Does the English language have a grammatical gender?

28

5

If we are talking about animate objects, like people and animals, defining a gender is easy in most cases.

But for inanimate objects, like a chair, a tree, the sky and so on, gender can be a built-in language feature or can be absent from a language.

Is grammatical gender applicable to English or is it not? I am asking whether a chair has no gender at all or is it of neutral gender?

Denis Kulagin

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 2 343

9it used to be but isn't now. Most people nowadays would refer to any inanimate object as "it", commonly referred to as the neutral or neuter pronoun. So it's of neutral gender IMO, rather than having no gender at all, but your mileage may vary (which is why I didn't post this as an answer). – John Clifford – 2016-03-15T10:15:34.003

4"If we are talking about animate objects, like people and animals, defining a gender is easy in most cases." I don't think that's really the case for grammatical gender. For instance, should the grammatical gender of "cat" be male or female? There are both male and female (and neutered!) cats, after all. – Joshua Taylor – 2016-03-15T14:45:44.347

1

Back in early medieval times when English was a language with declensions, grammatical gender was clearly marked. But English lost most of these declensions during the late medieval period and we have now only the vestiges of grammatical gender. http://projects.iq.harvard.edu/cb45/pages/grammatical-gender-replacement

– Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-03-15T17:52:06.027

1languages tend to become simpler over time, for example in Persian there is no "he" and "she", I don't know if thats good or not! maybe sometimes the gender be removed from English too. – Ahmad – 2016-03-16T07:02:17.787

Answers

49

In general, English does not have much of a gender system. We divide things into male people, female people, and everything else.

Men and boys use the masculine pronouns he, him, his. Women and girls use the feminine pronouns she, her, hers. Everything else uses the neuter pronouns it, it, its.

But there are a few odd parts to how we use English in practice. Animals are often called he or she if we know their gender and it matters to us. For example, our pets are very personal to us, so we usually call them by masculine or feminine pronouns, not neuter ones. Animals that aren't so "personal", we usually call by neuter pronouns even if we know the sex - for example, you might say, "There's a cow in my front yard. Why is it there?" even though we know that a cow is female.

Ships are traditionally called "she", but this is seen as increasingly old-fashioned. Sometimes this is extended to other objects if they seem to have a personality, mostly vehicles, but it's rare.

There are a few nouns in English that are specifically gendered - actress, waitress, editrix, chairwoman, and so forth - but we seem to be moving away from using these words in favor of neutral forms like waiter and editor. In the case of words like chairman/chairwoman, there's still an argument over whether a female person holding the office of chairman should be called chairwoman, chairman, chairperson, or just chair.

stangdon

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 25 636

12Countries are also occasionally considered female, but only in public or diplomatic speech, e.g. "United States and her allies." – LawrenceC – 2016-03-15T13:44:13.390

8And my favourite female noun; executrix, for a female executor. – Jamiec – 2016-03-15T15:17:19.823

2And then, there is our sun (he), and our moon (she), as in U2's song: They say the sun is sometimes eclipsed by a moon, you know you don't see him when she walks in the room. – rexkogitans – 2016-03-15T16:29:39.180

18The specifically-female words like "actress...chairwoman" have no grammatical gender in the sense that other languages' nouns have it. English does not have different articles for masculine/feminine/neuter nouns (like German der/die/das). It is only in pronouns that English truly has grammatical gender. – Monty Harder – 2016-03-15T16:50:36.223

2I agree with @MontyHarder that you're mixing up the definition of a word (actress -> female actor) with grammatical gender. I think grammatical gender is difficult for most native English speakers - 'masculinity' could be of feminine grammatical gender in a particular language and that doesn't make sense to us. – ColleenV – 2016-03-15T20:27:35.190

4I actually agree with you two that the "gender" of "actress" is not quite the same as "grammatical gender", but for purposes of explaining it to a learner of English, I think it's worth including in a general discussion of the topic, because these nouns do require specific pronouns, if not specific anything else. – stangdon – 2016-03-15T20:52:50.730

It's interesting. For example in Spanish the gender stuff is way too complicated, it's actually a matter of vocabulary to learn. – Alejandro – 2016-03-15T21:10:23.273

