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Gender

word nouns masculine french

Gender, in grammar, the designation of nouns and nounlike words as belonging to distinct categories. (The word comes from genus, the Latin word for “kind.”) Many languages divide nouns into the 2 genders of animate and inanimate, but more common are the classifications masculine, feminine, and neuter. These three genders exist in Russian and German, there are remnants of them in English (“he”, “she”, and “it”.). Other languages—such as French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese—have only 2 genders, masculine and feminine. Nouns that refer to males and females are often assigned their “natural gender” (French, le fils, “son”, is masculine), but the gender of most nouns is independent of sexual class (French, une proposition, “suggestion”, is feminine; German, das Mädchen, “girl”, is neuter). Usually, gender depends on the spelling or derivation of the word. The spelling of a word's ending often indicates the gender. Many but not all languages classify words by gender.

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