it and the pronouns referring to it. Sometimes masculine and feminine nouns are collectively called de-words, whereas neuter nouns are called...

, for further information.

Other Indo-European languages that lack grammatical gender beside English are Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

, Bangla, Assamese
Assamese language
Assamese is the easternmost Indo-Aryan language. It is used mainly in the state of Assam in North-East India. It is also the official language of Assam. It is also spoken in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeast Indian states. Nagamese, an Assamese-based Creole language is widely used in...

, Oriya
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

, Khowar, and Kalasha, among others.

Australian Aboriginal languages


The Dyirbal language is well known for its system of four noun classes, which tend to be divided along the following semantic lines:
I – animate objects, men
II – women, water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

, fire
Fire
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition....

, violence
Violence
Violence is the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes. violence, while often a stand-alone issue, is often the culmination of other kinds of conflict, e.g...

III – edible fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 and vegetable
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

s
IV – miscellaneous (includes things not classifiable in the first three)


The class usually labeled "feminine", for instance, includes the word for fire and nouns relating to fire, as well as all dangerous creatures and phenomena. This inspired the title of George Lakoff
George Lakoff
George P. Lakoff is an American cognitive linguist and professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972...

's book Women, Fire and Dangerous Things (ISBN 0-226-46804-6).

Gurr-goni, an Australian Aboriginal language spoken in Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land
The Arnhem Land Region is one of the five regions of the Northern Territory of Australia. It is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around 500 km from the territory capital Darwin. The region has an area of 97,000 km² which also covers the area of Kakadu National...

, has the loanword erriplen (English aeroplane) in its noun class for edible vegetables. This confusion arose through some logical analogies: firstly, the gender of 'edible vegetables' must have been extended to other plants, and hence to all kinds of wooden things. Canoes are made of wood and so, logically, they came to be included in this class as well. The class was then widened to include modes of transport more generally and so, when the borrowed word erriplen first entered the language, it was assigned to the 'edible vegetable' gender. Each analogy made perfect sense in its own local domain, but the end result seems somewhat bizarre.

The Ngangikurrunggurr language
Ngangikurrunggurr language
Ngan’gikurunggurr is an Indigenous language spoken in the Daly River region of Australia’s Northern Territory. This language is often simply referred to as Ngan’gi , but is spoken in two distinctly named but mutually intelligible varieties called Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri...

 has noun classes reserved for canines, and hunting weapons, and the Anindilyakwa language has a separate noun class for things that reflect light. The Diyari language
Diyari language
Diyari or Dieri is an Australian Aboriginal language of South Australia spoken by the Diyari tribe.-Vowels:-Consonants:The voiced alveolar stop may have trilled release depending on dialect...

 distinguishes only between female and other objects. Perhaps the most noun classes in any Australian language are found in Yanyuwa
Yanyuwa language
The Yanyuwa language is spoken by the Yanyuwa people around the settlement of Borroloola in the Northern Territory, Australia....

, which has 16 noun classes.

Caucasian languages


Some members of the Northwest Caucasian
Northwest Caucasian languages
The Northwest Caucasian languages, also called Abkhazo-Adyghean, or sometimes Pontic as opposed to Caspian for the Northeast Caucasian languages, are a group of languages spoken in the Caucasus region, chiefly in Russia , the disputed territory of Abkhazia, and Turkey, with smaller communities...

 family, and almost all of the Northeast Caucasian languages
Northeast Caucasian languages
The Northeast Caucasian languages constitute a language family spoken in the Russian republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, northern Azerbaijan, and in northeastern Georgia, as well as in diaspora populations in Russia, Turkey, and the Middle East...

, manifest noun class. In the Northeast Caucasian family, only Lezgian, Udi
Udi language
The Udi language, spoken by the Udi people, is a member of the Lezgic branch of the Northeast Caucasian language family. It is believed an earlier form of it was the main language of Caucasian Albania, which stretched from south Dagestan to current day Azerbaijan.The language is spoken by about...

