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I'd like to express the full sentence: She looks quite thin, but in fact she is a man of character. Can we apply the expression a man of character when a woman has a strong character?

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    No. It sounds just as awkward to everyone else.
    – herisson
    Apr 23, 2016 at 19:38
  • Why say she is a man when in fact she's a woman.....we don't usually say she is a man unless discussing gender issues and someone is saying that. But certainly the thin and of character wouldn't work there.
    – Lambie
    Apr 23, 2016 at 19:43
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    I think you want to say that she looks frail but that she has the character of a man. But that's problematic for two reasons. The first is that physical weakness is not an indication of strength of character. Secondly, why should the character of a man be more praiseworthy than the character of a woman? Perhaps She may look quite small and childlike, but she has an adult's strength of character.
    – deadrat
    Apr 23, 2016 at 20:02
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    "Woman of character" is a correct expression. Also woman of temperament or strong lady.
    – Graffito
    Apr 23, 2016 at 21:42
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    It should be noted, though, that saying something like "She's a better man than anyone else in the room" is occasionally said, with complementary intent, to indicate that the woman has great courage or other such "manly" attributes.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 23, 2016 at 22:03

1 Answer 1

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Unless specifically wanting to address gender variability, the contradiction of using she/man or he/woman should be avoided.

She is a woman of character.

However, this can be simply solved by using gender-neutral nouns.

She is a person of character.

Both are acceptable and readily understood.

More to the point though, it seems that you want to give this particular sentiment:

She is a person of substance.
She is a deep person.
She is a person of conviction and strength.

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  • Thank you for all your answers. How can you explain the expression A PERSON OF SUBSTANCE? What's the difference between this saying and the expression A PERSON OF CHARACTER?
    – user170800
    Apr 25, 2016 at 8:01
  • A "person of substance" is mostly used to indicate a person conducts life with meaningful intentions. This person would deal with big issues and would not be vain or ineffectual. A "person of character" refers more specifically to moral standards. Such a person would be honest, forthright, earnest, and law-abiding. Both terms are very subjective and mean something different depending on the person who reads/hears it.
    – Cord
    Apr 28, 2016 at 2:57

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