"Gender-Specific Nouns" in English Grammar

Gender-Specific Nouns

Legends say that the famous Dracula was not a Count, but actually was a Countess! Shocking? Here we will look at gender-specific nouns like Count/Countess!

Beginner
"Gender-Specific Nouns" in English Grammar

What Are Gender Specific Nouns?

There are three different genders in English. Feminine refers to a girl, masculine refers to a boy and neuter refers to one which is not categorized in any of these two groups.

Masculine Nouns

Nouns that are used to name a male person or animal are called masculine nouns.

man, king, brother, son

rooster, bull, lion

Feminine Nouns

Nouns that are used to name a female person or animal are called feminine nouns.

woman, girl, queen, daughter

hen, cow, lioness

In the English language, feminine nouns are created in some ways:

  • By creating a whole different word;

boy/girl_ sir/madam_ king/queen

  • By adding -ess to the end of some words;

lion/lioness

Lion (male) + ess = lioness (female)

  • By omitting the last vowel of a masculine noun and then adding -ess;

waiter/waitress_ mister/mistress_ actor/actress

  • By putting some letters or words before or after a masculine noun.

hero/heroine_ man/woman

Hero (male) + ine = heroine (female).

Neuter Nouns

Nouns that are used to name a person or animal that can be either a male or a female are called neuter nouns (or common gender nouns).

parent, child, cousin, doctor

chicken, dog, snake

Tip!

If you do not know whether a noun is a masculine or feminine, you should regard it as a neuter. For example 'my doctor' can be a man or a woman. Or 'her chicken' could be either a rooster or a hen.

Remember that in English, nouns are considered neuter unless they are referring to a male or female person or animal.

Gender Specific Pronouns and Determiners

The English language has gender-specific personal pronouns and determiners in the third-person singular.

  1. The masculine pronouns: he, him, himself, his
  2. The feminine pronouns: she, hers, herself, her
  3. The neuter pronouns: it, its, itself

It is important to know that the gender of a noun affects the pronouns we use with it as well.

Masculine gender: The groom took his bride to the dance floor so he can dance with his wife.

'Groom' is a masculine noun, 'his' is a masculine possessive determiner and 'he' is a masculine pronoun.

Feminine gender: The queen loved her country, but she hated her people.

'Queen' is a feminine noun, 'her' is a feminine possessive determiner and 'she' is a feminine pronoun.

Neuter gender: My cat's sleeps in its box when it feels sleepy.

'Cat' is a neuter noun, 'its' is a neuter possessive determiner and 'it' is a neuter pronoun.

Gender Specific Nouns

Words that are always masculine or feminine are called gender specific nouns.

Duke/Duchess_ witch/wizard

Witch and wizard are both masculine.

Warning

When a word like 'doctor' can refer to a man or a woman, we cannot use the neuter pronouns or possessive determiners. In that case, we can use a plural pronoun. This is the most acceptable way of talking about a neuter noun referring to a person.

Ask your doctor if they want to try a different treatment.

Review

Nouns are divided into three groups based on their genders:

masculine feminine neuter
nouns that are used to name a male nouns that are used to name a female nouns that can be either a male or a female
man, king, bull, lion queen, daughter hen, cow, cousin, doctor chicken, dog

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