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Gender issues (with nouns)

| 39 comments | Category: learning languages

genderMasculine or Feminine (or Neuter)?

This can be one of the most frustrating things for beginner to intermediate learners; the added information they have to learn of associating a gender with each word. Not only can it seem pointless to assign a gender to inanimate sexless objects (especially for native English speakers who aren’t used to this), but it can be confusing! Mark Twain amusingly put it (on German):

“A person’s mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers, nails, feet, and body are of the male sex, and his head is male or neuter according to the word selected to signify it, and not according to the sex of the individual who wears it! A person’s nose, lips, shoulders, breast, hands, and toes are of the female sex; and his hair, ears, eyes, chin, legs, knees, heart, and conscience haven’t any sex at all…

Now, by the above dissection, the reader will see that in Germany a man may think he is a man, but when he comes to look into the matter closely, he is bound to have his doubts; he finds that in sober truth he is a most ridiculous mixture; and if he ends by trying to comfort himself with the thought that he can at least depend on a third of this mess as being manly and masculine, the humiliating second thought will quickly remind him that in this respect he is no better off than any woman or cow in the land.”

How are you supposed to learn all of these seemingly random associations? And most importantly, why are languages so random in assigning gender? It almost seems like the “creator” of each language blind-folded himself, span around in circles to make himself dizzy and pointed at random objects with someone noting what sex to assign to them…

It had been suggested to me that I just simply learn the gender with each noun that I learn; sure(!) There are only anywhere up to a million words in a language – I’ll just imagine little girly dresses on keys or paper with bulging manly muscles. Or just learn the word with its article (el/la, le/la, der/die/das etc.) and repeat it over in your head thousands of times until it “sinks in”. I don’t think so.

I was struggling with this concept when I first started learning languages, but then something clicked for me (as it does for most other learners, and I hope this post helps beginner learners); it’s not the OBJECTS that have the gender, it’s the WORDS!

Words have gender, not objects

This realization makes a world of difference. The conceptual one is the most important one, since it’s confusing to talk about a male victim in Latin languages, but be obliged to assign feminine articles and adjectives. The word doesn’t care what gender the object it describes actually is. The word victim (la victima/victime in Spanish/French for example) is feminine. The word coche (in Spanish) is masculine and happens to describe a car.

This helps a lot in also figuring out why a word is a certain gender. If you try to imagine why an object is masculine or feminine you will need crazy jumps of logic indeed! But a word can easily be masculine or feminine and have nothing to do with actual sexual gender, or necessarily being “manly” or “girly”. These are just convenient titles for different categories, and may as well be yin and yang or positive and negative. Other than actually being associated with people of that gender (like father, sister, girlfriend), these gender associations are useless. Analysing parts of objects to find why they are manly or girly won’t help, but analysing parts of words to see patterns, will give you an indication of its grammatical “gender”.

Word endings and categories are the key

Rather than associating each gender with each word, we save ourselves a lot of time if we focus on the patterns. Every language I’ve studied has these patterns, and they are not that complicated. At worst, there is a list of a few dozen simple guidelines to follow, but once you learn these and test yourself a few times they will stick.

The most obvious of these “guidelines” is word endings. In Spanish, Portuguese and Italian they make it quite easy for us; nearly all masculine words simply end in -o (the vast majority) and the rest in -ma (like problema), -ista and a short list of others. Feminine words tend to end in -a, once again, this is the majority. A few others that are feminine in Spanish include -sión, -ción, -dad, -tad, -tud (with corresponding similar endings in Portuguese and Italian). There are an extremely small handful of exceptions, like mano (mão in Portuguese) and radio, both feminine. When you look at it this way, categorising words based on their endings rather than their meanings, it doesn’t matter what the word actually means, you can still figure out its gender quite quickly.

There are plenty of words in those languages and even much more in French, that end in -e. These can go either way, but a lot of them are still covered by rules. In French you may have to go back a few extra letters; instead of just -e, does it end in -age or -isme, -ège, -ble, -ie etc.? Here is a pretty good list of French word endings (and their exceptions). Learning that list alone will cover a huge amount of words!

