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8/17/2016 Personal Pronouns - Gender

PersonalPronounsGender
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/personalpronounsgender.htm

TheFarlexGrammarBook>EnglishGrammar>PartsofSpeech>Pronouns>Personalpronouns>
PersonalPronounsGender

PersonalPronounsGender
Definition
ModernEnglishislargelyanungenderedlanguage.Whereasotherlanguagesmighthavemasculineandfeminine
formsfornounsdependingontheverbs,articles,oradjectivestheyareusedwith,Englishnounsbyandlarge
remainneutral.However,apersonalpronouncanbeinflectedforgendertocorrespondtothegenderoftheperson
(and,insomecases,ananimal)itrepresents.

Personalpronounsareonlyinflectedforgenderwhentheyareinthethirdpersonandsingularfirstpersonand
secondpersonpronouns(singularorplural)andthirdpersonpluralpronouns*remaingenderneutral.Herearethe
genderedpronounsinEnglish:

FeminineSingular MasculineSingular

she he
her him
hers his
herself himself

Thethirdpersonsingularcanalsobeneuter(genderneutral).Thisisusedwhenapersonalpronounrepresentsa
thingorananimal.Animalscansometimestakegenderedpersonalpronounsiftheyarepetsordomesticated
animalsotherwise,theytakethethirdpersonneuterform:

Thirdpersonneutersingular

it
its
its
itself

Remember,whentherearemultiplepeopleorthings,weusetheungenderedformsofthey*:

Thirdpersonplural

they
them
their
theirs
themselves

Examples
IreallyloveJenny.Sheismybestfriend.
Dannysaidthathewouldlendmehisjacketfortonight.

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8/17/2016 Personal Pronouns - Gender

Lookatthatcutedogwagginghistail!
BillandSamanthatoldmetheywerecomingoverlater.
Youshouldnottrytocontrollove,butratherbeguidedbyit.
Ivegotthereportforyou.Illjustsetitonyourdesk.
Thehorsegallopedby,itshoovespoundingthegroundviolently.
Theparadefloatsarespectacular!Ilovewatchingthemgodownthestreet.

Countriesandships
Countriesandvehicles,especiallyshipsorboats,willsometimesbegivenafeminineformwhenspokenofinthe
thirdperson.Forexample:
TheSSFreedomisagoodship.Shehascertainlyseenherfairshareofadventure.
ThePrimeMinisterpromisedthattheUnitedKingdomwouldbereturnedtoherformergloryduringhisterm.

Thisisamoretraditionalusageitislesscommonthesedays,andbynomeansnecessary.Somestyleguidesgo
sofarastodiscourageitsuse.

*UsageNote:Singularthey
Englishdoesnothaveawayofidentifyingasinglepersonwithapronounifhisorhergenderisnotknown,so
sometimesthethirdpersonpluralforms(they,them,etc.)areusedasagenderneutralalternativetothethird
personfeminine/masculineforms.Thisissometimescalledsingularthey.

Forexample:
Youshouldntjudgesomeoneuntilyouknowwhattheyarereallylike.
Ifanyoneneedsextrahelpwiththeirstudies,theyshouldfeelfreetoseemeafterclass.

Singulartheyisgraduallybecomingacceptedasthenorm,especiallyininstanceswithindefinitepronounsthat
soundpluralbutaregrammaticallysingular(likesomeoneoranyoneintheexamplesabove).However,itisstill
consideredincorrectbymanywritersandwritingguides,especiallyinAmericanEnglish.

Previously,itwasstandardpracticetosimplyusethemasculinethirdpersonsingularforms(he,him,his,himself),
butthisisnowseenasbeingpotentiallysexist.Likewise,usingonlythefemininethirdpersonsingularwouldbe
exclusionary,andmixinghimandherthroughoutapieceofwritingwouldbeconfusing.

Therefore,informalorprofessionalwriting,thebestformtouseisheorsheorhimorher,orelsesimplyto
rewritethesentencetoavoidsoundingclutteredorawkward.Ininformalwritingorspeech,though,usingsingular
theyisgenerallyOK.

Quiz

1.Whichofthefollowingisanappropriatethirdpersonpluralpronountousewhentalkingaboutmorethan
onegirlorwoman?

a)Hers
b)Herselves
c)They
d)We

2.Withwhatnonhumanthingsisitsometimesconsideredacceptabletouseagenderedpronoun?

a)Ashiporboat
b)Acountry
c)Apetordomesticanimal
d)Alloftheabove
e)Noneoftheabove

3.Whichofthefollowingsentencesusestheinformalsingularthey?
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/personal-pronouns-gender.htm 2/4
8/17/2016 Personal Pronouns - Gender

a)Iaskedthemiftheywouldliketojoinusforlunch.
b)Whenachildasksyouaquestion,youshouldalwaysstrivetoanswerthemtruthfully.
c)Dontpayanyattentiontothemthatgroupisalwaysbullyingfreshmen.
d)JohnandDanielsaidtheywouldlookafterthekidstonight.

4.Whenisananimalmostcommonlygivenagenderedpronoun?(Selecttheanswerthatismostcorrect.)

a)Never
b)Ifitisawildanimal
c)Ifthereisonlyone
d)Ifitisapetordomesticanimal
e)C&D

5.Inwhatinstancecanathirdpersonneutersingularpronounbeusedwithaperson?

a)Ifhisorhergenderisnotknownorspecified
b)Ifthereismorethanoneperson
c)Never
d)A&B
e)Always

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