2I think that most learners have a better grasp of grammatical gender than native English speakers do. If you look at the question it asks "whether a chair has no gender at all or is it of neutral gender". A chair has no grammatical gender in English. Neither does actress. Even though we wouldn't normally say "he is an actress", it wouldn't be grammatically incorrect like it would be if I said "le chaise". My French is terrible - chaise is feminine, oui? – ColleenV – 2016-03-15T21:16:38.410

1A particularly jarring example of what @ColleenV is talking about is that the German word for "girl" (Mädschen) is neuter gender grammatically, despite describing a female child, whose parents would refer to as "meine Tochter", which is grammatically feminine. Ozean (ocean) is masculine, Meer (sea) is neuter, and See (lake) is feminine, despite the fact they all describe bodies of water.

You just have to memorize the gender of every noun, because trying to apply a logical rule to it is doomed to fail. – Monty Harder – 2016-03-15T21:42:13.503

I disagree with @ColleenV that "he is an actress" would be grammatically correct. There are few constructions in English where agreement of noun /adjective/pronoun is correct, but this is one! – TheHonRose – 2016-03-16T02:50:00.763

2

@TheHonRose So I couldn't say sarcastically "Oh yes, he is a fabulous ingénue, but not much of a leading man." about a male actor because it would be ungrammatical? I don't think we have the same definition of grammatically correct. There is plenty of nonsense I can write that is grammatical.

– ColleenV – 2016-03-16T04:44:12.313

@ColleenV While I agree that it is grammatically correct to say "he is an actress", I don't think that it can be used as an argument against "actress" being grammatically feminine. For example, in Russian you can say "он такая актриса" (he is such an actress), which is, again, weird, but not grammatically incorrect. Still, the word "актриса" is grammatically feminine, and the word for "such" takes a feminine form in this sentence. Saying "такой актриса" (such[Masc.] actress) would be grammatically incorrect. – Litho – 2016-03-16T10:14:12.323

1Still, I would personally say that English doesn't really have genders, just some vestiges of them in the form of he/she/it pronouns. (But I'm not a linguist.) In Russian or German, adjectives take different masc./fem./neut./plural forms depending on the noun they are attached to. Besides, German uses different articles for nouns of different genders. But in English, no part of speech declines by gender, and the articles are not gender-dependent. – Litho – 2016-03-16T10:14:45.450

@Litho But in Russian, would you use the spelling for actress that indicates it is feminine even if you said "he is such an actress"? To me expressing a concept and the rules of the language you should follow so that your concept is understood are different things. My point is that while actress refers to a woman, the word itself doesn't have a gender that would cause us to treat it differently in English grammar. – ColleenV – 2016-03-16T13:40:30.860

"We divide things into male people, female people, and everything else." - I'd like to make a point of the fact animals are people too. It is common to refer to pets as he and she if the gender is known. – Pharap – 2016-03-16T13:55:47.923

1@ColleenV I'm not sure I understand your question. The word "актриса" (actress) doesn't have any special spelling which would indicate that it's feminine and which would be different from any "normal" spelling. This word is always feminine, this is its inherent property. The words it governs take feminine form (if they can decline by gender at all). For example, in "он такая актриса" (he is such an actress), "такая" (such) takes its feminine form and not its masculine form "такой". – Litho – 2016-03-16T14:20:14.457

1@ColleenV And again, I agree that "actress" is not feminine. I just think that possibility to say "he is an actress" doesn't prove it, as you can say a similar sentence in Russian, and the Russian word "актриса" is feminine. I think that "actress" is not feminine because English doesn't have grammatical genders at all. No part of speech in English declines by gender. (For example, "such" doesn't have separate masc., fem. and neuter forms, and neither does any other word.) – Litho – 2016-03-16T14:29:08.297

I don't think lumping everyone into him/her is accurate, plus you're forgetting they/their/them – lifetimes – 2016-03-16T14:31:12.403

1@ColleenV Some clarification: in Russian, like in English, there is a word "актёр" (actor), which can mean an actor of any gender, but is more often used for male actors, and "актриса" (actress), which means a female actor. Normally one would say "он такой актёр" (he is such an actor), but if, for example, you wanted to express that some man possesses some qualities usually associated with female, but not male actors, you could say "он такая актриса". I guess a better example would be "он такая примадонна" (he is such a prima donna), as this word doesn't have a masculine counterpart. – Litho – 2016-03-16T14:39:08.347

2@Litho I think we agree actually :) I don't know a lot about Russian, but what I was trying to say was that I think a grammatically feminine word changes the syntax in Russian, where it does not in English. The pronouns don't have to agree to be grammatical. – ColleenV – 2016-03-16T14:50:15.450

@daniel - This came up before, but alternate pronouns (like xe, zhe, em, ey, and so forth) have not caught on with the bulk of English speakers yet. For example, the number of books published using Spivak pronouns has barely broken the two-digit mark. Yes, singular "they" is an interesting development, but I didn't bring it up because it's specifically not gendered.

