What is Gender?
In English Grammar, Gender is that property of a nounOpens in new window or pronounOpens in new window that indicates the sex of an object. In English these distinctions are a matter of biology or custom, not actual grammatical gender, as it is in French, for example.
The English language has three genders: Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter. Each of these is discussed below:
- Masculine Gender — The masculine gender indicates a being of the male sex: as, boy, man, son, nephew, father, brother, bull, Emmanuel.
- Feminine Gender — The feminine gender indicates a being of the female sex: as, girl, woman, daughter, niece, mother, sister, hen, sow, Emmanuella.
- Neuter Gender — The neuter gender indicates an object of no sex: as, floor, stone, rain, plants, clouds, country.
In addition to the three genders, there exists another gender, by the term “Common Gender”; and refers to nouns that may be either masculine or feminine but do not specifically designate any particular gender: as, baby, spouse, ancestor, parent, teacher, scientist, schoolmate, etc.
Perhaps it would be helpful to note that some inanimate objects are very often spoken of in such manner as though they were feminine. For example, to name a few; ships are often spoken of as she, as are automobiles and trains; also the Catholic Church has traditionally been referred to as feminine. Sometimes in poetry, celestial objects such as the moon are referred to as she; the sun, as he. These uses are chiefly historical or poetical. In ordinary prose, especially in science, these words are treated as neuter, with the possible exception of ship, which obstinately retains its feminine reference.