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Unit 2.1

Nouns – Feminine Formation

Word Formation

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

Nouns have three gendersmasculinefeminine and neutral. In most cases, we can form a feminine version from a masculine noun when the person we’re talking about is a woman.

Femenine 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.

Irregular

But we can find some exceptions that regularly occur:

  • Suffix –tor or –ter: change to –tr and add –ess;
  • Suffix –e: add –ss;
  • Suffix stressed vowel + consonant: double the consonant and add –ess.

Regular

  • HostOur hostess is a nice woman.
  • CountThe Countess gave birth at eleven.
  • Manager The Manageress check the rooms at weekends.

Irregular

Nouns with suffixes -tor or -ter

  • Actor She is my favourite actress.
  • Waiter ⇒ These girls are waitresses.

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.

We form a feminine version of the word 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.

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

For example:
— Regular: “Lion” ⇒ “Lioness” = We add -ess.

However, there are some irregularities about fememine formation, depending on the ending of the nouns.

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

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

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