Explaining Genders of Nouns and Pronouns

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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 noun’s 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. (https://www.cliffsnotes.com/cliffsnotes/subjects/writing/what-are-the-four-genders-of-noun)

 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:

Masculine Feminine
Proprietor

Tiger

Actor

Lion

Host

Prince

Waiter

Author

Master

Proprietress

Tigress

Actress

Lioness

Hostess

Princess

Waitress

Authoress

Mistress

2. Other words that can be considered masculine and feminine. For example:

Masculine Feminine
Hero

Widower

He-goat

King

Cock

Drake

Bull

Dad

Fox

Husband

Monk

Father

Bridegroom

Bachelor

Sir

Mr

Wizard

Nephew

Landlord

Son

Grandpa

Man

Wolf

Hog

Stallion/colt

Gander

Uncle

Brother

Heroine

Widow

She-goat

Queen

Hen

Duck

Cow

Mum

Vixen

Wife

Nun

Mother

Bride

Spinster

Ma

Mrs

Witch

Niece

Landlady

Daughter

Grandma

Woman

Bitch

Boar/sow

Mare

Goose

Aunty

Sister

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.

Evaluation

  1. Distinguish between masculine gender and feminine gender.
  2. Complete the table below with appropriate genders.
Masculine Feminine
___________

___________

drake

hog

uncle

___________

nephew

fox

___________

___________

___________

___________

gander

waiter

lioness

cow

___________

___________

___________

bride

___________

___________

bitch

spinster

mare

Mrs

___________

___________

 

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.

Masculine Feminine Neuter
He

Him

His

She

Her

Hers

It/its

Anyone

Somebody

Important Keys to Note

Grammatically, gender of pronouns must agree with 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, gender of pronouns agree with 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

Complex sentence

  1. 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 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.

  1. 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.

Evaluation

  1. Discuss extensively gender of pronouns with illustrations.

Author: Deola Adelakun

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