Questions regarding the grammatical gender of English words.

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48
votes
7answers
113k views

Is it correct to use “their” instead of “his or her”?

Is this sentence grammatically correct? Anyone who loves the English language should have a copy of this book in their bookcase. or should it be: Anyone who loves the English language should ...
153
votes
19answers
48k views

What is a feminine version of 'guys'?

I commonly use the word 'guys' to refer to a group of males colloquially. It's colloquial but not rude, off putting, condescending, patronizing (though I wouldn't use it with a group of men at a board ...
30
votes
5answers
27k views

Is it a good practice to refer to countries, ships etc using the feminine form?

While talking about ships and countries, is it a good practice to use the feminine form? For example: "Her economy" - while referring to a country's economy "Her flag (or deck etc)" - while ...
14
votes
13answers
10k views

Feminine equivalent for Casanova [duplicate]

Is there a feminine equivalent for "Casanova" without negative connotations?
11
votes
4answers
34k views

Should I use “his/her” or “its”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: Gender neutral pronoun Is it correct to use “their” instead of “his or her”? I am writing software documentation. I have this issue: I am ...
24
votes
15answers
12k views

Gender-neutral alternative to “craftsmanship”?

It's straightforward to refer to a "craftsperson" instead of a "craftsman" if one doesn't want to imply a gender. But "craftspersonship", "sportspersonship", and the like seem pretty cumbersome. Is ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

Gender-neutral Forms

What is the unisex form of a word like fisherman? Do you have to use fisherman and fisherwoman separately, or is fisherperson acceptable? I couldn’t find a dictionary with the word … In general, what ...
30
votes
6answers
5k views

A word that says a person is both female and your friend

It's often confusing for me to talk about my friends, especially my female friends. This is because in Dutch there are words for both male ("vriend") and female ("vriendin") friends. In English ...
12
votes
5answers
577 views

When referring to a noun, when does the gender matter? [duplicate]

In most languages, gender plays a much more important role than in English. Nevertheless, it is possible to refer to a noun using its gender. The ship was launched on 4 October 1853. Tayleur left ...
15
votes
9answers
7k views

Is the genderless pronoun “they” appropriate and grammatical for a non-binary gender? [duplicate]

I recently had somebody tell me that a mutual friend of ours who is genderqueer prefers that people refer to him/her using the gender-indefinite pronoun they. In some cases, this almost seems okay: ...
1
vote
4answers
906 views

Politically correct substitutes for (fe)male and (wo)man

In the English language, the pairs man/woman and male/female both look as if one gender or sex was considered a special case for it is denoted by putting an arbitrary prefix (wo-, fe-) before the ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

A man's breast vs. a woman's breasts

Why is it that breast is used when referring to a man's chest, but breasts is used for a woman's? Could breast also mean a woman's chest, or do breasts have to be used when referring to a woman's ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Can the feminine pronouns be gender-neutral? [closed]

I know this sounds weird but I've been noticing a lot of texts on the Internet like this one: "Any citizen is concerned with her well-being ...". The word in question is "her". To me it seems like in ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are there no male or female terms for cousins in English? [duplicate]

In general English doesn't seem to cater well for identifying relationships between people, and the classic example seems to be the term 'cousin' because you can't really work out whether it is ...
24
votes
2answers
5k views

Why don't English nouns have grammatical gender?

English nouns — other than those with natural gender, e.g. people or animals — do not generally have grammatical gender, and so are referred to as 'it' rather than 'he' or 'she'. However, modern ...
9
votes
2answers
17k views

Female Actor or Actress

I've recently noticed the word actor used for female actresses in the Indian print media. I have a few questions : a) Is this the correct usage of the word? b) Is this an international phenomenon? ...
12
votes
6answers
5k views

Is the “female” in “female cousin” redundant here?

"My female cousin working for a finance company was dismissed. Disappeared along with her job were her confidence and smiling face." There is a very complicated system in Chinese for naming ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

Advice for using multiple same-gender personal pronouns in the same sentence

I have often struggled with sentences that contain two characters of the same gender. For example, if there are two females, Alice and Carol, then the following sentence can be confusing. Alice ...
14
votes
2answers
11k views

Where does “Santa” in Santa Claus come from?

Santa Claus is a man, right? In this case, he may not be fine with the fact that people call him Santa, which is the Spanish and Portuguese word for female saint names. For example, Santa Barbara and ...
6
votes
1answer
236 views

Can “female”/“male” be insulting?