Unfortunately, not all words fit neatly into ending-categories. Another pattern is that some categories tend to be a particular gender. Words for machines, and especially concepts (-ness words in English, like happiness, freedom etc.) tend to be feminine. But this normally directly correlates to word endings too (-té in French, -dad in Spanish, -keit in German, -ost in Czech, etc.).

Rather than learning each word’s gender, you are better learning these endings and then learning the few exceptions to them. A good grammar book will categorise these for you, and otherwise you can probably find out good non-exhaustive guides for your particular studied language just by Googling it! Learning these lists of word-endings is so much less work! When I was learning Czech a few months ago, despite the fact that it has three genders and that nearly all words don’t resemble anything like what I’ve seen before, it was laughingly easy and extremely little work to learn noun genders – they almost always followed extremely consistent rules.

On a side note I can say that I learned French genders extremely quickly. If you plan on learning several languages, then when dealing with languages of the same family (Latin languages in my case) their genders are actually the same! This has extremely few exceptions (like la minute (fr) vs el minuto (es)). Thanks to putting all the work into Spanish, I actually ask myself what the gender in Spanish is and that usually works in French if the word happens to be the same. :)

If you don’t know, guess!

If you know all your word endings and you still don’t know what gender a word is, just guess! Statistically speaking, most languages tend to favour masculine as a gender (sexist, I know), especially when it doesn’t fit well-known word ending patterns. If you are wrong, then so what? In the early stages, communication is extremely important, and as long as you are improving with time and making less and less mistakes, then it’s actually ok to use the wrong article/adjective for that word. Speakers will understand you, and communication is the reason you are learning this language! If not knowing a word’s gender is holding you back from saying it, just say it anyway! You can try your luck, and if you are wrong, someone will correct you (or you can look it up later to check) and you will have learned something :)

Remember that speaking a language is not always a test that you have to be 100% right in. Even if you are not that confident in genders, just say the word with whatever gender feels right (for the word not the object)! I strongly disagree with those who have told me that you should “wait until you’re ready” and not ever practise in the early stages and make mistakes (for fear of them “sticking”). That’s ridiculous, and you will never ever be ready with that kind of perfectionist attitude. I needed to make thousands of mistakes to get where I am today, and I will make thousands more as I continue learning languages. It’s just part of the game :)

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What’s your view on grammatical gender? Any other tips that you can add to this? As always, I love hearing from you, so do drop me a comment :)

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  • http://www.anthonylauder.com/ SplogSplog

    Michel Thomas had some funny advice on this, which is essentially that if you cannot remember the gender for a particular word then just grunt a fuzzy gender word. For example, just the “l” in place of ‘le or la’ in French, and just the “n” in place of “un or une”.

    Of course it only works when speaking (and fails miserably when writing) but it is an amusing trick which (according to Michel Thomas) adds quiet an air of colloquial authenticity to your speech.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Interesting advice! I’ll admit that I am guilty of having used that method in the past :P However, in my current mission of speaking with no accent, mumbling is out of the question. Latinos especially love opening their mouths wide and very clearly saying every vowel….
      I used to love vowel starting words in Italian/French to help me avoid this issue entirely with a lovely wee L’:P
      You can get around the un/une problem when writing though. The magic number “1″ – even more effective in MSN where textese is expected :P Can be used an a very good cop-out because it’s right! (In English this isn’t the case with a/one being quite different)

  • http://www.anthonylauder.com/ SplogSplog

    Michel Thomas had some funny advice on this, which is essentially that if you cannot remember the gender for a particular word then just grunt a fuzzy gender word. For example, just the “l” in place of ‘le or la’ in French, and just the “n” in place of “un or une”.

    Of course it only works when speaking (and fails miserably when writing) but it is an amusing trick which (according to Michel Thomas) adds quiet an air of colloquial authenticity to your speech.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Interesting advice! I’ll admit that I am guilty of having used that method in the past :P However, in my current mission of speaking with no accent, mumbling is out of the question. Latinos especially love opening their mouths wide and very clearly saying every vowel….
      I used to love vowel starting words in Italian/French to help me avoid this issue entirely with a lovely wee L’:P
      You can get around the un/une problem when writing though. The magic number “1″ – even more effective in MSN where textese is expected :P Can be used an a very good cop-out because it’s right! (In English this isn’t the case with a/one being quite different)