– stangdon – 2016-03-16T16:47:50.930

1None of what is described in this answer is a grammatical gender. – KRyan – 2016-03-16T19:49:33.380

Thar she blows. – Owen – 2016-03-17T15:10:29.270

21

Grammatical gender is, generally speaking, absent in modern English. Like you mentioned, living things can have gender (though not all do), but inanimate objects do not.

A small exception: occasionally, when a person really, really loves an object, they will refer to it using gendered pronouns (he, she, him, her) rather than genderless pronouns (it), but this is really a case of personification. For example, when a guy really loves his car or his boat or his house, he may say things like "yeah, she'll go 125mph" or "I gave her a shine last weekend" or "she's really beautiful in the spring".

Ken Bellows

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 4 151

In my experience it's about convention more than obsession. I have a friend who names all his cars with some female name, even if it's just another car. Similarly, lots of people refer to cars or boats in general as "she". I met a guy in Nevada who made a point to name his motorcycles male names. "This is Bob. We hang out when I want to get away from all the girly nonsense at my house." And, to be extra pedantic, inanimate objects that represent something with a clear gender are often called he or she instead of it. Like a statue, player avatar, animated character, etc. – MichaelS – 2016-03-15T13:51:36.087

3I find myself using gendered terms when referring to things with voices. My GPS is "she" because it's at it's factory default setting of American Female voice. It's not that I really love it, it's that it sounds female. – Loren Pechtel – 2016-03-15T21:02:41.417

@MichaelS "This is Bob. We hang out when I want to get away from all the girly nonsense at my house." And that doesn't sound at all obsessive? Not even a tiny bit? – Pharap – 2016-03-16T13:58:51.147

@MichaelS I think the key point in all of these cases is that the object in question is being personified or referred to as though they were animate. They aren't being gendered in virtue of its own properties, but rather metaphorically, as though it were something else, specifically something animated. – Ken Bellows – 2016-03-16T14:57:16.747

2Gendered pronouns still do not have a grammatical gender, they just reference the natural gender of the antecedent. It changes nothing about their grammatical use. – KRyan – 2016-03-16T19:50:16.350

@KRyan: In the case of ships, cars, or any similar thing where people regularly use "he" or "she" to refer to that class of things, it's a weak form of grammatical gender (as opposed to stronger forms in languages where the article, pronoun, and noun itself all change). It's not nearly as wide-spread or standardized as other languages, but it's still the same concept. – MichaelS – 2016-03-16T23:58:05.693

1@MichaelS No, it really isn't. In those cases, the speaker is anthropomorphizing the object, giving it a natural gender. The grammar has still not changed. – KRyan – 2016-03-17T00:00:18.487

@KRyan: That's precisely what grammatical gender is, when you're blindly applying it to an entire class of object. At some point, someone decided that noun was more sex than other sex because reasons, and now noun is always considered sex because of that personification. Calling a ship "she" might be a result of someone considering it female, but is largely a matter of convention; ergo, it's a grammatical, not natural, gender in most cases. – MichaelS – 2016-03-17T00:37:54.267

5

In the World Atlas of Language Structures, English is listed as having three genders, just like German and Russian.

However it is only present in third-person singular pronouns, and male or female pronouns are almost always only applied to animate creatures according to their biological or self-identified gender (namely humans and occasionally animals, especially pets), apart from rare exceptions for fetishized or anthropomorphized personal possessions, or obsolescent usages involving countries or ships.

