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The most relevant morphological categories for nouns are gender and number. Gender is important, as every Frisian noun is classified for either common or neuter gender. It is, however, also a somewhat hidden category as it is not expressed on the noun itself but rather in its direct neighbourhood. The most important are the choice of the definite article and adjectival inflection. Furthermore, certain pronouns (for instance possessive or relative) are dependent on gender. Gender assignment in complex words is dependent on their head. For example, addition of the diminutive suffix always makes the noun neuter, and in nominal compounds it is the second member that determines the gender of the whole.

In contrast to certain North Frisian dialects, which possessed a marking for the dualis with pronouns until recently, the morphology of number in Modern West Frisian is restricted to the plural. There are two productive endings, -en and -s, which are distributed on prosodic grounds. Frisian also has a few cases of double plurals, as in learz-en-s boots. Plural formation in Frisian displays quite some irregularity, especially with respect to concomitant changes in the stem vowel.

After the Old Frisian period, the case system collapsed. This had the effect that morphological case is a marginal phenomenon nowadays. Some fixed expressions show a trace of the dative, but the genitive is still relatively the most important. There are three different endings (-s, -e and -ene), although these are restricted to possessive constructions in which the possessor is primarily a name or a name-like element. In the context of nominal ellipsis, where the possession noun is elided, the choice of these endings is narrowed to -s or its variant -es. This might lead one to the idea that it is ellipsis that is marked here in the first place, and hence these phenomena deserve a separate topic.


More information about nouns can be found by following the corresponding links: