Are there other languages, besides Latin, where a gender of a noun is determined by its genitive case ending?

  • 8
    The gender of a Latin noun is not determined by the genitive case ending. nauta, nautae is masculine while victima, victimae is feminine. ratio, rationis is feminine while leo, leonis is masculine. Mar 20, 2019 at 17:50
  • 1
    As Sumelic says, this isn't actually true in Latin.
    – Draconis
    Mar 20, 2019 at 18:03
  • 4
    In Latin (and perhaps in other languages), there is a tradition of choosing the genitive case form as part of the citation form for a noun. This doesn't have anything to do with the function of genitive case, just with the facts that almost every noun has such a case form, and that the stem for the genitive was usually the one that appeared on most other case forms -- unlike the nominative singular, which frequently diverged from the genitive stem. Many consonant clusters were lost in the nominative: mens, mentis; cor, cordis; honos, honoris; etc.
    – jlawler
    Mar 20, 2019 at 18:54

2 Answers 2


The idea of a "genitive case ending" isn't particularly universal; it shows up mostly in Indo-European languages. And no IE language I know of (including Latin) actually shows gender specifically with the genitive ending.

But if you relax your requirements a bit, many Eastern Bantu languages mark gender on the genitive particle. For example, in Swahili:

  • mama wa mtoto "the child's mother", gender #1 (individual people)
  • miti mya mtoto "the child's trees", gender #4 (groups of plants and things that extend)
  • kitabu cha mtoto "the child's book", gender #7 (artifacts created by humans and small versions of things)

Note that, unlike in IE languages, the genitive marker agrees with the thing being possessed rather than with the possessor.

  • 1
    I'm not familiar with the grammar of Swahili, but if this is a separate word, it seems like it's an example of a possessive marker agreeing in gender with the head of the surrounding noun phrase (the possessed word is the head), which shows up in Indo-European languages as well: Latin pater meus "my-M father" vs. mater mea "my-F mother" or French son père "his/her-M father" vs. sa mère "his/her-F mother". The difference is just that Latin and French don't use this kind of strategy when the possessor is non-pronominal. Mar 20, 2019 at 19:23

For German, it can be said that nouns that have -(e)s in the genitive (singular) are not feminine, i.e. they are masculine or neuter. Feminine nouns have no case endings in the singular. Also, neuter nouns have -(e)s in the genitive*, whereas masculine nouns have one of -(e)s, -(e)n, -(e)ns (Mannes, Jungen, Namens).

However, names have -(e)s even if feminine in those contexts where names have an ending (Marias Stimme, die Stimme Marias vs. die Stimme unserer lieben Maria).

* One exception: the neuter noun Herz has -ens in the genitive.

So the following relationships hold:

  1. feminine ↔ no case ending
  2. neuter → -(e)s
  3. -(e)n or -(e)ns → masculine
  4. -(e)s → masculine or neuter

Cases 1 and 3 are those where it can be said that the case ending determines the gender.

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