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Hi, everybody! Stefania here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Greek questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is “Are the nouns for professions the same for the masculine and feminine gender?”
The answer is “not always.” You may have seen nouns of professions such as γιατρός (yatrós, "doctor"), and δικηγόρος (dikigóros, "lawyer") that remain the same for the masculine and feminine gender. For some of those, the reason is that in the past it was unthinkable for women to become doctors or lawyers. So today, some professions use the masculine form for the feminine gender as well. However, there are many professions that have their own feminine forms as well. The percentage is around 50/50.
Are there any rules that help us convert a masculine profession noun into the feminine form?
Actually, no. Learning the feminine profession nouns is a matter of memorization. Apart from the nouns that are identical for the two genders, there are 3 ways that the feminine profession nouns are created.
1. By replacing the masculine ending with a feminine one. For example, ο αθλητής - η αθλήτρια (o athlitís - i athlítria, "athlete").
2. By using a completely different word. For example, ο κουρέας - η κομμώτρια (o kuréas - i komótria, "barber - hairdresser").
3. Periphrastically. For example, οι γυναίκες πιλότοι (i yinékes pilóti, "female pilots"). This is used mainly for the plural feminine versions of the two-gendered nouns because although in singular the article helps distinguish the genders, for example ο πιλότος (masculine) - η πιλότος (feminine) (o pilótos - i pilótos, "pilot"), in plural, the article is identical for the two genders, οι πιλότοι (i pilóti) (masculine/feminine).
Here are some sample sentences.
Όταν μεγαλώσει θέλει να γίνει αθλητής. (Ótan megalósi théli na yíni athlitís.)
"When he grows up he wants to become an athlete."
Είναι δύσκολο να βρεις μια καλή κομμώτρια. (Íne dískolo na vris mia kalí komótria.)
"It's difficult to find a good hairdresser."
Now, let's see some common feminine profession noun endings.
The first category we shall see are the masculine -ος (-os) ending profession nouns. Here, the vast majority of the nouns are identical for both genders. For the rest, some common feminine endings are...
-ισσα (-isa) like ο καπετάνιος - η καπετάνισσα, (o kapetánios - i kapetánisa, "captain")
-ίνα (-ína) like ο αστυνομικός - η αστυνομικίνα, (o astinomikós - i astinomikína, "police officer")
and -α (-a) like ο νοσοκόμος - η νοσοκόμα, (o nosokómos - i nosokóma, "nurse")
The endings -ισσα (-isa) and -ίνα (-ína) are sometimes alternative endings, however, they sound very informal and sometimes they are inappropriate for standard or formal speech. For example, it’s more common to say η αστυνομικός (i astinomikós) than η αστυνομικίνα (i astinomikína, "police officer").
Here are some sample sentences.
Ο καπετάνιος είναι ο τελευταίος που εγκαταλείπει το πλοίο. (O kapetánios íne o teleftéos pu engatalípi to plío.)
"The captain is the last to abandon the ship."
Όλες οι νοσοκόμες ήταν καλές μαζί μου. (Óles i nosokómes ítan kalés mazí mu.)
"All the nurses were nice to me."
The second category are the masculine -ας (-as) ending profession nouns.
Here, around one-third of the nouns are identical for both genders and more than half are masculine nouns that end in -ίστας (-ístas) which form feminine versions in either -ίστα (-ísta) or -ίστρια (-ístria) like ο αρτίστας - η αρτίστα, (o artístas - i artístria, "artist") and ο γραφίστας - η γραφίστρια, (o grafístas - i grafístria, "graphic designer"). Only a few feminine nouns of this category may end in -ισσα (-isa).
The final category is the masculine -ης (-is) ending nouns. Here, the masculine nouns that end in -της/τής (-tis) and that they derive from a verb form feminine nouns ending in -τρια (-tria), like ο εργάτης - η εργάτρια, (o ergátis - i ergátria, "worker"), deriving from the verb εργάζομαι, (ergázome, "to work"). Furthermore, the masculine nouns that end in -τζής (-jís), form their feminine counterparts in -τζού (-jú), like ο ταξιτζής - η ταξιτζού (o taxijís - i taxijú, "taxi driver"). The rest usually form the feminine nouns ending in -ισσα (-isa), a few have the alternative scholarly -ιδα (-ida) and -ις (-is) endings, while some share the same form.
Here are some sample sentences.
Οι εργάτες κάνουν απεργία. (I ergátes kánun aperyía.)
"The workers are on a strike."
Η επαγγελματίας γραφίστρια σχεδιάζει ένα λογότυπο. (I epangelmatías grafístria schediázi éna logótipo.)
"The professional graphic designer is designing a logo."
Of course, not all professions are expressed with single noun words. There are many professions that consist of either two nouns or an adjective and a noun. In the first case, the feminine versions of both nouns rely on what we discussed in this video. For example, ο αναπληρωτής καθηγητής (o anaplirotís kathiyitís) becomes η αναπληρώτρια καθηγήτρια (i anaplirótria kathiyítria, "substitute teacher"). In the second case, the adjective will always agree in gender with the noun. For example, ο κοινωνικός λειτουργός - η κοινωνική λειτουργός (o kinonikós liturgós - i kinonikí liturgós, "social worker").


How was the lesson? Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
Γεια χαρά! (Ya hará!)

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