The pronoun ‘he’ is used for Singular Masculine nouns, ‘she’ is used for Singular Feminine nouns, and ‘it’ is used for Singular Neuter nouns. 3.
The pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ may be Masculine, Feminine, or Neuter. In many other languages, neuter nouns take on a particular gender.
In Spanish, for example, la mesa (the table) is considered feminine, while el lapiz (the pencil) is considered masculine — in Spanish, note that la and el are both used as the word “the,” and denote the nouns gender.
In these languages, genders are often arbitrary and have little to do with the characteristics of the objects they describe. French, German, and Italian are other languages that prescribe either a masculine or feminine gender to nouns that are neuter in English.
In this article, we shall explain the concept of genders of nouns and pronouns.
Gender of Nouns
Gender can be described as the grammatical words opposite to each other in sex, that is, masculine (male persons) and feminine (female persons). The neutral one (neither male nor female) is neuter. Consider the examples below.
1. Some of them can be recognised by adding ‘ess’ with certain words. For example:
2. Other words that can be considered masculine and feminine. For example:
Essential Keys to Note
You should note that the subject must agree with gender. Look at examples below.
(i) He is the proprietor of this school.
(ii) Bola is a widow.
(iii) The man is a good actor.
(iv) She is the queen of Batake
In the examples above, we can notice the agreement between subjects and genders. But don’t say:
(i) She is the proprietor of this school.
(ii) Bola is a widower.
(iii) The man is a good actress.
(iv) She is the king of Batake.
Neuter: Neuter means things that are neither males nor females. Consider the following examples: house, table, pen, school, door, chair, ball, etc.
- Distinguish between masculine gender and feminine gender.
- Complete the table below with appropriate genders.
3. Say whether the following words are masculine, feminine or neuter gender.
i. mother ii. grandpa iii. goose
iv. men v. cup vi. bull
vii. master viii. table ix. she-goat
x. husband xi. host xii. Tigress
xiii. boar xiv. window xv. Book
xvi. novel xvii. fan xviii. landlord
Pronouns as Gender
As said while discussing nouns, pronouns also indicate gender. Learn from the table below.
Important Keys to Note
Grammatically, the gender of pronouns must agree with the gender of nouns. Now, consider some examples below.
(i) He is a man.
(ii) She was a beautiful woman.
(iii) It is a tree.
(iv) The lady abuses me, so I slap her.
(v) Segun worked hard and he passed his exams.
In the examples above, the gender of pronouns agrees with the gender of nouns in the sentences they are used. Consider the examples below.
(i) He agrees with man.
(ii) She agrees with woman.
(iii) It agrees with tree.
(iv) Lady agrees with her.
(v) Segun agrees with he and his.
It is wrong to say:
(i) He is a lady/woman.
(ii) She is a boy/man.
(iii) The lady abuses me, so I slap him/it.
(iv) Segun worked hard and she passed her exams.
(v) It was the girl.
This may be right only when ‘it’ is used as a non-personal pronoun in a complex sentence.
See this example:
It was the girl who went abroad.
Main clause sub. clause
- You should note that whenever the pronouns ‘everyone’, ‘everybody’, or ‘everything’ occurs in a sentence, each of them must be used with their to avoid the error of gender. Consider the following sentences:
(i) Everybody should collect their report card.
(ii) Every house must have their identity number.
In this case, error of gender can occur by saying:
(i) Everybody should collect his report card.
(ii) Every house must have its identity number.
This is because ‘every’ is a universal qualifier referring to more than one person or one thing.
- Here, the pronouns like ‘anyone’, ‘someone’, or anything can be used with the pronouns ‘his’, ‘her’, or ‘its’ if the speaker is sure of the person or the thing he/she is referring to.
(i) Someone should bring his/her English textbook tomorrow.
(ii) Anyone can disclose his/her view.
- Discuss extensively the gender of pronouns with illustrations.