Old Persian has three genders but Modern Persian is a gender-neutral language. It does not distinguish between masculine, feminine or neuter genders. In English, there are “he”, “she” and “it” for different genders but Persian uses the same pronoun for all genders. The fact of being male or female is expressed lexically rather than grammatically. That is, gender is indicated by words rather than by inflections.

Different Words for Genders

Some nouns have different words for male and female genders.

Male Female
مرد
mard
man
زن
zan
woman
برادر
barâdar
brother
خواهر
khwâhar
sister
پسر
pesar
boy; son
دختر
dokhtar
girl; daughter
خروس
khorus
rooster
مرغ
morgh
hen
اسب
asb
horse
مادیان
mâdiyân
mare (female horse)

Indicating Gender in Human Beings

Regarding nouns that do not have different words for male and female human beings, the words mard (man), zan (woman), pesar (boy), dokhtar (girl) can be used to indicate their gender.

Male or Female Male Female
پلیس
polis
police
پلیس مرد
polis-e mard
policeman
پلیس زن
polis-e zan
policewoman
بازیگر
bâzigar
actor, actress
بازیگر مرد
bâzigar-e mard
actor
بازیگر زن
bâzigar-e zan
actress
پزشک
pezeshk
doctor
پزشک مرد
pezeshk-e mard
male doctor
پزشک زن
pezeshk-e zan
female doctor
دانشجو
dâneshju
student
دانشجوی پسر
dâneshju-ye pesar
boy student
دانشجوی دختر
dâneshju-ye dokhtar
girl student

Arabic Feminine Forms

Some Arabic loanwords have brought their feminine form into Persian as well:

Male or Female Female Meaning
شهید شهیده martyr
مدیر مدیره manager
شاعر شاعره poet

These feminine forms are only found in written Persian and they are optional forms. That is, شاعر still means a “poet”, whether male or female. Persian does not distinguish genders and it is not considered natural to use a suffix to feminize a noun.

Indicating Gender in Animals

Regarding animal nouns that do not have different words for male and female, the adjectives nar (male) and mâdde (female) are used to indicate their gender:

Male or Female Male Female
شیر
shir
lion, lioness
شیر نر
shir-e nar
male lion
شیر ماده
shir-e mâdde
lioness
sag
سگ
dog
سگ نر
sag-e nar
male dog
سگ ماده
sag-e mâdde
female dog
gorbe
گربه
cat
گربه‌ی نر
gorbe-ye nar
male cat
گربه‌ی ماده
gorbe-ye mâdde
female cat