, and Aghul
Aghul language
Aghul, also spelled Agul, is a language spoken by the Aguls who live in southern Dagestan, Russia and in Azerbaijan. It is spoken by about 28,300 people .-Classification:...

 do not have noun classes. Some languages have only two classes, while the Bats language
Bats language
Bats is the language of the Bats people, a Caucasian minority group, and is part of the Nakh family of Caucasian languages. It had 2,500 to 3,000 speakers in 1975....

 has eight. The most widespread system, however, has four classes, for male, female, animate beings and certain objects, and finally a class for the remaining nouns. The Andi language
Andi language
The Andi language is part of the Avar–Andic branch of the Northeast Caucasian languages. The Andi population was about 8,000 in 1926. In 2002 approximately 21,800 speakers were identified. There are four dialects, Munin, Rikvani, Kvanxidatl, and Gagatl, which appear quite divergent. Speakers...

 has a noun class reserved for insects.

Among Northwest Caucasian languages, Abkhaz
Abkhaz language
Abkhaz is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken mainly by the Abkhaz people. It is the official language of Abkhazia where around 100,000 people speak it. Furthermore, it is spoken by thousands of members of the Abkhazian diaspora in Turkey, Georgia's autonomous republic of Adjara, Syria, Jordan...

 shows a masculine-feminine-neuter distinction. Ubykh
Ubykh language
Ubykh or Ubyx is an extinct language of the Northwestern Caucasian group, spoken by the Ubykh people...

 shows some inflections along the same lines, but only in some instances, and in some of these instances inflection for noun class is not even obligatory.

In all Caucasian languages that manifest class, it is not marked on the noun itself but on the dependent verbs, adjectives, pronouns and prepositions.

Niger–Congo languages


The Zande language
Zande language
Zande is an Ubangian language spoken by the Azande, primarily in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and western South Sudan, but also in the eastern part of the Central African Republic.-External links:****...

 distinguishes four noun classes:
CriterionExampleGloss
male human kumba man
female human dia wife
animate nya beast
other bambu house


There are about 80 inanimate nouns which are in the animate class, including nouns denoting heavenly objects (moon, rainbow), metal objects (hammer, ring), edible plants (sweet potato, pea), and non-metallic objects (whistle, ball). Many of the exceptions have a round shape, and some can be explained by the role they play in Zande mythology.

Basque


In Basque
Basque language
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

 there are two classes, animate and inanimate; however, the only difference is in the declension of locative cases (inessive, locative genitive, adlative, terminal adlative, ablative and directional ablative). There are a few words with both masculine and feminine forms, generally words for relatives (cousin: lehengusu (m)/lehengusina (f)) or words borrowed from Latin ("king": errege, from the Latin word regem; "queen": erregina, from reginam). In names for familiar relatives, where both genders are taken into account, either the words for each gender are put together ("son": seme; "daughter": alaba; "children"(meaning son(s) and daughter(s)): seme-alaba(k)) or there is a noun that includes both: "father": aita; "mother": ama; "father" (both genders): guraso.

Gender in words borrowed from one language by another


According to linguist Ghil'ad Zuckermann, "morphemic adaptations of English words into American Italian or British Italian often carry the linguistic gender of the semantically-similar word in Italian itself, e.g. British Italian
bagga ‘bag’
(feminine), induced by Italian
borsa ‘bag’ (feminine)."

Zuckermann argues that "Israeli" (his term for "Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

") demonstrates the same phenomenon. One of the examples he provides is the Israeli word for "brush":
mivréshet. He suggests that the choice of the feminine noun-template miXXéXet (each X represents a slot where a radical is inserted) was engendered by the (feminine) gender of the following words for "brush": Yiddish barsht (feminine), Polish szczotka (f), Russian shchëtka (f) (also kist’ (f) "painting brush"), German Bürste (f), French brosse (f) and Arabic mábrasha (f). Although the miXXéXet noun-template is used for instruments, there were many other possible suitable noun-templates, cf. *mavrésh and *mivrásh, both masculine.

