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Lv 5
hi asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 2 months ago

In the English language how do you know whether a thing is feminine or masculine?

Hi friends...

I know in the English language things don't have a gender however I have noticed that many people refer to the "Church" as "she"... similarly they treat countries such as the United States or France as feminine..

How do you know whether a thing or a country is feminine or masculine? 

Thank you.


Thank you everybody for your answers .

Anonymous : I'm Catholic and I have always heard priests refer to the Catholic Church as "she" ...They never refer to the Catholic Church as "it". For instance, Eucharistic Prayer number 2 says:

 "Remember, Lord, your Church,

spread throughout the world,

and bring HER to the fullness of charity,

together with Francis our Pope

and N. our Bishop, [and his assistant Bishops]

and all the clergy."


9 Answers

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Feminine things have a vagina, and called "she". 

    Masculine things have a penis, and called "he". 

    Everything else is a neuter thing, and called "it". 

  • 2 months ago

    The English Language most definitely has pronouns that define gender (He, His, Her Hers)  Many things are referred by one of theses pronouns.

    Possibly the Catholic Church is referred to as she is because it is also referred to as the Mother Church.

  • 2 months ago

    You will be safe if you use the gender that matches the sex.  A woman is feminine.  A goose is feminine; a gander is masculine.  A house or a car is neuter. If you don't know whether an animal is male or female, you can use "it," though a lot of people use "he" as a generic pronoun.  Oddly, a lot of people call cats of unknown sex "she". There is no rule about this.  

    Even the Church and the United States and France are neuter in gender, and you are safe to call them "it."  The use of "she is used as a sign of affection.  In the case of Church, there is also the saying that the Church is the Bride of Christ.  

    Ships and boats are often called "she," even if they have masculine names.  But it is fine to call them "it."  It is a custom of some people to refer to their car or other important machine as "she."  They are following the custom of boats and ships.  It is mostly men who do this.

    Now that I think of it, I don't recall any neuter object being called "he," ever.  Only animals and humans of unidentified sex.  

    So as I say, you will be safe using the pronoun that matches the sex.  If you don't know the sex of an animal, use "he" or "it."  If the sex of a person is not clear, say "he" or [informally] "they."  "They" is a plural pronoun, but informally it is used as a singular when a person's sex is not clear.

  • 2 months ago

    Whole conceptual categories are of particular genders, almost always neuter or feminine.

  • M
    Lv 4
    2 months ago

    In general, in English we do this with inanimate objects. In English grammars in the first half of the 20th century and in the 19th, which tend to try to force Latin grammatical constructs on English, count such things as neuter. Of course, English does not have grammatical genders. But, when using a pronoun to refer to inanimate objects it would be correct to use 'it'. However, very often people refer to such objects as if they were female and use 'she'. For example, they may say a ship is going on her maiden voyage.

    Because correct grammar would have them called 'it' you cannot find any rule that is going to tell you when to use 'she'. It is something you just have to learn by using the language. I would say that if you were to call an inanimate object she you would most unlikely to be wrong. As I've been typing my reply I've been racking my brains to think of an inanimate object that would be referred to as 'he' and I cannot.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    I've never heard anyone refer to the church as he or she.  No one does that. Or did you mean refer to A church?  There's a huge difference in meaning between "a" and "the".

  • 2 months ago

    As a VERY general rule (or, idea), inanimate things tend to female in English, and animate things are male.  Thus, ships, cars, and aircraft are referred to as "she," while a group of people (who may be female) are "those guys," and God is a "He," despite not having a gender.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    For us in France, United States is masculine plural. 

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Some people will refer to something like a church or a car or maybe something else as masculine and feminine. But for the most part what they are doing is just a private play of words. Boats are usually referenced as she as is a country. But they do not have a gender assigned to them. 

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