Which languages have three noun classes corresponding to men, women and a third gender? Where can I find lists like this?

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    We don't understand your question. Do you want a list of all languages with a three-way gender system of masculine v. feminine v. neuter? Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 12:15
  • Hello hippietrail. Thank you for answering my question. :) I guess that's it. Languages that is specifically for men, women and third gender.
    – Miss Lc
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 12:21
  • 1
    Which of the two options in @fdb's answer below are you asking about? It's still unclear.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 5:40

3 Answers 3


WALS has this information available in Chapter 30.

I'm not an expert at WALS I think the map from this link will show all languages with grammatical gender but you can narrow the list down by choosing 3 from a dropdown menu, though that doesn't hide the other languages form the map:


This gives us a list of just 26 languages:

Though it's apparent that since English is included that this list might include languages which only make the distinction for pronouns and not nouns. If you want a list with only languages such as German and Russian I'm afraid I don't know how to narrow down the list on WALS.

It also seems odd to me that the majority of Slavic languages are not included. This could be due to an animate/inanimate distinction leading to analyses that they have four genders.

  • 5
    This list looks extremely fishy to me.
    – fdb
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 13:45
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    I looked up some languages I knew to have three(ish) genders and did not find them listed with two or four genders, which shows that the WALS data is far from complete. This list may still be useful to give you some broad ideas. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 0:27
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    Where is Belorussian, for instance? Where is Polish? Where are other Slavic languages?
    – Anixx
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 1:59
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    I have a meta-comment on WALS -- it does not purport to be complete, or to even be exhaustive in the context of what has been published, ever, anywhere. This particular map is based on 256 languages. The chapter on plurality covers 1066 languages (ambitious!). So your mileage may vary.
    – user6726
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 23:00
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    It's also missing Dutch. Huge omissions. ("This particular map is based on 256 languages." But not even the most commonly-spoken 256 either)
    – smci
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 20:42

The Slavic languages were mentioned above, as they often are in the context of a three-way gender system, but the case is actually a little more complicated. I will limit myself to Polish.

The traditional, Latin-inspired interpretation is masculine, feminine, neuter, the division being mainly defined by phonetics. Feminines end mostly in -a, -i, and palatalized consonants, neuters in -o, -e, and , and everything else (mostly non-palatalized consonants) is masculine. Plus a few semantic exceptions, e.g. mężczyzna 'man, male', or poeta '(male) poet' are masculine despite their endings.

A more modern approach is to distinguish as many as five genders for the singular, but only two for the plural. In the singular, these would be: 1a. masculine (people), 1b. masculine (animate), 1c. masculine (inanimate), 2. feminine, 3. neuter. In the plural, just 1. masculine (people), 2. everything else. This distinction is based, like the traditional one, on endings, but unlike it, this one also takes into account the accusative. Specifically, in which number it is the same as the genitive, and in which it is the same as the nominative. The whole thing is actually a bit complicated. You might want to take a look at http://grzegorj.w.interia.pl/gram/en/gram00.html, and especially http://grzegorj.w.interia.pl/gram/en/deklin_stat.html.

My point is that the more you think about it, the more fuzzy the notion of gender becomes. In the case of Polish, it becomes some weird cross between declension types, syntax and semantics, and makes it really difficult to answer your question. I think you'd need a pretty sturdy definition of gender before venturing anywhere further with whatever idea made you ask this question, and it isn't going to be easy to find or construct one.


If you asking about languages that distinguish between (1) nouns for animate male beings, (2) nouns for animate female beings, (3) nouns for inanimate beings, then the answer is that very few languages classify their nouns in this way. One of these few is English, with its pronouns he, she, and it.

If you are asking about what is properly called grammatical gender, where the nouns for animate male beings are of masculine gender, nouns for animate female beings are of feminine gender, and nouns for inanimate beings are distributed more or less arbitrarily between two (masculine and feminine) or three (masculine, feminine, neuter) genders, then this is the situation in most of the Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages, but virtually no where else.

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