Grammatical gender

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In linguistics, grammatical genders are a special type of noun classes where the gender of the subject is referenced by the structure of the word; every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be very few that belong to several classes at once.[1][2]

If a language distinguishes between gender, feminine, masculine, or in some instances neuter, then each noun will belong to one of those genders : in order to correctly decline any noun and any modifier or other type of word affecting that noun, one must identify the gender of the subject. The term grammatical gender is mostly used for Indo-European languages, many of which follow the pattern just described. While Old English (Anglo-Saxon) had grammatical gender, Modern English is normally described as lacking grammatical gender.[3]

The linguistic notion of grammatical gender is distinguished from the biological and social notion of natural gender, although they interact closely in many languages. Both grammatical and natural gender can have linguistic effects in a given language.

Although some authors use the term "noun class" as a synonym or an extension of "grammatical gender", for others they are separate concepts. One can in fact say that grammatical gender is a type of noun class, as well as a grammatical category.

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