Gender - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionaries Online
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Some languages mark words according to whether they are masculine, feminine or neuter. In English, we do not commonly mark nouns according to gender.

However, we use pronouns and possessive determiners to show gender (for example, he, she, it, his, hers):

She’s selling her house.

Some nouns which refer to living things can be marked for gender (e.g. actress, heroine). Some people may consider such words to be dated.

More commonly, words such as actor are used to refer to both male and female. Some nouns which used to end in -man are now neutral and are used to include both genders:

chair (preferred to chairman)

flight attendant (preferred to steward and stewardess)

spokesperson (preferred to spokesman)

The title Ms is preferred to Mrs (married woman) or Miss (unmarried woman) so that we cannot tell whether the woman is married or not.

We give some animals male and female words:

  1. tigertigress

  2. dogbitch

We can use the pronoun it to refer to very small children and babies when we speak generally about them, or when we do not know their gender. We also use it to refer to animals when they’re not pets or when we don’t know them personally:

The baby in the flat next door is always awake and it just never seems to stop crying.

(“Gender” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website
Word of the Day

chestnut

a large tree with leaves divided into five parts and large round nuts that can be eaten

Word of the Day

Introducing a new author and a new weekly blog post!
Introducing a new author and a new weekly blog post!
by Cambridge Dictionaries Online,
August 27, 2015
The English language is constantly changing. You know that. But did you know that at Cambridge Dictionaries Online we keep track of the changes? We continually add new words and new meanings to our online dictionary for learners of English. Some of them are new to English entirely (neologisms), and some

Read More 

parklet noun
parklet noun
August 31, 2015
a public outdoor space that may be associated with a local business but where anyone can sit Pop-up cafes in NY are what’s actually called parklets in many other places around the country.

Read More