  • Elthyra

    Then you have very very confusing words like “amour” which are masculine in the singular form and feminine in the plural form. Even English isn’t without its crazy exceptions: I’ve never understood why ships were feminine.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Why ships are feminine
      For most people ships will always be sexless like all other English nouns. If I see a ship (which I actually do right now) I would say that “it” is big and “it” is white etc.
      However, sailors have a different connection to the ship and the sea. They use more antiquated English, which a few centuries before Shakespeare’s time was actually much more like German and did indeed have genders. The ship and the sea were feminine and this is still reflected in current uses for people who work at sea.
      It is extended for those working affectionately with machines or other such things. If you are proud of your car you will say that “she’s a beaut”, and I’d even describe my laptop as “she”, but only informally and only in very particular and affectionate situations, in which I am actually personifying it a bit. This personification actually gives more logic to assigning “she”, but why it’s feminine is less clear, unless you associate it with old English (not possible for modern cars and computers). This is by no means necessary and “it” will always be correct.
      Hope that explanation makes sense!

  • Elthyra

    Then you have very very confusing words like “amour” which are masculine in the singular form and feminine in the plural form. Even English isn’t without its crazy exceptions: I’ve never understood why ships were feminine.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Why ships are feminine
      For most people ships will always be sexless like all other English nouns. If I see a ship (which I actually do right now) I would say that “it” is big and “it” is white etc.
      However, sailors have a different connection to the ship and the sea. They use more antiquated English, which a few centuries before Shakespeare’s time was actually much more like German and did indeed have genders. The ship and the sea were feminine and this is still reflected in current uses for people who work at sea.
      It is extended for those working affectionately with machines or other such things. If you are proud of your car you will say that “she’s a beaut”, and I’d even describe my laptop as “she”, but only informally and only in very particular and affectionate situations, in which I am actually personifying it a bit. This personification actually gives more logic to assigning “she”, but why it’s feminine is less clear, unless you associate it with old English (not possible for modern cars and computers). This is by no means necessary and “it” will always be correct.
      Hope that explanation makes sense!

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ balint

    Good tips, but I still think that if you get massive input, then you don’t have to think about the gender of the word – you’ve heard it so many times that you don’t need to stop and think.

    Honestly, when you are speaking, how often do you stop and think: “hmm, is this word masculine? Or could be femenine, hmmm”.

    I agree that these tricks you mentioned can be useful at the early stage, but simply just cannot be applied in real life situation in the heat of the conversation. But thanks, anyway! :D
    .-= balint´s last blog ..Hogy ne felejtsünk el a megtanultakat – I. rész =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Thanks for your stimulating comment as always Bailint! As you know, I am definitely not a fan of the pure-input method ;) I would rather study the rules (for an entire half an hour (!!!)), then actually speak with people and get it wrong once and then never get it wrong again after being corrected. The whole point is that I don’t stop and ponder, I just speak. Once you learn the rules, and apply them a couple of times it does become natural and you can even abandon the rules themselves. The pure input method may require a lot of repetition and it has no emotional value in it (the embarrassment of using the word wrong in the field is huge motivation for me to remember the right way permanently).
      The pure input method starkly conflicts with my immersion method of two-way communication. Pure input may get the job done, but it is not at all compatible with a blog called “Fluent in 3 months“. I’m about efficiency and SPEED. Getting out there and making mistakes is the quickest way to fluency, and I still find the pure input method to be a good way for timid people to just avoid making mistakes, which is crucial to making progress and getting used to actually speaking the language quickly. I don’t doubt that hearing it thousands of times will help it sink in, but I’m much too impatient to listen to something thousands of times before it becoming part of my knowledge. Frankly, life is too short :P
      Then again I won’t be pushing this too much (with regards noun genders), this is a minor post with just a handy mentality adjustment for beginner learners I thought I should mention ;)
      I’m glad you are taking both my advice and the input method equally under consideration. I’m sure it gives you good perspective. However my experience tells me to avoid it and stick with communication as a means of improving my level; the whole purpose of learning languages in the first place! ;)

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu balint

    Good tips, but I still think that if you get massive input, then you don’t have to think about the gender of the word – you’ve heard it so many times that you don’t need to stop and think.