Ibrihim identifies several processes by which a language assigns a gender to a newly borrowed word; these processes follow patterns by which even children, through their subconscious recognition of patterns, can often correctly predict a noun's gender. (1) If the noun is animate, natural gender tends to dictate grammatical gender. (2) The borrowed word tends to take the gender of the native word it replaces. (3) If the borrowed word happens to have a suffix that the borrowing language uses as a gender marker, the suffix tends to dictate gender. (4) If the borrowed word rhymes with one or more native words, the latter tend to dictate gender. (5) The default assignment is the borrowing language's unmarked gender. (6) Rarely, the word retains the gender it had in the donor language.

Auxiliary and constructed languages


Many constructed language
Constructed language
A planned or constructed language—known colloquially as a conlang—is a language whose phonology, grammar, and/or vocabulary has been consciously devised by an individual or group, instead of having evolved naturally...

s have natural gender systems similar to that of English. Animate nouns can have distinct forms reflecting natural gender, and personal pronouns are selected according to natural gender. There is no gender agreement on modifiers. The first three languages below fall into this category.
  • Esperanto
    Esperanto
    is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

     features the female infix -in-. While it differentiates a small number of male and female nouns such as patro (father) and patrino (mother), most nouns are gender-neutral and the use of it is not necessary. For instance, hundo means either a male or female dog, virhundo means a male dog, and hundino means a female dog. The personal pronouns li (he) and ŝi (she) and their possessive forms lia (his) and ŝia (her) are used for male and female antecedents, while ĝi (it) and its possessive form ĝia (its) are used to refer to a non-personal antecedent, or as an epicene pronoun.
  • Ido has the masculine infix -ul and the feminine infix -in for animate beings. Both are optional and are used only if it is necessary to avoid ambiguity. Thus: kato "a cat", katulo "a male cat", katino "a female cat". There are third person singular and plural pronouns for all three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter, but also gender-free pronouns.
  • Interlingua
    Interlingua
    Interlingua is an international auxiliary language , developed between 1937 and 1951 by the International Auxiliary Language Association...

     has no grammatical gender. It indicates only natural gender, as in
    matre "mother" and patre "father". Interlingua speakers may use feminine endings. For example, -a may be used in place of -o in catto, producing catta "female cat". Professora may be used to denote a professor who is female, and actrice may be used to mean "actress". As in Ido, inflections marking gender are optional, although some gender-specific nouns such as femina, "woman", happen to end in -a or -o. Interlingua has feminine pronouns
    Interlingua grammar
    This article is an informal outline of the grammar of Interlingua, an international auxiliary language first publicized by IALA. It follows the usage of the original grammar text , which is accepted today but regarded as conservative....

    , and its general pronoun forms are also used as masculine pronouns.
  • The fictional Klingon language
    Klingon language
    The Klingon language is the constructed language spoken by the fictional Klingons in the Star Trek universe....

     has three classes: capable of speaking, body part and other.


See also Gender-neutrality in languages with grammatical gender: International auxiliary languages, and Gender-specific pronoun: Constructed languages.

Masculine and feminine

  • Albanian
    Albanian language
    Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

     The neuter has almost disappeared.
  • Akkadian
    Akkadian language
    Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

  • Ancient Egyptian
    Egyptian language
    Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

  • Amharic
  • Arabic
    Arabic language
    Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

     However, Arabic distinguishes masculine and feminine in the singular and the dual. In the plural it distinguishes between male humans, female humans and non-human plurals (including collectives of humans, such as "nation," "people," etc.); non-human plurals are treated as feminine singular regardless of their gender in the singular.
  • Aramaic
    Aramaic language
    Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

  • Breton
    Breton language
    Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

  • Catalan
    Catalan language
    Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

  • Coptic
    Coptic language
    Coptic or Coptic Egyptian is the current stage of the Egyptian language, a northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century. Egyptian began to be written using the Greek alphabet in the 1st century...

  • Cornish
    Cornish language
    Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language and a recognised minority language of the United Kingdom. Along with Welsh and Breton, it is directly descended from the ancient British language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate...

