Latin Grammar Unit 1 : Gender

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Gender in the Latin Language

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In English gender distinguishes between male, female and he, she, it. In Latin every noun is either masculine, feminine or neuter.

Words referring to males/male jobs are masculine. e.g father - pater  or  agricola - farmer  

Words referring to a female are feminine. e.g mater - mother  or  puella - girl

Words referring to intimate things are either masculine, feminine or neuter. e.g gladius - sword (m), villa - house (f), templum - temple (n).

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How can we tell the gender of a noun?

  • Declensions can give good indicators of gender
  • 1st declension nouns that end in -a are fem, unless they refer to a male thing or job
  • So ancilla, via, villa, cena, pecunia, victoria, etc are fem.
  • But nauta, agricola, poeta are masc.
  • All 2nd declension nouns ( ending in -us or -er) are masc*
  • some exceptions but they are rare
  • So servus, dominus, filius, gladius, hortus, puer, magister etc. are masc.
  • All 2nd declension nouns which in the nom.end in -um are neuter
  • So forum, cubiculum, templum, auxilium, consilium etc. are neuter
  • 3rd declension nouns can be masc, fem, or neuter - hard to indentify
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