    Honestly, when you are speaking, how often do you stop and think: “hmm, is this word masculine? Or could be femenine, hmmm”.

    I agree that these tricks you mentioned can be useful at the early stage, but simply just cannot be applied in real life situation in the heat of the conversation. But thanks, anyway! :D
    .-= balint´s last blog ..Hogy ne felejtsünk el a megtanultakat – I. rész =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks for your stimulating comment as always Bailint! As you know, I am definitely not a fan of the pure-input method ;) I would rather study the rules (for an entire half an hour (!!!)), then actually speak with people and get it wrong once and then never get it wrong again after being corrected. The whole point is that I don’t stop and ponder, I just speak. Once you learn the rules, and apply them a couple of times it does become natural and you can even abandon the rules themselves. The pure input method may require a lot of repetition and it has no emotional value in it (the embarrassment of using the word wrong in the field is huge motivation for me to remember the right way permanently).
      The pure input method starkly conflicts with my immersion method of two-way communication. Pure input may get the job done, but it is not at all compatible with a blog called “Fluent in 3 months“. I’m about efficiency and SPEED. Getting out there and making mistakes is the quickest way to fluency, and I still find the pure input method to be a good way for timid people to just avoid making mistakes, which is crucial to making progress and getting used to actually speaking the language quickly. I don’t doubt that hearing it thousands of times will help it sink in, but I’m much too impatient to listen to something thousands of times before it becoming part of my knowledge. Frankly, life is too short :P
      Then again I won’t be pushing this too much (with regards noun genders), this is a minor post with just a handy mentality adjustment for beginner learners I thought I should mention ;)
      I’m glad you are taking both my advice and the input method equally under consideration. I’m sure it gives you good perspective. However my experience tells me to avoid it and stick with communication as a means of improving my level; the whole purpose of learning languages in the first place! ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    By the way, hope you like my new comment interface!! I know the other one let you edit posts afterwards, but this one is more social with other sites. Let me know what you think of it :)

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ Balint

    :D You're right, I got you wrong. :D This blog (and your methods) are about speed and efficiency. I, personally, don't find it boring to listen/watch/read things many times and I agree that knowing the rules can't hurt. Sometimes I flick through grammar books, just to reinforce my knowledge. To be honest, I don't think that one should choose only one method and stick with it. I enjoy experiencing with new approaches, and that is why I usually take your advise, knowing that you are an experienced person in the language learning field. But I also think that combining different techniques from different experienced language learners could be the best way to go. :D

    By the way: genders. I took your advice about word memorization, and when I meet a new word in Spanish I want to memorize, I make up a story in my mind and if it the word is masculine, I imagine that the weather is bad, and if it is feminine, the weather is nice and warm, therefore link the gender to the weather of the environment of the memory. :D Works for me. :D

    PS: Nice design!

  • splogsplog

    I agree that making mistakes IN PUBLIC is vital. Whenever I have made mistakes when studying on my own or with close friends, I might notice them, but rarely learn from them. However, make a mistake in public, and have it pointed out – well, the embarrassment shocks my brain into never making that mistake again.

  • Geoff

    Thanks for the tips on gender Ben. I look forward to trying that when I learn my next language. You’re right in thinking that a lot of the learning that is necessary when taking on a new language can be hindered by HOW you think about the language and the best way of learning it rather than the flesh and bones of the language itself. You’ve helped me to start meta-thinking, but was wondering if you had any tips on coming to understand the way that different cases are used in languages. Like Terry above, I’m learning a Finno-Ugric language (Estonian in my case) and the use of cases such as genitive and partitive is reasonably foreign to my English speaking brain (apart of course from the use of genitive to denote ownership eg. Ben’s blog) . There are rules about this of course, and perhaps my Estonian course hasn’t delved into this topic deeply enough yet, but I just wondered if you had experience with this and how you got it sorted out in your own speedy fashion.

