In order to properly systematise a language, it’s important to group together words that have some aspects in common. That way, you simply need to learn a limited amount of grammar rules that apply to these classes, instead of learning every single word and how it behaves. And, in linguistics, gender is simply another way of creating these noun classes. In fact, in some cases, the terms “grammatical gender” and “noun class” are used as synonyms. It is, however, a rather fascinating way of grouping together words. While many nouns do have rather obvious ties to real-life, natural genders (“girl”, boy”), most do not (“table”, “door”). Which makes assigning grammatical genders to words a peculiar, and somewhat arbitrary, task. And yet, gender is a surprisingly common way of classifying nouns, present in around one quarter of world’s languages. For native English-speakers, it can be surprising to encounter gendered words in other languages but this is, actually, a rather common phenomenon. It is estimated that around a quarter in existence languages make use of grammatical genders. It’s a very common way of classifying nouns in parts of the world – most Indo-European languages make use of grammatical genders, as do others, common in the Middle East and Africa. German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew, among others, all have varying numbers of grammatical genders. Interestingly, there are also regions with very few gendered languages – mostly in Asia and among the native languages in North America. Even Old-English, the predecessor of the modern day version, had a complex system of grammatical gender. While contemporary English has done away with most of it, some remnants still stick around. The most obvious are, of course, the personal pronouns (“he”, “she”, “it”) but there are even a few words still in use that have distinct male-female forms. Consider “steward – stewardess”, “waiter-waitress”, “god-goddess”, and you’ll see how grammatical gender still influences how we speak.