So it might be more useful to make a clear distinction between the vestiges present in English and the full-fledged three-gender system of German or Russian.

ghostarbeiter

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 474

Not so, as there are nouns and adjectives with gendered forms e.g. actress/actor, blond/blonde. – Era – 2016-03-15T20:06:01.477

1-1. Three genders is the correct analysis of English, even though the system is not as extensive as German or Russian. It is not absurd. – Azor Ahai -- he him – 2016-03-15T20:28:14.317

This all seems fine, except perhaps for "this seems absurd". Don't think it's really justified downvoting just for that. I won't, anyway. You could literally just delete that sentence and this would be a pretty good, concise answer. – DCShannon – 2016-03-15T23:41:25.827

1As suggested, I've removed the "this seems absurd" phrase and added a final one-sentence paragraph instead. – ghostarbeiter – 2016-03-16T02:06:46.173

1I down voted because that line made an otherwise clear and concise answer not so good. I may also have misread your tone. Anyway, I retracted my down vote. – Azor Ahai -- he him – 2016-03-16T02:07:47.137

1

@Era, is "actress" really a gendered noun in the grammatical sense? Consider German Mädchen which refers to a female human being but is a neuter noun, and can be associated with the pronouns "es" (it) or "sie" (she). Or "cow", which is a female animal but usually associated with the pronoun "it", although "she" is sometimes possible. So one could even argue that all English nouns are gramatically genderless even though some of them refer to beings with biological gender and can be substituted by gendered pronouns.

– ghostarbeiter – 2016-03-16T02:28:52.390

Actress is definitely not a gendered noun. – curiousdannii – 2016-03-17T11:15:04.660

@curiousdannii Source? My information was from a book on English for speakers of French, although I don't have it in front of me and don't remember the title off the top of my head. – Era – 2016-03-17T18:20:44.887

4

as per WiKi Modern English is not considered to have grammatical gender now days, although Old English did have it.

What @ghostarbeiter wrote in their answer is not exactly true. I do not know about German, but Russian language have 3 gender which, just like English are identified by masculine, feminine and a third-person pronouns ON(he), ONA(she) and ONO(it).

The issue with English as opposed to some other languages, is the way to identify the gender belonging of things referenced. For example, 'a pencil' or 'a pen' - you can not identify the gender of these words by simply reading them. You need the whole sentence to determine the underlying meaning applied to the words.

By contrast, in the Russian language, most of the time, the very spelling will help you identify the gender with a few exceptions. "a pencil"=>"Karandash" is a he where "a pen"=>"Ruchka" is a she. Most feminine nouns would end on sound/suffix "a", "chka" , "va" etc., where masculine nouns would have a harder endings like "ov","or", "er" "ich". Even personal names are spelled differently using prefixes (rare) or suffixes (most common) to indicate gender.

Last names are great example here. In English a common last name 'Scott' is the same for both a man and a woman. Most last names are masculine regardless. In Russian, a common last name "Ivanov" will be spelled "Ivanov" for a man, but "Ivanova" for a woman, even if it is the same family; meaning the husband will spell "Ivanov" as his last name and the wife will use "Ivanova" as hers on any and all official documents.

Many names for things will also spell out indicating gender preferences, regardless if it is an object or a being. Example "Bulochka"(a small white bread) will be a feminine but "Hleb"(simple translation is generic bread) is obviously masculine. However coffee is commonly given a masculine definition (he) even though by all other rules it should be a third-person singular(it).

vlad

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 57

2I know that Russian has three genders. My point was that it seems exaggerated to say that English also has three genders. It is not a helpful description of English. – ghostarbeiter – 2016-03-15T15:57:33.050

sorry misunderstood. but it also difficult to overlook that English does have three genders semantically. English have three pronouns that are used to identify object gender. what English luck is a specific identifiers for object names that can be used to identify gender without use of pronoun. similar to how it is done in Russian. – vlad – 2016-03-15T16:00:17.810

No problem. You explain well and could contribute at russian.stackexchange if you have time.