  • Corsican
    Corsican language
    Corsican is a Italo-Dalmatian Romance language spoken and written on the islands of Corsica and northern Sardinia . Corsican is the traditional native language of the Corsican people, and was long the vernacular language alongside the Italian, official language in Corsica until 1859, which was...

  • French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

  • Friulan
    Friulian language
    Friulan , is a Romance language belonging to the Rhaeto-Romance family, spoken in the Friuli region of northeastern Italy. Friulan has around 800,000 speakers, the vast majority of whom also speak Italian...

  • Galician
    Galician language
    Galician is a language of the Western Ibero-Romance branch, spoken in Galicia, an autonomous community located in northwestern Spain, where it is co-official with Castilian Spanish, as well as in border zones of the neighbouring territories of Asturias and Castile and León.Modern Galician and...

  • Hebrew
    Hebrew language
    Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

  • Hindi
    Hindi
    Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

  • Irish
    Irish language
    Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

  • Italian
    Italian language
    Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

     There is a trace of the neuter in some nouns and personal pronouns. E.g.: singular l'uovo, il dito; plural le uova, le dita ('the egg(s)', 'the finger(s)').
  • Ladin
  • Latvian
    Latvian language
    Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

  • Lithuanian
    Lithuanian language
    Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

     There is a neuter gender for adjectives with very limited usage and set of forms.
  • Maltese
    Maltese language
    Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

  • Manchu
    Manchu language
    Manchu is a Tungusic endangered language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchu, though now most Manchus speak Mandarin Chinese and there are fewer than 70 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of nearly 10 million ethnic Manchus...

     Used vowel harmony
    Vowel harmony
    Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

     in gender inflections.
  • Manx
    Manx language
    Manx , also known as Manx Gaelic, and as the Manks language, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, historically spoken by the Manx people. Only a small minority of the Island's population is fluent in the language, but a larger minority has some knowledge of it...

  • Occitan
  • Portuguese
    Portuguese language
    Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

     There is a trace of the neuter in the demonstratives and some indefinite pronouns.
  • Punjabi
    Punjabi language
    Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region . For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language...

  • Romani
    Romani language
    Romani or Romany, Gypsy or Gipsy is any of several languages of the Romani people. They are Indic, sometimes classified in the "Central" or "Northwestern" zone, and sometimes treated as a branch of their own....

  • Sardinian
    Sardinian language
    Sardinian is a Romance language spoken and written on most of the island of Sardinia . It is considered the most conservative of the Romance languages in terms of phonology and is noted for its Paleosardinian substratum....

  • Scottish Gaelic
    Scottish Gaelic language
    Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language native to Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus descends ultimately from Primitive Irish....

  • Sicilian
    Sicilian language
    Sicilian is a Romance language. Its dialects make up the Extreme-Southern Italian language group, which are spoken on the island of Sicily and its satellite islands; in southern and central Calabria ; in the southern parts of Apulia, the Salento ; and Campania, on the Italian mainland, where it is...

  • Spanish
    Spanish language
    Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

     There is a neuter of sorts, though generally expressed only with the definite article lo, used with nouns denoting abstract categories: lo bueno.
  • Tamazight (Berber)
    Berber languages
    The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

  • Urdu
  • Venetian
    Venetian language
    Venetian or Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by over two million people, mostly in the Veneto region of Italy, where of five million inhabitants almost all can understand it. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia...

  • Welsh
    Welsh language
    Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...


Common and neuter


(note that the common/neuter distinction is close to animate/inanimate)
  • Danish
    Danish language
    Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

  • Dutch
    Dutch language
    Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

     (The masculine and the feminine have merged into a common gender in standard Dutch, but a distinction is still made by many when using pronouns, and in Southern-Dutch varieties. See Gender in Dutch grammar
    Gender in Dutch grammar
    In the Dutch language, nouns have one of three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, or neuter. The gender of a word determines the articles used with it and the pronouns referring to it. Sometimes masculine and feminine nouns are collectively called de-words, whereas neuter nouns are called...

