Feature GB030: Is there a gender distinction in independent 3rd person pronouns?

Patrons: Hannah J. Haynie



This question targets the existence of any gender distinction in phonologically independent third person pronouns. For the purposes of this feature we define third person pronouns as including demonstratives. A masculine/feminine distinction is commonly encoded in third person pronouns, but distinctions in any other noun class/gender categories such as animacy also satisfy the criterion for coding a 1 for this feature. For languages with no third person independent pronouns or no noun class/gender distinctions in third person pronouns, a gender distinction in demonstratives would be sufficient to trigger a 1 here. If pronouns with just inanimate referents (or alternatively, just animate referents) agree with the noun class/gender of the corresponding noun that also suffices for 1. If a language has any gender distinction for third person pronouns but not for demonstratives, this is also sufficient for a 1. For more information on the difference between grammatical gender and social, cultural, and biological constructs or traits, see the gender wiki page.


  1. If there are grammaticalized independent third person pronouns which encode a distinction in gender, including categories such as masculine and feminine or animacy, code 1.
  2. If there are independent third person pronouns that are marked for the gender/noun class of the referent, code 1.
  3. If there are no third person pronouns that specify gender/noun class but there are demonstratives that encode gender distinctions, code 1. Note that this includes cases where the language's third person pronouns do not encode any noun class/gender distinctions as well as cases where there are no independent third person pronouns.
  4. If pronouns are used only for animate third person referents and demonstratives are used for inanimate third person referents, but no noun class/gender contrasts are encoded within the third person pronouns nor within the set of demonstratives, this can be interpreted as an animacy contrast in third person pro-forms and is sufficient for 1 coding.
  5. If neither independent third person pronouns nor demonstratives are marked for noun class/gender, code 0.
  6. If you are uncertain whether the categories distinguished in third person pronoun forms or demonstratives are relevant to this feature, code ? and provide a comment describing the potentially relevant categories in the language's third person pronouns and/or demonstratives.


Kuot (ISO 639-3: kto, Glottolog: kuot1243)

Kuot has no third person pronouns (Lindström 2002: 132). It does have demonstratives that can function as third person pronouns, and these forms index masculine vs. feminine gender (Lindström 2002: 134). Kuot would be coded 1.

Biak (ISO 639-3: bhw, Glottolog: biak1248)

Biak has independent third person pronouns in several number categories: singular i, dual su, paucal sko. For only the third person plural pronouns there is a distinction between animate (si) and inanimate (na) (van den Heuvel 2006: 66). Biak is coded 1.

Ingush (ISO 639-3: inh, Glottolog: ingu1240)

Ingush third person pronouns are historically related to demonstratives (Nichols 2011: 172). Neither singular nor plural third person pronouns distinguish any categories of noun class/gender (including animacy, noun class, etc.) (Nichols 2011: 174). Ingush is coded 0.

Further reading

Bhat, Darbhe Narayana Shankara. 2007. Pronouns. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Corbett, Greville G. 1991. Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Siewierska, Anna. 2013. Gender distinctions in independent personal pronouns. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath (eds), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.


Lindström, Eva. 2002. Topics in the grammar of Kuot. Stockholm: Stockholm University. (Doctoral dissertation.)

Nichols, Johanna. 2011. Ingush grammar. (University of California Publications in Linguistics.) Berkeley: University of California Press.

van den Heuvel, Wilco. 2006. Biak: Description of an Austronesian language of Papua. Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit. (Doctoral dissertation.)

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0 absent
1 present
? Not known



Name Glottocode Family Macroarea Contributor Value Source Comment