English Grammar

Gender of English Nouns and Determination with Illustration

The Gender of English nouns

the gender of English nouns cannot be determined by the end of a word. Often it can only be identified by lexical meaning or context.in English, the masculine or feminine gender has only nouns denoting living beings. Gender of English Nouns and Determination

Nouns that can express both masculine and feminine have a common gender.

For example parent – parent, child – child, friend – friend, servant – servant, thief – thief, enemy – enemy, teacher-teacher, writer – writer, etc.

Nouns that do not express either the male or female gender (ie inanimate nouns) are neuter. For example book – book, pen – pen, room – room, house – house, tree – tree, etc. However, it should be borne in mind that sometimes inanimate objects can be perceived as animate. In this case, they also take masculine or feminine gender.

1-The masculine Gender

The names of animate beings of the male sex: man-boy – uncle – bachelor – bull


The names of female animate beings: woman – girl – aunt – bride  -hen


The names of inanimate objects and animals of unknown sex: television – lamp – lantern – sparrow

Determination of Gender

1-Only sometimes the feminine gender can be determined by several suffixes

-ine: heroine – heroine -ette: usherette – ticket collector -ess: tigress, hostess – tigress, mistress

2-Also, sometimes gender can be indicated by adding words such as

he / she, hen / cock, male / female, dog / bitch, boy / girl to the noun: woman-writer – writer she-wolf – wolf A cock-turkey – turkey

3-Some inanimate nouns are traditionally associated with a particular gender. This phenomenon is most often found in fiction and poetry.

  • Masculine: Sun, wind, fear, love.
  • Feminine: Earth, Moon, ship, boat, car, hope, justice, modesty, peace.

4-In addition, the names of some countries belong to the feminine gender:

I grew up in England. She will always remain in my memory.

  • Exceptions are the names of countries with a common noun base,

For example:

The United States of America – United States of America, USA

Formation of Feminine/Gender nouns in English

1-Using the appropriate feminine word:

  • boy – girl
  • man – woman
  • husband – wife
  • father – mother
  • brother – sister
  • son – daughter
  • horse – mare
  • monk – nun
  • king – queen
  • cock – hen
  • drake – duck
  • gentleman – lady
  • nephew – niece
  • uncle – aunt

2. By adding the appropriate suffix ( -ess , -ine , -trix , etc.) to the masculine noun:

  • author – authoress
  •  baron – baroness
  •  count – countess
  • giant – giantess
  •  heir – heiress
  • host – hostess
  • lion – lioness
  • poet – poetess

3-The following feminine nouns are formed by replacing the suffix ( -or, -er, etc.) in the masculine noun with the corresponding feminine suffix:

  • actor – actress
  •  enchanter – enchantress
  •  duke – duchess
  •  emperor – empress
  • prince – princess
  • tiger – tigress
  • waiter – waitress
  • master – mistress  Gender of English Nouns and Determination
  • sorcerer – sorceress

4- Replacing the masculine noun with the corresponding feminine noun (in compound nouns):

  • grandfather – grandmother
  •  manservant – maid servant
  • landlord – landlady
  • peacock – peahen
  • salesman – saleswoman

5- An easy way to express the natural gender is to add ‘boy,’ ‘girl’ to the beginning of the word or by attaching ‘man’ and ‘woman’ to the end. Nevertheless, not many words offer this possibility:

Masculine forms (he)Feminine forms (she)

6-The suffix -ess is the commonest suffix used to form feminine nouns, from the masculine, and is the only one that we now use in forming a new feminine noun.

  • Hero   heroine
  • Sultan  sultana
  • Fox  vixen

Gender of English Nouns and Determination

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