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These are sample sentences we usually come across:

  1. This is a husband's provision for his spouse.
  2. This is a wife's provision for her spouse.

One may find a similar sentence reading "A husband’s (or wife’s) provision for a spouse after separation or divorce" at http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/alimony

"Husband" and "wife" are gender-specific words, while "spouse" is a gender-neutral word. Logic says that when a gender-specific word "husband" or "wife" is used in a sentence, the opposite of that word in the sentence should also be gender-specific (and should not be a gender-neutral word). If so, then how could one use gender-specific and gender-neutral words together in the sentences like the ones cited above? Or, how could there be a sentence like the one cited at the link provided above?

To me, the correct sentences would be:

  1. This is a husband's provision for his wife.
  2. This is a wife's provision for her husband.

Or, one could perhaps also say:

  1. This is a spouse's provision for the other spouse.
  2. This is a spouse's provision for the other.

I admit that I may be wrong. Can someone shed some light?

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    In many countries nowadays, a husband may have a husband or a wife may have a wife. However, there is a separate reason for the sentence in the Oxford dictionary: it's longer and more complicated to write "A husband’s (or wife’s) provision for a wife (or a husband) after separation or divorce." – sumelic Jul 17 '16 at 4:37
  • I'm not sure what logic you are referring to, but I don't get it. Also, I don't see where "opposites" come into play with regard to spouses. The usual idea is that they are a union. – Phil Sweet Jul 17 '16 at 4:55
  • I've just checked "a husband's provision for his spouse" for Google hits. Zero, if you discount the two generated here. Please justify 'These are sample sentences we usually come across:'. Note that "A husband’s (or wife’s) provision for a spouse" needs the gender-neutral term after the disjunctive "A husband’s (or wife’s)"; this example is logical. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 17 '16 at 9:40
  • I see you haven't responded. I've just returned here via another search. Your 'Logic says that when a gender-specific word "husband" or "wife" is used in a sentence, the opposite of that word in the sentence should also be gender-specific (and should not be a gender-neutral word).' begs the question. You're confusing referent and token. Obviously when single-sex marriages were the only ones recognised, a 'husband' could only have a female as partner, a 'wife'. But that logic doesn't extend to the allowable choice of words to describe the situation: 'mate' or 'partner' are quite acceptable. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 14 '17 at 13:16
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With LGBT movement, a husband is no longer certain to be a "he". David Furnish was named as newborn Elijah's mother on the birth certificate, while Elton John was listed as his father, reported British media.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2265463/Elton-John-paid-20-000-surrogate-mother-giving-birth-second-son-Elijah.html#ixzz4F4lGIfFN

Grammatical gender in English is scarce, and as arbitrary as in any other language (could an aircraft or automobile really be a "she"?)

Regarding divorce, I believe the word "spouse" may be considered more suitable, as the persons would not intend to remain in the relationship, coming for divorce. The words "husband" and "wife" would be associated with a sustained relationship more. The word "spouse" would be used in the papers before divorce, according to the legal status.

  • Herbie is considered a he ;) – Helmar Aug 20 '16 at 20:57
  • Apparently, even the Duke of Gloucester is a 'she' to ferroequinologists. But Thomas has got them stymied. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 20 '16 at 21:10
  • Gender/sexuality issues are an area in which you have to be particularly careful reading the daily mail, especially when they intersect with celebrity. I think birth certificates in the UK allow for two "parent"s these days, avoiding the need to use "mother" for a man as the mail would have us believe – Chris H Aug 20 '16 at 21:32
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    I rather think that husbands are always male and wives always female. What's changed is the you cannot assume the gender of the spouse. But once you say husband or wife, you do know that gender. – tchrist Aug 20 '16 at 23:15
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    @Teresa: The innate gender of husband/wife has nothing to do with Elton John's example. First of all, that's about mother/father, not husband/wife. Secondly, David Furnish is only listed as the mother due to unchanged administrative forms. He will, for all intents and purposes (with the sole exception of the form that has not been updated yet), be called the father of the child. Husbands are still innately male, wives are still innately female. The only thing that has changed is that you can have two husbands or two wives in a single marriage. – Flater Jul 14 '17 at 9:41

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