    .)
  • Low German
    Low German
    Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

  • Norwegian
    Norwegian language
    Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

     (In the dialect of Bergen
    Bergen
    Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

    , elsewhere three genders.)
  • Swedish
    Swedish language
    Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

     The distinction between masculine and feminine still exists for people and some animals. Some dialects retain all three genders for all nouns.
  • Hittite language
    Hittite language
    Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...


Animate and inanimate

  • Basque
    Basque language
    Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

     (two different paradigms of noun declension are used, although adjectives and demonstratives do not show gender)
  • Elamite
    Elamite language
    Elamite is an extinct language spoken by the ancient Elamites. Elamite was the primary language in present day Iran from 2800–550 BCE. The last written records in Elamite appear about the time of the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great....

  • Hittite
    Hittite language
    Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...

  • Many Native American languages
    Indigenous languages of the Americas
    Indigenous languages of the Americas are spoken by indigenous peoples from Alaska and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses which constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families as well as many language...

    , including most languages of the Algic
    Algic languages
    The Algic languages are an indigenous language family of North America. Most Algic languages belong to the Algonquian family, dispersed over a broad area from the Rocky Mountains to Atlantic Canada...

    , Siouan
    Siouan languages
    The Western Siouan languages, also called Siouan proper or simply Siouan, are a Native American language family of North America, and the second largest indigenous language family in North America, after Algonquian...

     and Uto-Aztecan
    Uto-Aztecan languages
    Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a Native American language family consisting of over 30 languages. Uto-Aztecan languages are found from the Great Basin of the Western United States , through western, central and southern Mexico Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a Native American language family...

     language families
    Language family
    A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

    , as well as isolates such as Mapudungun
    Mapudungun
    The Mapuche language, Mapudungun is a language isolate spoken in south-central Chile and west central Argentina by the Mapuche people. It is also spelled Mapuzugun and sometimes called Mapudungu or Araucanian...

  • Russian
    Russian language
    Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

    . Note that 3 genders present there as well.
  • Sumerian
    Sumerian language
    Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...



In many such languages, what is commonly termed "animacy" may in fact be more accurately described as a distinction between human and non-human, rational and irrational, "socially active" and "socially passive" etc..

Masculine, feminine, and neuter

  • Asturian
    Asturian language
    Asturian is a Romance language of the West Iberian group, Astur-Leonese Subgroup, spoken in the Spanish Region of Asturias by the Asturian people...

  • Belarusian
    Belarusian language
    The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

  • Bulgarian
    Bulgarian language
    Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

  • Dutch
    Dutch language
    Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

     The masculine and the feminine have merged into a common gender in standard Dutch, but a distinction is still made by many when using pronouns. In South-Dutch (Flemish) spoken language all articles, possessives and demonstratives differentiate between masculine and feminine: see gender in Dutch grammar
    Gender in Dutch grammar
    In the Dutch language, nouns have one of three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, or neuter. The gender of a word determines the articles used with it and the pronouns referring to it. Sometimes masculine and feminine nouns are collectively called de-words, whereas neuter nouns are called...

    .
  • Faroese
    Faroese language
    Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

  • Gaulish
    Gaulish language
    The Gaulish language is an extinct Celtic language that was spoken by the Gauls, a people who inhabited the region known as Gaul from the Iron Age through the Roman period...

  • German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

  • Greek
    Greek language
    Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

     In the Attic dialect
    Attic Greek
    Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

     of Ancient Greek, neuter plurals are treated like singulars in verbal agreement.
  • Gujarati
    Gujarati language
    Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language, and part of the greater Indo-European language family. It is derived from a language called Old Gujarati which is the ancestor language of the modern Gujarati and Rajasthani languages...

  • Icelandic
    Icelandic language
    Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

  • Kannada
    Kannada language
    Kannada or , is a language spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas and number roughly 50 million, is one of the 30 most spoken languages in the world...

