A Rough Guide for Forming Feminine Job Nouns in Greek
A number of learners have asked us to present them with some basic rules regarding the formation of feminine job nouns and we thought it was appropriate to do so. However, this area of grammar is particularly complex and has caused great debate and confusion. One job noun may have more than one feminine form, one more commonly used than the other.
Here is a rough guide:
Feminine endings from nouns ending in -ος and -ός
- For masculine nouns ending in -ος, -αρχος, -ίατρος, -κόμος, -λόγος, -λογος, -ούχος, -τρόφος, -τροφος, - νόμος, the feminine version doesn’t change.
Examples: ο/η δικηγόρος (the lawyer), o/η έμπορος (the merchant), o/η πρόεδρος (the president), ο/η κτηνίατρος (the vet), ο/η κτηνοτρόφος (the livestock-breeder), o/η μελισσοκόμος (the beekeeper), ο/η αστυνόμος (the police officer).
- For masculine nouns ending in -ός,-αγωγός -αγός, -ηγός , -ικός, -ουργός, -ποιός, -ρός, the feminine version doesn’t change.
Examples: o/η γιατρός (the doctor), ο/η παιδαγωγός (the educator), ο/η μηχανικός (the mechanic), ο/η στιχουργός (the lyricist), ο/η στρατιωτικός (the military officer), ο/η ηθοποιός (the actor/actress), ο/η θυρωρός (the doorkeeper)
A few nouns ending in -κόμος (e.g. νοσοκόμος (nurse)) form the feminine version in -κόμα (η νοσοκόμα).
A few nouns ending in -νόμος or -ός (e.g. αστυνόμος, γιατρός, δικηγόρος) also form the feminine version in -ίνα (αστυνομικίνα) or ίνα-, έσσα (δικηγορίνα, γιατρέσσα). These forms, however, are less common in texts or formal speech.
Feminine endings from nouns ending in -ας
- For masculine nouns ending in -έας, -ίας, the feminine version doesn’t change.
Examples: ο/η γραμματέας (the secretary), ο/η ταμίας (the cashier), o/η συγγραφέας (the writer)
Nouns ending in - ίστας (γραφίστας (graphic designer), πιανίστας (pianist), τενίστας (tennis player)) usually form the feminine version in -ίστρια (γραφίστρια, πιανίστρια, τενίστρια).
Nouns ending in -ονας (επιστήμονας (scientist), αρχιτέκτονας (architect)) or -ας (μάγειρας (cook)) sometimes form the feminine version in -ισσα (επιστημόνισσα, αρχιτεκτόνισσα, μαγείρισσα). These forms are less common in texts or formal speech.
Feminine endings from nouns ending in -ης
- For masculine nouns ending in -της or -τής that derive from verbs , the feminine version changes to -τρια or -στρια.
Examples: ο κομμωτής-η κομμώτρια (the hairdresser), ο γλύπτης-η γλύπτρια (the sculptor), ο εργάτης-η εργάτρια (the worker), ο εκδότης-η εκδότρια (the publisher), ο εφευρέτης-η εφευρέτρια (the inventor), ο συντάκτης-η συντάκτρια (the editor), ο ψυχοθεραπευτής-η ψυχοθεραπεύτρια (the psychotherapist), ο καθηγητής-η καθηγήτρια (the professor/teacher), ο λογιστής-η λογίστρια (the accountant), o σχεδιαστής-η σχεδιάστρια (the designer).
- For masculine nouns ending in -της or -τής that don’t derive from verbs, or nouns ending in άρχης, -μέτρης, -πώλης, -κράτης, the feminine version changes to -ισσα.
Examples: ο κρεοπώλης-η κρεοπώλισσα (the butcher), ο αγρότης- η αγρότισσα (the farmer), ο ακροβάτης-η ακρoβάτισσα (the acrobat), ο εργοστασιάρχης-η εργοστασιάρχισσα (the industrialist)
We hope we have clarified some things for you. For an further questions or concerns, feel free to comment. ^.^
A question I'm interested in - how much is this changing over time in Greek?
For example, 30 years ago you'd hear the word "manageress" in English; now virtually never. In our time, you still hear "actress", but "actor" is increasingly used in a gender-neutral way.
It depends on the word, really. For example, "η επιστημόνισσα" is practically never used nowadays, but saying "η τενίστρια" is fine (and the only option, actually).
A typo, Dimitra, ο συντάκτης, η συντάκτρια. Really hard to remember these rules! I remember by examples. Some of them are extremely rare to find today, but we owe ıt to the women. :) They We have to find some similar terms for men too, as for instance, ο μανικιουρίστας ;)
Thank you for the observation Stergi ^.^ Yes, this is a hard set of rules for learners to remember, but I feel like having something to go back to when you need some help is going to make a huge difference, compared to looking it up on a dictionary or asking natives. Personally, it's habit that did the trick for me, and what sounds best, to my ears. ^.^
Oh right, there's that one too. I can't think of another one though. It's an interesting topic.