According to the Wikipedia article on grammatical gender (version at time of writing),

in Spanish, female gender is often attributed to objects that are “used by women, natural, round, or light” and male gender to objects “used by men, artificial, angular, or heavy.”

The source is a similar statement in the book Social Psychology of Culture by Chi-Yue Chiu and Ying-yi Hong. No evidence is provided for this claim, as far as I can see.

This project is an attempt to test the above claim by comparing masculine and feminine nouns on the Spanish Wikipedia, specifically the claims concerning natural and artificial objects.

The analysis found no difference between the grammatical gender of nouns in Wikipedia articles to do with nature as compared with manmade objects.

You can check out my code on GitHub.


  • The program downloads a specified version of the Spanish Wikipedia from a data dump.
  • The master list of masculine and feminine nouns comes from the dictionary FreeLing.
  • The program iterates through all the articles and tallies the masculine and feminine nouns, writing the results to a text file.
  • The program sums the masculine and feminine nouns in a given article, and all the articles that it links to.


  • The word de is a preposition and a feminine noun in Spanish. Every instance of the preposition de would be incorrectly counted as a feminine noun by There are presumably many other examples of words being incorrectly classed as a noun.
  • Certain words occur in Wikipedia articles frequently. For example, Referencias meaning References occurs in virtually every article. These words are not related to the subject matter of the article, but would still be counted.


Here are the results. This table lists the number of nouns in the listed article and all the articles it links to, together with the ratio of masculine nouns to feminine nouns.

Article Translation Number of nouns Ratio M/F
Ingeniería Engineering 309,208 0.9266
Tren Train 153,426 0.9708
Diseño Design 69,966 0.9770
Arquitectura Architecture 236,646 0.9554
Ciencia política Political science 280,862 0.9804
Botánica Botany 309,742 0.9821
Biología Biology 542,049 0.9822
Naturaleza Nature 455,088 1.0045
Animalia Animalia 256,790 1.0652
Wikipedia total   438,157,505 0.9349


The articles are just a few that I selected which I thought reflected the natural vs artificial dichotomy. The articles which are artificial seem to have lower masculine:feminine ratios, while the natural articles have a higher ratio. The difference is very small, however, so it’s possible that there is no discernible difference. This is not predicted by the claim we are testing, which would predict a higher ratio for artificial articles compared to natural articles.


  • It is possible this negative result is a consequence of the shortcomings listed above.
  • It is possible I have incorrectly understood what artificial and natural objects are.

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