  • Geoff

    Thanks for the tips on gender Ben. I look forward to trying that when I learn my next language. You’re right in thinking that a lot of the learning that is necessary when taking on a new language can be hindered by HOW you think about the language and the best way of learning it rather than the flesh and bones of the language itself. You’ve helped me to start meta-thinking, but was wondering if you had any tips on coming to understand the way that different cases are used in languages. Like Terry above, I’m learning a Finno-Ugric language (Estonian in my case) and the use of cases such as genitive and partitive is reasonably foreign to my English speaking brain (apart of course from the use of genitive to denote ownership eg. Ben’s blog) . There are rules about this of course, and perhaps my Estonian course hasn’t delved into this topic deeply enough yet, but I just wondered if you had experience with this and how you got it sorted out in your own speedy fashion.

  • Terry Selder

    In Spanish, the appropriate article mostly comes naturally, I think. Especially if you learn the words with adjectives. I love the repeating vowels in for example “vuestra hermana bonita”. I am fluent in Danish (I am Dutchman, living in Denmark), and I haven't experienced the word gender as a problem either. I think that is because the definite article is used as an affix. For example:
    Hus = house. Huset = The house. Mand = man. Manden = The man.
    It becomes part of the word in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.

    Now I am learning Finnish, I don't have to deal with articles and word genders, as Finnish doesn't have them. Even hän can mean both he or she. But all that hardly makes Finnish more accessible! ;) Without grammar, you are getting nowhere, as a simple mistake can change the meaning of the sentence because of the absence of prepositions and the presence of 14 cases.

    Good luck with your project, Benny!

    Best wishes from a fellow non-drinker!

    Terry

  • troy

    It's unfortunate that this concept is called “gender”…there'd be so much less frustration if it were just called “type-1″ and “type-2″ words or something. Then you wouldn't feel weird that bridges are “feminine” (ponte) and combs are “masculine” (pente).

    I once met a guy that had an interesting take on genders. I was complaining about how the gender adds no information content, so why have it at all? But he responded in true geek fashion–they DO have information content: suppose you're talking on a noisy phone line and hear “blah blah O P-???-NTE blah blah” Were they talking about a comb or a bridge? Well, if you hear the “o” you know they are talking about a comb!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    In engineering we call that redundancy – it's handy when any electronic device (computer, mobile phone, etc.) needs to send information, it repeats certain segments so that if any of it is damaged along the way the actual information itself is still intact. Being a geek myself, I agree with your friend's analysis :D I find English to be lacking when we say “friend” or “cousin” and it's not clear what gender that person is; other languages have more core information in sentences. I quite like it that way :D

  • troy

    Or in my field “error correcting codes” :) It's a cute (geeky) idea, but I'm not sure how much water the argument holds in reality….in what conversation would you confuse a bridge with a comb?!

    I actually like the ambiguity of “friend” in English. You can be quite coy about your plans by saying “I'm going out with a friend” and no one will know if it is a date or not!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Precisely why I don't like “friend”. I want to know if they are going out on a date, or if the cousin they are going to introduce me to is female so I can potentially ask her out :P

  • ALicia

    I love the pic. ;)

  • Rick Standton

    Agreed.

    Telling a director in public in Spanish that I was very aroused by the next project has made me never forget the difference between “excitado” and “emocionado.”

  • http://www.reflexarium.com/ Sean Rasmussen

    If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, I can suggest an inexpensive app
    that I've recently made; it helps you 'internalize' the 'rules' of identifying the gender of 95% of french nouns.

    http://www.reflexarium.com

    Regards,
    Sean

  • http://learnspanishfastcourse.com/ Jay

    Yes, and like you already mentioned, words from the same language family (eg romance languages, german languages, slavic languages) tend to have the same “root” and the same gender as well.

    So once you know the gender in french, you can apply it to spanish/italian, … most of the time.

  • http://learnspanishfastcourse.com/ Jay

    Yes, and like you already mentioned, words from the same language family (eg romance languages, german languages, slavic languages) tend to have the same “root” and the same gender as well.

    So once you know the gender in french, you can apply it to spanish/italian, … most of the time.

  • Puneet

    Bwnny, and tips for recognizing gender in German?

  • Josephine

    Hi Benny, I have just read your article on genders. You have encouraged me greatly — I mean, I can recognise a Spanish gender by reading/writing it, but I had my first conversation with a native online friend just yesterday, and I got everything muddled up! It was so embarrassing! However, she was really kind about it and so patient with me, so I guess it wasn't too bad.

    I guess I just wanted to share that anecdote :)

  • http://twitter.com/HowtoLearnSwe Scott Hammond

    This beat me and discouraged me from learning French at school, that along with the everything being “backwards” too.

    I’m trying not to let the same thing defeat me again as I try to learn Swedish

  • http://twitter.com/HowtoLearnSwe Scott Hammond

    This beat me and discouraged me from learning French at school, that along with the everything being “backwards” too.

    I’m trying not to let the same thing defeat me again as I try to learn Swedish

  • http://twitter.com/HowtoLearnSwe Scott Hammond

    This beat me and discouraged me from learning French at school, that along with the everything being “backwards” too.

    I’m trying not to let the same thing defeat me again as I try to learn Swedish

  • http://twitter.com/HowtoLearnSwe Scott Hammond

    This beat me and discouraged me from learning French at school, that along with the everything being “backwards” too.

    I’m trying not to let the same thing defeat me again as I try to learn Swedish

  • http://twitter.com/HowtoLearnSwe Scott Hammond

    This beat me and discouraged me from learning French at school, that along with the everything being “backwards” too.

    I’m trying not to let the same thing defeat me again as I try to learn Swedish

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    *Regional* exceptions in gender of nouns are few and far between. They are so rare that prioritising such stickers for that reason is ridiculous

  • http://twitter.com/ColinLusk Colin Lusk

    I read this a few days ago and was reminded of it again when Lexicon Valley did a podcast episode about gendered nouns in language (the first in a short series on the subj). They’re pretty funny and make a lot of sense, so if you feel like learning more, you could do worse than ointing your ears in the direction of http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/lexicon_valley/2012/04/lexicon_valley_what_it_means_for_a_language_to_have_grammatical_gender_.html 

  • John

    I’ve read and heard a few interesting theories on why many languages have gender. Gender is remarkably persistent: it’s been in the Indo-European, Semitic, and Bantu language families for at least five thousand years. It must be doing something useful.

    A few possibilities:

    In a gendered language like Spanish, adjectives agree in number and gender with nouns: los toros poderosos ‘the powerful bulls’. This helps tie adjectives and nouns together, reducing the functional load on word order and adding useful clues for parsing.

    It gives language another dimension to seep into. In French, for instance, there are many words that vary only in gender: port/porte, fil/file, grain/graine, point/pointe, sort/sorte, etc. Changing gender must have once been an easy way to create a subtle variation on a word.

    It allows indefinite references to give someone’s sex.

    It can support free word order without case marking.

    It offers some of the advantages of obviative pronouns: one may have two or more third person pronouns at work at the same time, referring to different things. Imagine having two forms of ‘he’ to distinguish two different persons

    Interestingly enough, the Proto-Indo-European language had masculine and neuter, but not feminine, gender. Why it came later, well, no one can really say for sure. Just one of those peculiarities that mak a languages so fun.

    • SFrankel

      Actually we can make some good guesses about proto Indo-European (PIE). The two genders are usually called “animate” and “inanimate,” but you’re right, the animate was the same form as the later masculine. The animate/inanimate system is found in the earliest IE lang. with extensive records, which is Hittite. Later, the animate split into masculine and feminine or, to put it a little better, the feminine arose out of the masculine.

      If you compare masculine and neuter in any of the IE languages that still have those genders, you’ll find that the difference is that masculine differentiates between nominative (subject of the sentence) and accusative (direct object), whereas the neuter does not. (Some daughter languages have a few other differences, such as animacy in Slavic, but these are later developments.)

      In other words, animate nouns took part in actions and inanimate nouns did not. Maybe animate nouns had spirits or souls or something like that. When the feminine split off, we get a three-way system: masculine nouns, which performed actions (man, sun, sword); feminine nouns, which received the results of actions (woman, moon, water); and neuter nouns, which didn’t take part in actions at all (rock, temple). Even English still shows this a little bit (he/him, she/her, but it/it).

      Anyway, the point of all of this is that it wasn’t just a peculiarity of grammar because the grammar reflected the way that they thought about things.

  • Alexa

    You are a lifesaver!! I can’t believe I never thought of this before. I just started learning German, and I’m already seeing the patterns after reading your post. Thanks a bunch!