  • Latin
    Latin
    Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

  • Macedonian
    Macedonian language
    Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

  • Marathi
    Marathi language
    Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

  • Norwegian
    Norwegian language
    Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

     The three-gender system is widely used throughout the country, except in the Bergen
    Bergen
    Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

     dialect (some sociolects in Oslo
    Oslo
    Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

     also lacks it), where the dialect allows feminine nouns to be given the corresponding masculine inflections or do not use the feminine gender at all.
  • Old English
    Old English language
    Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

  • Old Irish
    Old Irish language
    Old Irish is the name given to the oldest form of the Goidelic languages for which extensive written texts are extant. It was used from the 6th to the 10th centuries, by which time it had developed into Middle Irish....

  • Old Persian
  • Old Prussian
    Old Prussian language
    Prussian is an extinct Baltic language, once spoken by the inhabitants of the original territory of Prussia in an area of what later became East Prussia and eastern parts of...

  • Romanian
    Romanian language
    Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

     The neuter gender (called neutru or sometimes ambigen in Romanian) has no separate forms of its own; neuter nouns behave like masculine nouns in the singular, and feminine in the plural. This behavior is seen in the form of agreeing adjectives and replacing pronouns. See Romanian nouns
    Romanian nouns
    This article on Romanian nouns is related to the Romanian grammar and belongs to a series of articles on the Romanian language. It describes the morphology of the noun in this language, and includes details about its declension according to number, case, and application of the definite article, all...

    .
  • Russian
    Russian language
    Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

     *
  • Sanskrit
  • Serbo-Croatian
    Serbo-Croatian
    Serbo-Croatian or Serbo-Croat, less commonly Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian , is a South Slavic language with multiple standards and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro...

     *
  • Slovene *
  • Sorbian
  • Swedish
    Swedish language
    Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

     As in Dutch, the masculine and the feminine have merged into a common gender in standard Swedish. But many dialects, mainly in Dalecarlia, Ostrobothnia
    Ostrobothnia (region)
    Ostrobothnia is a region of Finland. It is located in Western Finland. It borders the regions Central Ostrobothnia, Southern Ostrobothnia, and Satakunta and is one of the four regions making up the historical province of Ostrobothnia....

     (Finland) and northern Sweden, have preserved three genders in spoken language.
  • Telugu
    Telugu language
    Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

  • Ukrainian
    Ukrainian language
    Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

     *
  • Yiddish
    Yiddish language
    Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

  • Zazaki
    Zazaki
    Zazaki is an Indo-European language spoken primarily in eastern Turkey. According to Ethnologue, the language is a part of the northwestern group of the Iranian section of the Indo-European family. Zazaki shares many features, structures, and vocabulary with Gorani, Talyshi and other Caspian...



Note. In Slavic languages marked with an asterisk (*), traditionally only masculine, feminine and neuter genders are recognized, with animacy as a separate category for the masculine; the actual situation is similar to Czech and other Slavic languages, so they may be analyzed as four-gender languages as well.

More than three grammatical genders

  • Czech
    Czech language
    Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

     and Slovak
    Slovak language
    Slovak , is an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages .Slovak is the official language of Slovakia, where it is spoken by 5 million people...

    : Masculine animate, Masculine inanimate, Feminine, Neuter (traditionally, only masculine, feminine and neuter genders are recognized, with animacy as a separate category for the masculine).
  • Polish
    Polish language
    Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

    : Masculine animate, Masculine inanimate, Masculine personal, Feminine, Neuter (traditionally, only masculine, feminine and neuter genders are recognized, with animacy as a separate category for the masculine).
  • Dyirbal
    Dyirbal language
    Dyirbal is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken in northeast Queensland by about 5 speakers of the Dyirbal tribe. It is a member of the small Dyirbalic branch of the Pama–Nyungan family...

    : Masculine, feminine, vegetal and other. (Some linguists do not regard the noun class system of this language as grammatical gender.)
  • Ganda: ten classes called simply Class I to Class X and containing all sorts of arbitrary groupings but often characterised as people, long objects, animals, miscellaneous objects, large objects and liquids, small objects, languages, pejoratives, infinitives, mass nouns
  • Swahili
    Swahili language
    Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

    : 18 noun classes
  • Zande
    Zande language
    Zande is an Ubangian language spoken by the Azande, primarily in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and western South Sudan, but also in the eastern part of the Central African Republic.-External links:****...

