Gender Nouns in English: Definition and Examples

By Team ABJ

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Gender nouns are words that specifically indicate whether the person being referred to is male or female. While this may seem like a small detail, the use of gendered nouns can have far-reaching implications for how we understand and interact with one another. In this post, we’ll explore the concept of gendered nouns in-depth i.e. what are gender nouns, its importance, types, examples, and formation in English.

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What is a gender noun?

In grammar, a gender noun is a noun that is classified as masculine, feminine, or neuter, based on the gender system of the language. In some contexts, the term “gender noun” may be used to refer to a noun that is associated with a particular gender or sex. For example, the words “mother,” “father,” “sister,” and “brother” are often considered gender nouns because they are typically used to refer to specific genders or sexes.

Why are gender nouns important?

Gender nouns are important in many languages because they are a fundamental part of the language’s grammar system.

Gender nouns can provide clarity and precision in communication, especially when it comes to people or animals. For example, in English, the words “he” and “she” are gendered pronouns that help distinguish between male and female individuals. Similarly, in languages with gendered nouns, using the appropriate gender noun can help ensure that the listener or reader understands exactly who or what is being referred to.

Types of Gender Nouns in English

The types of gender nouns can vary depending on the language and the gender system in use. Here are some common types of gender nouns:

1. Masculine Gender Nouns

Masculine gender nouns are nouns that are associated with the male gender. Here are some examples of masculine gender nouns:

Father

Brother

Uncle

Son

King

Prince

Man

Boy

Husband

Nephew

Actor

Barber

Bachelor

Sailor

Host

2. Feminine Gender Nouns

Feminine gender nouns are nouns that are associated with the female gender. Here are some examples of feminine gender nouns:

Mother

Sister

Aunt

Daughter

Queen

Princess

Woman

Girl

Wife

Niece

Actress

Stylist

Bride

Hostess

Waitress

3. Neuter Gender Nouns

Neuter gender nouns are nouns that are not associated with any particular gender or are considered genderless. Here are some examples of neuter gender nouns:

Book

Chair

House

Desk

Table

Car

Pen

Computer

Television

Rock

4. Common Gender Nouns

Common gender nouns are nouns that can be used to refer to either gender. Here are some examples of common gender nouns:

Teacher

Doctor

Student

Friend

Person

Cousin

Sibling

Partner

Manager

Lawyer

Gender nouns examples in sentences

Here are some sentences with examples of gender nouns:

The father took his son to the park. (“Father” is a masculine noun, and “son” is also masculine.)

The mother and daughter went shopping. (“Mother” and “daughter” are both feminine gender nouns.)

The teacher graded his students’ tests. (“Teacher” is a common gender noun, and “students” can refer to any gender.)

The doctor examined her patient. (“Doctor” is a common gender noun, and “patient” can refer to any gender.)

They are my friends. (“Friends” is a common gender noun)

The prince rode his horse to the castle. (“Prince” is a masculine noun)

The queen and her ladies-in-waiting attended the ball. (“Queen” is a feminine noun)

My niece is visiting me this weekend. (“Niece” is a feminine noun.)

The doctor gave his patient a prescription. (“Doctor” is a common gender noun, and “patient” can refer to any gender.)

Is it possible to change gender nouns in English grammar?

In English grammar, most nouns do not have inherent gender, so they cannot be changed from one gender to another. However, there are a few instances where the gender of a noun can be changed in English.

For example, some job titles have traditionally been associated with one gender or the other, but there is a growing trend to use gender-neutral language in these cases. For instance, instead of saying “fireman” or “policeman,” one can say “firefighter” or “police officer.” Similarly, instead of using “waitress,” one can use the gender-neutral term “server.”

Additionally, some names can be used for both males and females but may be spelled differently to indicate gender. For example, the name “Jordan” can be used for both males and females, but “Jordan” is typically used for males, while “Jordyn” or “Jordanne” is more commonly used for females.

How to change masculine nouns to feminine nouns?

To change a masculine noun to its feminine form, you can often add a suffix to the end of the word. Some common suffixes used to indicate the feminine form of a noun include:

1. -ess:

This suffix is often added to nouns referring to professions or roles, such as “actor” or “waiter,” to form the feminine equivalent. For example:

  • Actor (masculine) –> Actress (feminine)
  • Host (masculine) –> Hostess (feminine)
  • Waiter (masculine) –> Waitress (feminine)

2. -ine:

This suffix is often used to form feminine nouns that refer to things that are traditionally associated with women, such as “heroine” or “feminine.” For example:

  • Hero (masculine) –> Heroine (feminine)
  • Masculine (masculine) –> Feminine (feminine)

3. -ette:

This suffix is often added to nouns to indicate a smaller version of something. For example:

Cigar → Cigarette

Statue → Statuette

Usher → Usherette

Drummer → Drumette

FAQs

What is a gender noun?

A gender noun is a noun that denotes a specific gender. For example, “actor” is a gender-neutral noun, while “actress” is a gender-specific noun that refers to a female actor.

How many gender nouns are there?

The number of gender nouns depends on the language being used. Some languages, like English, have a limited number of gender-specific nouns, while others, like Spanish or French, have a much higher number of gender-specific nouns.

Why are there gender nouns in some languages?

Gender nouns are a feature of many languages, and they serve a variety of purposes. They can help to distinguish between male and female individuals, and they can also be used to convey social or cultural values and expectations.

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