If not used when misgendering, making unasked for assumptions about gender or in a hostile context, can usage of the words female/male be insulting? More specifically: can a non-native speaker be ...
3
votes
2answers
524 views

Is the formation “[s]he” overly distracting?

Does the use of "[s]he" as a gender-neutral pronoun prompt eye-rolling in the reader or is it generally accepted? I know it cannot be pronounced, but it seems to me a helpful contraction in written ...
18
votes
3answers
25k views

“Gentleman” is to “male” as what is to “female”?

For males, it's gentleman; and for females?
3
votes
2answers
326 views

How to ask a mixed-gender group for their participation?

This question deals with the use of y’all in written vs. spoken English, gender neutrality and group dynamics. I often find myself writing emails to a group of both men and women asking if they ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Speaking about someone of unknown gender [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Gender neutral pronoun For example, user clicked the button. I don't know if the user is male or female, what gender should I use? Now I read a book, where the user is ...
51
votes
12answers
6k views

A way of describing the lesbian parent that is not pregnant?

A friend of mine is in a long term relationship with her female partner. After deciding they wanted a family, my friend's girlfriend got pregnant. Normally when talking about a couple expecting a ...
16
votes
8answers
2k views

Are there sentences in languages which use grammatical gender that lose meaning when translated into English?

English nouns which don't denote people or animals with natural gender do not (apart from a few rare examples) use grammatical gender. So for example, "table" is always an "it" in English, whereas it ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are there different ways of indicating gender for animals?

Why are there different ways of indicating gender for animals? For instance, by inflexion we get: lion (male) & lioness (female) where the female is distinguished from the male. Here the male is ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Which is more correct: gender or sex? [duplicate]

I've always used "gender" when I want to talk about whether a person is male or female. But I came across this comment on a similar question here: Correct usage is "sex" for humans and other ...
4
votes
2answers
382 views

Is the English Language becoming more generic, in the sense that English is distinguishing less between masculine and feminine?

To clarify: what I mean is that in Australia for instance there is a trend in English to use words that do not distinguish between men and women. E.g. Chairperson instead of Chairman. So the question ...
0
votes
4answers
4k views

Equivalent of “Man up” for a female [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Gender-neutral equivalent for “Take it like a man” Does this make sense? For instance: "John, just man up and get on with it". You can't say this to a ...
13
votes
2answers
861 views

Is “so” more feminine than “very”?

Many Japanese textbooks of English mention the "feminine 'so'": the use of "so" for "very" is more typical of a feminine speaker. I don't think this is true in the US (I learned English living in ...
13
votes
5answers
220k views

What is the male equivalent of “mistress” in formal English?

The mistress definition, Oxford dictionary a woman having an extramarital sexual relationship, esp. with a married man I am looking for the male equivalent of 'mistress' as defined above. Some ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a gender-neutral prefix for “parent”?

The prefixes "patr-" and "matr-" refer, respectively, to father and mother--e.g., a patriarch is a father who rules a family, and a matrilineal society is one where property is passed from mother to ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Using “she” with gender-neutral nouns

The song “Frozen” from Madonna’s Ray of Light (1998) contains the lyrics: Love is a bird, she needs to fly, Let all the hurt inside of you die. Does she refer to bird or love? And why is it ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the origin of “-ix” as a feminine variation?

Some words are made feminine by altering the suffix to be -ix. Examples: dominator → dominatrix executor → executrix rector → rectrix What is the origin of this variation? From my 5 years of ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Difference between female and male usage [closed]

What explains the difference of a de facto larger frequency of vowels of one writer compared to another? In the statistics data I examined, a vowel had higher probability in the text from the female ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Personal pronouns for animals

In my native language German, every animal has an article. This is understandable, if one wants for example to distinguish a male pig (boar) from a female pig (sow). But if one just talks about the ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Sun and moon: male or female?

In other languages, the sun and the moon have definite genders: in French and many other romanic languages le soleil (the sun) is male and la lune (the moon) is female. In German and other germanic ...
1
vote
3answers
626 views

Is English “genderless” or are inanimate nouns just neuter by default?

Some questions on ELU already touch on this subject, and they pose that English does not have grammatical gender which means that most of its inanimate nouns are referred to with it rather than he or ...
1
vote
0answers
51 views

Addressing someone with no specified gender [duplicate]

How do you address someone whose gender is not specified, when you are writing something? Take this as an example: The teacher said we should go; ____ said we are good pupils. Would you insert ...
-1
votes
2answers
281 views

“Layman” and gender equality

Is it correct to write: He wants to explain X concept to the layman, not before warning him ... Or should I write: He wants to explain X concept to the layman, not before warning him or her ...