- English Grammar A1 Level - https://open.books4languages.com/english-a1-grammar -

Feminine Noun formation

Introduction

Nouns refer to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality.

We can form a feminine version from a masculine noun [1] when the person we’re talking about is a woman.

Form

Feminine nouns can be formed from masculine ones by just adding a suffix. The various cases of the formation of feminine nouns are:

Regular

In most cases we obtain the feminine form by adding –ess to the masculine form.

MasculineFeminine
CountCountess
HostHostess
ManagerManageress

Irregular

But we can find some exceptions that regularly occur:

  • Nouns with suffix –tor or –ter: change to –tr and add –ess;
MasculineFeminine
ActorActress
WaiterWaitress
  • Nouns with suffix –e: add –ss;
MasculineFeminine
PrincePrincess
  • Nouns with suffix stressed vowel + consonant: double the consonant and add –ess.
MasculineFeminine
GodGoddess

Example

Regular

  • CountThe Countess gave birth at eleven.
  • HostOur hostess is a nice woman.
  • ManagerThe Manageress checks the rooms at weekends.

Irregular

Nouns with suffixes -tor or -ter

  • ActorShe is my favourite actress.
  • Waiter ⇒ These girls are waitress.

Nouns with suffix -e

  • PrinceThe princess got married and lived happily ever after.

Nouns ending with stressed vowel followed by consonant

  • GodAthena is an ancient goddess.

Use

We use feminine nouns when the person we’re talking about is a woman, and the noun has a possible feminine version.

There are exceptions and irregularities that need to be studied by heart.

Summary

It is possible to obtain the feminine version of nouns [1] from masculine forms. In most cases, we are able to do it by simply adding an -ess.

For example:
— “Lion” ⇒ “Lioness” = We add -ess at the end of the noun.

However, there are some irregularities within feminine formation, depending on the ending of the nouns.

For example:
— With suffix -tor or -ter, we change –tor to –tr and add -ess: “Conductor” ⇒ “Conductress“.
— With suffix -e, we add -ss: “Prince” ⇒ “Princess“.
— With suffix stressed vowel + consonant, we double the consonant -d and add -ess: “God” ⇒ “Goddess“.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.