    : Masculine, feminine, animate, and inanimate.
  • Russian
    Russian language
    Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

    : Masculine, Feminine, Neuter, Common (dual concord model), Reciprocal (one concord model).

Influence on culture


According to research by Lera Boroditsky
Lera Boroditsky
Lera Boroditsky is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and Editor in Chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology. Professor Boroditsky does research in cognitive science with a specific focus on cognitive linguistics. She studies language and cognition, specifically...

, grammatical genders are among the aspects of languages that shape how people think (a hypothesis called "linguistic relativity
Linguistic relativity
The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its speakers are able to conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view...

"). In one study by Boroditsky, in which native speakers of German and Spanish were asked to describe everyday objects in English, she found that they were more likely to use attributes conventionally associated with the genders of the objects in their native languages. For instance, German-speakers more often described a bridge (in , feminine) with words like "beautiful," "elegant," "fragile," "peaceful," "pretty," and "slender," whereas Spanish-speakers (for whom el puente is masculine) used terms like "big," "dangerous," "long," "strong," "sturdy," and "towering." Also according to Boroditsky, the gender in which concepts are anthropomorphized in art is dependent, in 85% of all cases, on the grammatical gender of the concept in the artist's language. Therefore, death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

 is generally portrayed as male in German art (der Tod, masculine), but as female in Russian art (Смерть, feminine).

Further examples of the presence and absence of grammatical gender

  • Gender-neutrality in languages with grammatical gender
    Gender-neutrality in languages with grammatical gender
    Gender neutrality in languages with grammatical gender implies promoting language usage which is balanced in its treatment of the genders. For example, advocates of gender-neutral language challenge the traditional use of masculine nouns and pronouns when referring to both genders or to a person...

  • Gender-neutrality in languages without grammatical gender
  • Gender-neutral pronoun
    Gender-neutral pronoun
    A gender-neutral pronoun is a pronoun that is not associated with any gender. It designates two distinct grammatical phenomena, the first being pronouns/periphrastics that have been assigned nontraditional meanings in modern times out of a concern for gender equity, and the second being genderless...


Related topics

  • Agreement (grammar)
  • Animacy
    Animacy
    Animacy is a grammatical and/or semantic category of nouns based on how sentient or alive the referent of the noun in a given taxonomic scheme is...

  • Declension
    Declension
    In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

  • Gender
    Gender
    Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

  • Inflection
    Inflection
    In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

  • Morphology (linguistics)
    Morphology (linguistics)
    In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...


Similar linguistic notions

  • Grammatical conjugation
    Grammatical conjugation
    In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection . Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, or other grammatical categories...

  • Grammatical number
    Grammatical number
    In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

  • Grammatical person
    Grammatical person
    Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns...

  • Noun class
    Noun class
    In linguistics, the term noun class refers to a system of categorizing nouns. A noun may belong to a given class because of characteristic features of its referent, such as sex, animacy, shape, but counting a given noun among nouns of such or another class is often clearly conventional...


Gender-inclusive language

  • Generic antecedents
  • Gender-neutral language in English
    Gender-neutral language in English
    Gender neutrality in English is a form of linguistic prescriptivism that aims at using a form of English that minimizes assumptions about the gender or biological sex of people referred to in speech.-Rationale:...

  • Gender-specific job title
    Gender-specific job title
    A gender-specific job title is a name of a job that also specifies or implies the gender of the person performing that job, such as stewardess...

  • Gender-specific pronoun
    Gender-specific pronoun
    A language has 'gender-specific pronouns' when personal pronouns have different forms according to the gender of their referents.The English language has three gender-specific pronouns in the 3rd. person singular, whose declined forms are also gender-specific: he , she , and it...


External links