– ghostarbeiter – 2016-03-15T16:03:32.543

4Welcome to ELL! While this is an interesting reply to another answer, it doesn't seem to answer the question itself very directly. Can you [edit] to make it self-sufficient? – Nathan Tuggy – 2016-03-15T16:18:58.663

Nathan Tuggy >> if you mean me :-), I am sorry but I meant to post a comment under ghostarbeiter post, not an answer. stackexchange some times works in funny way for me. I can certainly edit the post but I am not a language aficionado so I usually refrain making an absolute statements about grammar. also I think my post does answer part of the OP question, if indirectly. – vlad – 2016-03-15T16:43:58.847

I went ahead and flagged this for a moderator to look at - maybe they can convert it to a comment for you. It would be better to build up your reputation so you may comment properly. If you build up some reputation on [russian.se] that will give you enough reputation here to comment. You get 100 reputation if you're trusted on another SE site. – ColleenV – 2016-03-15T16:58:46.630

thanks, but it was no my reputation that got in the way, it my browser. it kept loading new pages for login where it should be redirecting the same page. so I was clicking different links thinking I clicked the wrong one by mistake. anyhow I fix the post hopefully to be satisfactory for real answer classification now. – vlad – 2016-03-15T17:01:43.157

You need 50 reputation to comment anywhere, otherwise you can only comment under your own post. Sometimes the warnings as to why your comment wasn't posted don't show up. My mobile is particularly bad about letting me know when I've entered too many characters. The help center has a list of privileges and the reputation you need for them. – ColleenV – 2016-03-15T17:51:53.823

"For example, 'a pencil' or 'a pen' - you can not identify the gender of these words by simply reading them." - It's hard to understand what you mean here. They do not have a gender at all. – peterG – 2016-03-17T18:47:23.240

in many languages, there is a perceived gender to an object. as when we use "she" targeted to a ship or a car. I understand now that my example is not too clear using it with this specific objects simply because in English they both can be perceived as muscular (he) BUT compared to Russian, "a pencil " translates as "Karandash" which by grammatical rules is a muscular as in (he) but "a pen" translates as "ruchka" which by the same rules is a feminine (she). it was an example – vlad – 2016-03-18T12:48:13.610

many languages simply state that when we refer to a specific object we use "he" or "she" and not "it" using "it" would be wrong. in Russian the example of this rule will be word Coffee. specifically because Russian language have gender based quantity pronouns. you can say "odin"(one) in muscular conotation or "odno"(also one) in neutered non-gender connotation. dva(two) as neatral and/or muscular use and dve(also two) as feminine use. – vlad – 2016-03-18T12:58:37.763

3

No.

English varies a select few words only to refer to things that have natural genders, that is, genders recognized in the real world. These variations on these select few words does not change their grammatical meaning.

For example, each of the following is grammatically valid, and basically identical as far as the grammar is concerned:

Sue talked to herself.

“Sue” is a common female given name in many English-speaking countries, so some woman with that name is talking to herself.

Sue talked to himself.

Here, “Sue” is apparently the name of a male; A Boy Named Sue perhaps. English doesn’t particularly care, it just uses “himself” because the pronoun is referring to someone that is male. The meaning of the sentence is completely unchanged; even if Sue were actually a woman, this sentence would just be inaccurate, not grammatically wrong.

Sue talked to itself.

Here, “Sue” is something with neuter gender—that is, something that is sexless and (usually) inanimate. This would be very insulting, in most cases, if Sue were a human being, but if, say, Sue is the name of a robot, this sentence could be perfectly appropriate. But the rules of English grammar don’t actually care; the rules of English grammar allow for the construction of insulting sentences.

And, in fact, English grammar is perfectly willing to let you use “herself” or “himself” when discussing this robot named Sue. By choosing that name, its creators likely wanted people to think of it as more of a person than a machine and thus deserving a gendered pronoun, and maybe they’re big Johnny Cash fans so they find it amusing to refer to their robot named Sue as male.

KRyan

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 2 305

1

In my language - Swedish - we use two genders called neutral and real. Like German and Latin languages (and unlike English) our genders have a large effect on the forms all nouns take: neutral has different indefinite articles than real has, the definite forms (a Scandinavian peculiarity) work differently depending on gender and so on.

However, we also have words that correspond directly to e.g. the English actress/actor (skådespelerska/skådespelare), and we have separate personal pronouns for he/she/it.

Still I think in general we consider our language to have two genders, since neutral and real is about how articles and rules apply to all nouns. A word like "actress" isn't seen as having a female form, rather it is a separate word in its own right, with the meaning "female actor".

You can look up "actress" in a dictionary, and it will have it's own entry, right? A word form dictated by gender would rather not have its own entry, but be understood as a different form of a base word which you could find in the dictionary.

