General Question

janbb's avatar

Do inanimate objects have gender in Italian and Spanish as they do in French?

Asked by janbb (55868points) 1 week ago

A friend was saying they do and I never thought that. I thought assigning masculine or feminine gender to objects and animal breeds was only a French thing. Anyone know?

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10 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes. All Romance languages do.

gorillapaws's avatar

Yes, but is the gender consistent from language to language? In other words is “chair” masculine in all/most languages?

janbb's avatar

@gorillapaws I’m pretty sure not. I think it is very idiosyncratic.

LostInParadise's avatar

Chair is feminine in Spanish la silla. Armchair, is masculine – el sillón . The gender assigning process does seem rather idiosyncratic.

zenvelo's avatar

Pasta is feminine in Italian (la pasta) but ravioli is masculine (i ravioli).

ragingloli's avatar

Yes, and even if a language has a genderless pronoun, gendered ones still get used with inanimate objects, while the genderless pronoun can be used on living things that do have a gender. For example, “das Kind” (the child), is always genderless, regardless of whether the child is male or female.

JLeslie's avatar

The example of silla and sillón is an example I use also for very similar objects with different genders.

Dress in Spanish masculine, el vestido. I always found that confusing and odd.

Camión (truck) is masculine, but camioneta is feminine, and in Mexico they use camioneta as truck as well, although some countries use it more to mean van I think.

Most Spanish speaking countries use the word torta for cake, feminine; but Mexico uses pastel, masculine. Torta in Mexico means sandwich.

si3tech's avatar

Both, I think.

Demosthenes's avatar

Yes, all Romance languages have gender, which was inherited from Latin, which itself was inherited from Proto Indo-European (PIE probably originally only had two genders: animate and inanimate. Gender seems to originate as a means of classifying nouns according to real-world traits and categories but soon becomes a mostly arbitrary system). Many other languages have gender, including Greek, Russian, German, Arabic, etc. Some languages have many genders, at which point they’re often called “classes” instead. English only has grammatical gender in pronouns, and many languages lack it, like Korean, Turkish, and Finnish.

@gorillapaws For the most part, yes, if a Latin word was masculine, then it is masculine in all the Romance languages, but there are instances where nouns are re-classified. I can’t think of any examples off-hand, though.

Brian1946's avatar


“Pasta is feminine in Italian (la pasta) but ravioli is masculine (i ravioli).”

Is Italian ravioli anatomically complete? ;-)

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