All nouns in Icelandic belong to one of three genders: he , she , or it . The gender of a word is only reflected in how it causes other words (and word endings) to behave. The gender of a noun is what decides the gender of the adjective that describes it.
Have a look at some words of different genders:
- He : maður, fótur, köttur, garður, stóll, banani, fótbolti, hamborgari
- She : kona, skyrta, tunga, mínúta, súpa, mjólk, pítsa, frétt
- It : barn, gras, hús, epli, brauð, kaffi, kvöld, símanúmer, svar
Although there are some patterns you may be able to pick out, it’s not really possible to know a word’s gender just by looking at it, instead it is something you slowly learn by seeing how the word causes other words in the sentence to behave.
Many other European languages also have a grammatical gender, such as German, Russian, and French. There is really no reason for why words have a gender, they just do. Words such as köttur (which is masculine ) can also refer to female cats.
See the effect a word’s gender has on the rest of the sentence:
- Hvað er kötturinn þinn gamall?
- Hvað er skyrtan þín gömul?
- Hvað er húsið þitt gamalt?