Also I think, if a language has gender, and a word has a particular form in that gender, the general rule would be that that word should always, without exception, take that form for that gender. If a person said it otherwise, people would assume that that person didn't know the language properly. I.e., if someone called Elizabeth Taylor an "actor", it would just sound weird. (maybe that's the case? I'm not a native English-speaker)

Edit: forgot to add my conclusion - I'd say English has a single gender

TV's Frank

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 119

In English it's English, Swedish, Latin, German... starting names of languages with a capital letter. You might know this, but all learners might not. So, in general, we try to use commonplace capitalization and punctuation around here. – Alan Carmack – 2016-03-16T22:46:22.523

These days, some younger female "actors" do call themselves actors and not "actresses". This is a movement that I hope continues to spread with English speakers. – Walter – 2016-03-17T01:11:16.703

@AlanCarmack: thanks for pointing out the capitalization - edited my post. I knew this, but got sloppy when writing. – TV's Frank – 2016-03-18T22:56:06.937

Very useful and interesting to find out the Swedish system because if the existence of worlds for male or femaile things means that the grammar is deemed gendered then Swedish must have 4 genders - neutral, real, masculine and femine. That plus the observation about singe or double dictionary entries seems pretty conclusive to me., – Duke Bouvier – 2019-10-17T11:46:13.663

1

It might not be 'officially' accepted, but I see genders in English for inanimate objects quite often. You may call it 'informal' if you are too much of linguist to accept it!

Cars are often feminine
Pets and animals are called by pronouns 'he', 'she'; Tom is 'he', but a bitch is 'she'
Countries are feminine
Our planet earth is feminine
Ships are feminine

One of the references say -

Infrequently, nouns describing things without a gender are referred to with a gendered pronoun to show familiarity. It is also correct to use the gender-neutral pronoun (it).

The examples follow:

I love my car. She (the car) is my greatest passion.
France is popular with her (France's) neighbours at the moment.
I travelled from England to New York on the Queen Elizabeth; she (the Queen Elizabeth) is a great ship.

Maulik V

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 66 188

0

Simply put, no. Most languages have grammatical genders defined through articles. English however, only uses "The". For example, German has multiple gender-connected ways of saying "The", being "Der"(male), "Die"(female and multiple entities), "Das"(genderless). All of them mean "The", but they're used in front of different words. The chair, for example, would be Der stuhl. Stuhl is defined as a "male" word in German. English has no such system.

Chris

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 1

isn't "The" a qualifier not a gender identification? I do not think "the" in English is used in the same way as "Der" or "Die" in German. it seams that some languages have a gender identification prefixes where other use a specific spelling of the word to do the same. German, Italian , Spanish are examples of first, English , Russian and many European narratives are example of second types. in English "The" is used to indicate a specific target where an "a" is used for generic reference. "A Pen" is any pen but "The Pen" is a specific pen that speaker want to indicate importance of – vlad – 2016-03-18T13:15:44.547

"The" is the definite article in English. In the languages I know where gender is a crucial thing, gender affects the article - different gendered nouns have different articles respectily. However, the gender comes from the noun - the gender of the noun decides what the article looks like, how the word bends ("bend" is translating literally from the Swedish term - I don't know if there's a proper English term for the way words change as cases or genders change.) Besides that, I'd say "The" works pretty much the same as "Der/Die/Das" in German. – TV's Frank – 2016-03-18T23:01:13.413

But yeah, I think saying that articles define the noun is too simplistic. The gender is a part of the noun, article or no. I'd say it's the other way around - the gender of the noun decides which article you use. In German, there is only one proper definite article for the word Mädchen, and that is das. You can't change das to der or die, and in that way change the meaning of the word Mädchen, all you'll accomplish is illegal syntax. – TV's Frank – 2016-03-18T23:11:20.227

So in German are there, for example, professions with masculine (or feminine) gender names that would retain that gender when talking about women (or men) who work in it? – Duke Bouvier – 2019-10-17T11:51:51.160

0

One remnant of a neutral gender in English is that monosyllabic neuter nouns don't change between single and pleural... according to an old edition of "Teach Yourself Norwegian", which presented this rule for Norwegian along with the comment that it is the same as in English. Examples: "sheep", and "fish" (although "fishes" is also used).

HillWithSmallFields

Posted 2016-03-15T10:14:10.477

Reputation: 1