Gnè    -    Gender


According to Form - Masculine

A noun is masculine when it ends in a certain suffix:

  • diminutive noun, -an - the a in -an is pronounced as [a]

    • am balachan


  • abstract noun, -as, -ad

    • an dànadas, an giorrad


  • noun of function, occupation or role, -ach, -iche, -air, -amh, -adair, -aire, -ear

    • an clèireach, an stiùiriche, an dorsair, am britheamh, am fuaradair, an teachdaire, an t-àrdaichear


  • an adjective used as a noun

    • an dall


  • verbal nouns, -adh

    • bualadh

According to Form - Feminine

A noun is feminine when it ends in a certain suffix:

  • diminutive noun, -ag - the a in -ag is pronounced as [a]

    • an nìghneag


  • abstract noun, -achd

    • a' bheannachd


  • noises ending in -ich (there are exceptions)

    • bha e a' bragadaich 's a' snagadaich
    • but: 'glaodhaich' is masculine


  • abstract noun identical to the comparative form of an adjective

    • an doille


  • verbal nouns, -airt

    • tachairt

According to Meaning - Masuline

There are exceptions to these rules. Use the rules according to form first.

  • the elements

    • an teine, an t-uisge


  • the seasons

    • an geamhradh


  • days of the week

    • Dimàirt


  • colours

    • an gorm


  • grains

    • an t-eòrna


  • vegetables

    • an curran


  • drinks

    • an t-uisge-beatha


  • wood

    • an giuthas

According to Meaning - Feminine

There are exceptions to these rules. Use the rules according to form first.

  • countries

    • an Fhraing


  • musical instruments

    • a' chlàrsach


  • celestial bodies

    • a' ghrian


  • illnesses

    • a' bhreac
    • but: 'an cnatan' is masculine

According to Sex

More often than not, the gender of a noun will correspond to the male/female sex of a human or an animal:

  • masculine:
    • an t-athair
    • am mac
    • am fear
    • am bodach
    • an tarbh


  • feminine:
    • a' mhàthair
    • an nighean
    • an tè
    • a' chailleach
    • a' bhò

  • but: 'am boireannach' is masculine

Broad or slender

You can look at the last consonant of the word. This rule of thumb works for about 80% of all nouns:
  • broad nouns are masculine
  • slender nouns are feminine

Mix-up

Sometimes, the gender of a word is not clear.

  • The same word can be masculine or feminine according to dialect

    • an dàimh (masculine or feminine), an dealbh (masculine or feminine)


  • The same word can have a different gender according to case (from the old neutral case)

    • am muir (nominative/common case, masculine), na mara (genitive/possessive case, feminine)

Memorising

How do you remember the case for a certain noun? I don't find 'an doras' (m) or 'an deise' (f) useful at all. I prefer using the genitive case with the article, and I'll add a verbal noun to it:

  • doras, fosgladh an dorais - an = masculine
  • deise, cruth na deise - na = feminine


This way, I even get 3 for 1:

  • the gender of the word
  • the genitive form of the word
  • a useful expression

Sources

  • Byrne, Michel (2004): Gràmar na Gàidhlig, 2nd edition, Stòrlann-acair, Cearsiadar.
  • Calder, George (1923): A Gaelic Grammar, Gairm, Glasgow.
  • Cox, Richard (2010): Class notes for Gàidhlig 2 at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
  • Klevenhaus, Michael (2010): Lehrbuch der Schottisch-Gälischen Sprache, Buske, Hamburg.

Rach gu duilleag: Air ais 1 2

An deasachadh mu dheireadh: 30mh dhen Fhaoilleach 2013 20:17:40